Amsterdam – Canal Barge & Rijks

Aug. 22nd, 2017 10:36 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
On the previously mentioned trip to Amsterdam, the bloke and I stayed on a canal barge in the Westerdok.

This was the much bigger cousin of the holiday barges that pootle up and down our Worcestershire canal. The main bulk of the hull served as the home of the bloke who ran the B&B. We were in the wheelhouse, overlooking the canal. The docks seem to serve as pretty much permanent moorings for the barges in this area. Each one had a small garden, and there was even a floating children’s play area.

It was surprisingly quiet given that the location is a mere 15 minute walk from Centraal Station. We could hear a distant roar of traffic, but mostly we heard the hangry cheeping of two adolescent coots and the occasional quack of a duck. We also found a great crested grebe nesting a few boats down. It was definitely brooding, as we never saw the nest unoccupied.

Urban great crested grebe nest
The nest itself was a rather wonderful construction, being a mix of urban rubbish and plant detritus, with a few hollyhocks artfully arranged around the edges. The grebe had two female mallard bodyguards, who immediately came to circle the nest at a careful distance, giving me the side-eye when I hopped down on to the dock from the pavement to take photos.

The barge proprietor tiptoed in every morning to leave us breakfast on the table next to the wheelhouse. It included a bottle of freshly squeezed orange juice, muesli, yoghurt, and hardboiled eggs nested in knitted cosies. Much as I wanted to sleep in, the prospect of getting that into my belly when I heard his footsteps got me out of bed pretty early both mornings. We received so much food at breakfast that we were able to make sandwiches from the bread and cheese to squirrel away for later. We ate these in the Vondelpark on the first day, and for supper on the second after the lunch at Rijks.

Apart from the sheer pleasure of walking around Amsterdam, we also indulged in a trip to a Michelin-starred restaurant for a very belated birthday treat for me. We spent three and a half hours eating lunch at Rijks, which is next to the Rijksmuseum. The bloke had mentioned that it was my birthday when he made the booking. As a result, in addition to our pudding, I got a white chocolate candle with sorbet and a little message inside. We sampled both white and red wines, all by Dutch winemakers “from everywhere in the world” (e.g. New Zealand and South Africa).

Photos from Rijks behind the cut.

+++ )

Reading: Caprice and Rondo

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:44 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
I spent my weekend staving off depression by immersing myself Caprice and Rondo, the seventh of Dorothy Dunnett's eight House of Niccolò novels, and only took until today to finish it because Scales of Gold scared me off sitting up late to finish Dorothy Dunnett novels and I forced myself to put it down at 81% complete on Sunday and 90% yesterday. I'm not completely sure that Dunnett-immersion is really a good long-term antidepressant, but in the short term it seems to have worked and I am feeling a bit better now anyway.

This volume takes Nicholas from Poland to Persia, via the Crimea, and then finally back to Bruges via a sojourn in Russia which echoes The Ringed Castle. Cut off from his friends and colleagues by the revelations that ended To Lie With Lions, he originally seems bent on self-destruction, but the events of this book build on his experiences in the desert and Iceland until, by the end, it truly feels as though he has grown up and is ready to begin building a life with roots, rather than seeing everything as a game to be played and won. The plot is typically twisty and compelling, the characters flawed and human and so very real, and I think I'm finally starting to understand why some people prefer the Niccolò books to the Lymond Chronicles. (I may even end up that way myself, although I might also just start re-reading Lymond and fall for him all over again.)

Caprice and Rondo resolves enough of the series' many subplots that I had a definite feel of approaching the end of the series; although it leaves some major plot threads unresolved, it felt as if enough had been tied up that the series could almost have ended there, and I do wonder if that was deliberate - Dunnett was 74 when it was published, and although she did manage to complete Gemini and publish it the year before she died, if this had been the last book it wouldn't have been an entirely unsatisfactory ending in the way ending with any of the previous three books would have.

Post-eclipse complaining

Aug. 22nd, 2017 01:54 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
So, prior to the eclipse there were FAQs and news reports about people who didn't want to go out on the day of the eclipse - even before it started! - for fear that they'd go blind, or didn't want to walk their dog because the dog might go blind (not knowing not to look at the sky on eclipse day, of course) or not letting the kids out at all during recess because, you got it, they might freeze in place, stare at the sun, and go blind.

And then Trump looked at the sun without glasses. And everybody is throwing fits about what an idiot he is. I commented on one article that no, it's not likely you'll go blind if you just glance at the sun for a second*, and one person replied "but this isn't the sun, it's the eclipse!" like that's a winning argument. I mentioned to another, who claimed you couldn't see anything without the glasses until totality anyway that I'd been staring at the cloud cover impatiently before the peak, and when the clouds parted I'd gotten an unprotected glimpse of the sun and yes, I could see the bite of it - and that person went "Well, you do permanent damage at 20 seconds, so you might've been lucky". How long do they imagine it takes to see the sun when the clouds break and then look down again?

I think I've figured this out.

The rule is "You should not stare at the sun, even during an eclipse". This is a sensible rule that nobody has ever needed to tell anybody over the age of, say, six weeks. We don't stare at the sun. Even infants know better - if the sun shines in your eyes, you squint, put your hand up, and turn away. Aniamls are even smarter! No matter what happens, they don't need to be told.

But humans think we're cleverer than animals, and during an eclipse we sometimes break that rule and look at the sun because it's cool. And because the light seems dimmer, we can look longer. But it's not really dimmer - it's just as bright, it's just that some of it is blocked. So for the past year, we've had it drummed into our heads that you shouldn't look at the eclipse without glasses. Consequently, many people have internalized the rule as "You shouldn't stare at the sun, especially during an eclipse". But the sun isn't any more dangerous then. It's only our behavior that changes!

If you look for up to five seconds, you're probably fine, just like when you turn a corner and find yourself driving toward the sun. (Or look up at a flock of birds just as the clouds part and find the sun glaring in your eyes, or wake up with the sun in your eyes.) According to the only study on the subject, you're not likely to have visible damage unless you look for 15 seconds or longer... and even then, most patients improved with time.

So don't stare at the sun, but if you did catch a glimpse, whether on purpose or not, it's probably no more harmful than when you catch a glimpse of the sun on regular days.

(As for Trump, this was a dumb move, but not because of the potential eye damage. It was a dumb move because everybody and their dog, literally, knows better but he still did it on national TV. Doofus. And if he's getting any flak from it he probably blames the aide for calling attention to his behavior rather than his own foolish decision to do something everybody knows, from the very day they're born, not to do.)

* Turns out it was more like 30 seconds in his case, which is really way too long. Not that I give a fuck what that person does to his eyes.
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
http://slatestarcodex.com/2017/08/09/the-lizard-people-of-alpha-draconis-1-decided-to-build-an-ansible/

Scott wrote another short story. As is usually the case, it's intriguing but there's also much to critique :) The aliens in the story develop great technology, and build an ansible out of negative average preference utilitarianism.

I have a lot of different thoughts inspired by this story. I don't think it's the sort of story where knowing what happens is a problem for reading it, but I will cut a detailed discussion just in case.

Spoilers )
cesy: "Cesy" - An old-fashioned quill and ink (Default)
[personal profile] cesy posting in [community profile] spoonlessactivists
Link: Depends on party
Location: Anywhere in the world if you're a UK citizen
Deadline: Varies, but there will be some this autumn
Time estimate: 15 minutes
Requirements: money / mental / personal information / decision-making
Anything else: It may be a while until the next general election, but local elections can make a difference to people's lives. Joining an imperfect party and campaigning for change from within is usually easier and more effective than starting a new party from scratch or trying to get an independent elected. Being a member for a few months before the election gives you opportunities to help influence things when it comes, whether that's by voting within the party for a particular person to be the party candidate for your area, putting forward or voting on topics for policy discussions and campaigns, or by getting information about ways to volunteer and increase voter turnout.

Interesting Links for 22-08-2017

Aug. 22nd, 2017 12:00 pm

Feet-folks

Aug. 22nd, 2017 10:24 am
strange_complex: (Dracula Risen hearse smile)
[personal profile] strange_complex
I am communing with the ur-text at the moment (i.e. reading Dracula), and was tickled to notice last night that it contains a reference to Leeds - though not a very complimentary one! It's no great surprise, of course, given that a substantial chunk of the novel is set in Whitby, and indeed it is in the mouth of old Whitby fisherman Mr Swales that the reference comes. He is complaining about people being altogether too credulous about legends of bells ringing out at sea and White Ladies and such like:
Them feet-folks from York and Leeds that be always eatin' cured herrin's and drinkin' tea an' lookin' out to buy cheap jet would creed aught. I wonder masel' who'd be bothered tellin' lies to them, even the newspapers, which is full of fool-talk.
I'm not terribly sure what 'feet' means in this context, and Google isn't helping, even when I put the phrase in quotation marks to rule out ordinary references to feet. Maybe it just means foot-passengers who have come to Whitby on the train? Or might it be Bram's attempt at spelling a local pronunciation of 'fit', and perhaps means something more like 'fine folk' (in a sort of 'fit to be Queen' kind of sense)? If any genuine Yorkshire-born chums have a clue, let me know. If it's a proper dialect word, it will have been something Bram got out of a book on Whitby dialect which we know he used in his research.

[ETA: apparently I wasn't Googling very effectively before. I've found the answer now and my first guess was right: feet-folks are foot-passengers.]

Anyway, I will be going to Whitby myself in just over a fortnight, along with the lovely [personal profile] lady_lugosi1313, to join a long weekend event marking the 40th anniversary of the Dracula Society's first official trip to that location. I don't have any particular plans to eat cured herring or drink tea (which I hate), but I won't turn down any nice cheap jet, and I will make a particular point of believing any and all legends of the macabre and supernatural which anyone tells me for the entire weekend - just to annoy Mr Swales.

Just One Thing (22 August 2017)

Aug. 22nd, 2017 06:36 am
hollymath: (Default)
[personal profile] hollymath posting in [community profile] awesomeers
It's challenge time!

Comment with Just One Thing you've accomplished in the last 24 hours or so. It doesn't have to be a hard thing, or even a thing that you think is particularly awesome. Just a thing that you did.

Feel free to share more than one thing if you're feeling particularly accomplished!

Extra credit: find someone in the comments and give them props for what they achieved!

Nothing is too big, too small, too strange or too cryptic. And in case you'd rather do this in private, anonymous comments are screened. I will only unscreen if you ask me to.

Go!

Well, it could've gone better

Aug. 21st, 2017 07:56 pm
conuly: (Default)
[personal profile] conuly
I wanted to be there right when the museum opened - missed that by about an hour.

DID get the glasses. Boy, those were something. They seemed completely opaque until you looked up at the tiny, orange, dim sun. (The kids sold theirs to people even later than we were!)

Missed the lecture due to some miscommunication. Didn't see other exhibits, same reason.

But we did enjoy looking at the sun through the (shared) glasses, and the kids really loved making pinhole projectors on index cards. I'd expected they would - they wrote their names and all!

One thing that was not explained to me in the documentation, but in retrospect should've been obvious: The dimmer the light got, the closer the index cards had to be to make a clear image. At the beginning, having one on the ground and one in your hand was good enough. By the midpoint, when it was 70% covered and dark (and when we were done) they had to be right next to each other.

Several people, hearing me launch into another spiel on how "our eyes work the same way" and "the image is backwards and upside down - look, compare it! - but when it happens in our eyes our brains automatically flip it" asked if I was a teacher or a scientist! LOL. Only the former in a very *literal* sense, but this is something I've known since I was six or so. I had a book on the structure of the eye. (I didn't say that. I just said I homeschool and I made the kids listen to me talk to them about it.)

And then on the way back we talked about the Statue of Liberty and all. I heard a tour guide the other day say that the original model for the face was the sculptor's girlfriend, not his mother as in the finished version, but I don't know if that's correct. Still, "she looked too sexy" is obviously a story that's hard to give up!

My History Caffeine

Aug. 21st, 2017 05:13 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
History

As a teenager I never drank tea or coffee. I must have tried them at some point, but never felt the desire.

At university I started drinking both. I can't remember exactly, I remember having them as a ritual something to do when hanging out with friends. IIRC I drank instant coffee, and real coffee tasted too bitter.

And I think I reached a point where I needed coffee and got dopey and too tired to get up without it, either at university, or after I started working. Unrelated to the caffeine (I assume?) I also had student-y programmer-y sleep patterns, always wanting to sleep a bit later. I don't know how much that was inbuilt physiology and how much it was putting things off, including going to bed and doing things in the morning.

At some point, I started drinking real coffee for preference, and instant coffee tasted bad.

When I started dating Liv, I drank a lot more tea, because we'd usually make a pot together. And I started to feel like coffee was too abrupt, and tea gave a slightly slower caffeine release, and gradually switched to drinking tea almost entirely: I'd happily drink coffee if it was served somewhere, but didn't usually drink it at home or at work.

When I started dating ghoti, I started drinking coffee again, because she drank coffee more often and I liked companionably drinking the same thing. I started with mostly instant coffee, and to date, still mostly drink instant coffee, although I also like real coffee when I have it.

Now I tend to switch, drinking instant coffee at home (because it's quicker), tea at work (because I want a break from the screen to faff around in the kitchen for 10 min), and whichever I feel like if I drink something out.

I never really learned to like espresso based coffee, espressos taste much too strong, and all the mixed drinks taste weird. I used to like mochas occasionally. I usually like plain black tea with milk, or plain coffee, with milk.

Except when I'm abroad, I generally drink whatever's common locally if I'm ok with it at all.

I don't track how much I drink. It's probably quite a lot, because I drink it whenever I feel like, not at fixed times. But I used to feel like it was doing something weird, when I'd be completely wrecked when I *didn't* have caffeine, whereas now, I definitely need some, but if I get a drink within an hour or so of getting up, I don't feel completely zombified until then.

So I used to toy with the idea it'd be healthier to give up (ie. awakeness juice was just borrowing future awakeness and immediate gains were offset in future losses). But now it feels like, the status quo is doing ok.

ADHD

A couple of people have commented that they have ADHD or suspect they possibly have subclinical ADHD or something related, specifically that mild stimulants make them feel calmer, even right before sleeping.

That's very me. I've never tried to avoid late-night caffeine have haven't noticed it having any affect on my sleep. Which inclines me to think the status quo is possibly fine.

Away

The one big inconvenience in needing caffeine used to be when I'm away, especially at a con in a conference centre, but also, just anywhere on holiday where I'm out all day and don't have decent tea or coffee facilities where I'm staying.

I found it a big faff needing a certain amount of coffee or tea, but that not always syncing up with when I want to sit down and "have a coffee". And a crapshoot whether there'd be somewhere providing bog-standard coffee or tea cheap, or if the only source was a fancy coffee place. Especially if I'm in a rush, or it's all in a foreign language, or whatever.

At some point, I experimented with bringing caffeine pills. I'd studiously avoided them before since having caffeine without the ritual of drinking it seemed like it would only exacerbate the feedback loop of taking more and more to make up for potential caffeine-crashes. I still avoid them when I'm *not* away somewhere.

But I actually found it really helpful, it basically solved the problem for me. I usually need a couple of actual hot drinks throughout the day, usually one or two in the morning with breakfast and one sometime during the day. But otherwise, having a couple of pills in the interim, either physiologically or placebo-y, made me feel fine. I also remember to drink liquid. It made the whole thing a lot simpler.

I can't help other people though, especially tea drinkers in places where there's not much tea.

Questions

Which bits of those experiences resonate with you and which don't?

Most of my friends seem to default to tea *or* coffee, even though I remember by parents drinking one or the other depending on the circumstances. Do other people drink both at different times?

What is the relative caffeine in a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, and caffeine pill?

Does that status quo sound sensible or is there something else you'd recommend?

Insane conditions at Toppidrettsveka

Aug. 21st, 2017 05:11 pm
zimena: Cross-country skier Johannes Høsflot Klæbo looking even more gorgeous than usual. (Default)
[personal profile] zimena
Okay, so this is mainly for [personal profile] gobtastic, because I've been bombarding her with info about this stuff elsewhere. However, if you care about my skiing fangirling, you might be interested as well. So... ready.... GO!

Remember how I said that the conditions during the last race of Toppidrettsveka were absolutely horrible and crazy? I found a couple of pics that show it pretty well. One was swiped from Emil Iversen on IG, the other one from a Finnish photographer who also posted a nice Johannes pic afterwards. You can't really see people clearly in these, but you can see the crazy conditions:





Remember the rollerski expert who was 2nd behind Johannes in Friday's sprint? He withdrew from this race, because he found the conditions unsafe and he didn't want to risk any accident or injury.

That says a lot, to be honest. He's a specialist on roller skis. In fact, I hardly ever see him compete in the regular season, because his main focus is this. And he withdraws because this was madness.

One bonus photo of the lovely guy who managed to hold on to his second place, despite both having a tough day on the track and having to deal with tough conditions:



Even though it's a competition photo, I love how he looks here. So fierce and with that intense look in his eyes, plus as you said, you can really see how strong his arms are. I know you can't see his hands properly here, but strong arms also means strong hands, which I love. In fact, I know I have seen a close-up pic of his hand somewhere, but I can't seem to find it now. Not to take attention away from this loveliness though...

I'm just so happy that I got to watch him compete at this event - and of course that I saw him both win a sprint and fight so fiercely for this second spot overall. He's impressive. Really!

Music meme: day 21 of 30

Aug. 21st, 2017 12:50 pm
liv: A woman with a long plait drinks a cup of tea (teapot)
[personal profile] liv
A favourite song with a person's name in the title: Several options for this one, but I'm going with Hey there Delilah by Plain White T's. I generally really like songs that tell a bit of a story, and I can imagine the characters in this one so vividly. I like the balance of emotions; it's a sad song about missing a lover, but it's also optimistic and the music is at least somewhat catchy. And I like that they're apart because they're both pursuing their careers, it's not some passive muse waiting for her artist boyfriend to come home. It's not my usual musical style; indeed I discovered it simply by listening to chart radio like some young person who's in touch with the recent music scene.

Besides, I've been in long-distance relationships pretty much my entire adult life, so I can really relate. But no longer; I haven't posted about this in public yet, but in a couple of weeks I'm properly moving to Cambridge. So I'll be living full time in the same house as my husband and the same town as my Other Significant Others. And I won't be spending every Friday and Sunday evening commuting. I'm really really looking forward to this next phase in my life, but also at the moment up to my ears in arranging the move, and quite emotional about leaving the situation I've been settled in for 8 years.

This weekend I lead my last Shabbat morning service with my lovely community. They are understandably nervous about the future without me, and I will miss them absolutely terribly. I talked a bit about Re'eh, making sure that there's no comparison between Moses saying farewell to the Israelites and me saying farewell now. I discussed keeping sanctity while you're living in an imperfect situation, far away from Jewish centres. What compromises can you make (eating meat without making a Temple sacrifice) and what lines can't be crossed (worshipping in Pagan sites)? Then it will go well for you and your children after you, for all of time, because you will do what is good and right in the eyes of the Eternal your God. And we ate cakes made by my sister and the community gave me some really nice silver Shabbat candlesticks with engraved stands.

[personal profile] jack came up to help me sort the flat out. In lots of ways the decision making is the harder part of packing than the physical labour, so having my husband with me was an amazing help. I am really looking forward to living with him and properly sharing the work of running a household, because we're such a great team. Not just one day in the distant future when our dreams come true, but next month:
We'll have it good
We'll have the life we knew we would
My word is good

video embed )

Interesting Links for 21-08-2017

Aug. 21st, 2017 12:00 pm
andrewducker: (Default)
[personal profile] andrewducker

travels

Aug. 20th, 2017 05:28 pm
alatefeline: Painting of a cat asleep on a book. (Default)
[personal profile] alatefeline
Went on an overnight trip thing Fri-Sat.

We camped! In a tent! That I pitched! At the beach!!!

Back. Today am very tired, not feel great today; restaurants are dangerous.

Tomorrow is Eclipse Day. Need to go very early because everyone will be go place do thing!

Should repack car. Keep going flat instead. Flat cat. Mrrrr... zzzz...

Arrival ranting

Aug. 20th, 2017 11:44 pm
jack: (Default)
[personal profile] jack
So, Arrival (the film, adapted from the Ted Chiang story). I didn't have a lot to say about it. Aliens, were great. Linguist, was great. Kind-of-sympathetic kind-of-antagonist military were a bit gratuitous, but generally good. But I did have thoughts about a few specific things.

And, yes, I'm annoyed it wasn't EVEN MORE like a Ted Chiang story than it was, but please do adapt as many Ted Chiang stories as you can. The tower-of-babel one would be amazing...

Spoilers )

Gotta Mouse!

Aug. 20th, 2017 09:44 pm
hunningham: Evil queen with extremely evil grin (Great big grin)
[personal profile] hunningham
My cat is a mouser. He catches mice, brings them into the flat, and releases them.

I can always tell when he's got a mouse - I can hear him all the way up the stairs going "I gotta Mouse! I gotta Mouse!".

It's loud. Muffled (because his mouth is full) but loud. He's always vocal, but the Gotta Mouse! voice is very different to his normal "Hi honey, I'm home!"

Today I have made an app and released it for beta review. And now I'm going around going "I gotta App!" Come and behold the wonder of My App for it is like no other mouse app. Marvel at it.

Miaow. Caterwaul.

checking in

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:48 pm
syntaxofthings: A boiling planet of fire, the text "Starfire" ([Planetary] Starfire)
[personal profile] syntaxofthings
Thursday: 12-hour day at school.
Friday: in bed most of the day recovering.
Saturday: 3 hours of intense class (lots of discussion and a professor acting intimidating), then baseball game!!1!, then a midnight movie.
Today: may need some gentle self-care, despite desperately needing to do homework, study, etc. because tomorrow I have a meeting in the morning, physical therapy in the afternoon, and possibly receiving whatever the eclipse needs to awaken in me. It already feels harsh, because I'm so tired from doing so many things and my body hurting so much. And yet my "so many things" is most people's normal. I'm so tired of not being able to do nearly as much as most people my age.

Oh yes, and I need to do some planning today, and my head feels like mush. Need to make sure I have enough to eat this week. Keeping myself alive and able to do things takes soooo much energy. I get so down about it.

Meh. I'm never sure what to write or how I want to present myself. Survival, and my current priorities school & some social engagement, just takes too much out of me to be much more than that.

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