kaberett: photograph of the Moon taken from the northern hemisphere by GH Revera (moon)
Astronomy Photographer of the Year, which this year included a retrospective of the ten years the award had been running.

Of immediate interest to me: a lot of the photographs are fundamentally of The Same Thing (the Milky Way; the sun; the moon), so quite a lot of everything is in the composition and -- and this really surprised me -- the processing. Because it is absolutely accepted that post-processing is necessary for a bunch of these (not simply compositing exposures but straight-up colourising them, and of course having to process different types of exposure (infra-red; H-alpha and HII; ...). This is in stark contrast to the rules for Wildlife Photographer of the Year, where in addition to the final image the raw files off the camera have to be submitted and enhancement is right out -- and, of course, to some extent WPY has a much greater range of subjects.

I'm glad I went to see this, to be clear, but especially given that it featured highlights from the last decade I doubt I'm likely to make regular trips to Greenwich for this (in the way that I'm happy to take a minor detour to the NHM on my way to work for the sake of WPY). Nevertheless, some favourites! From the People and Space category I particularly enjoyed Me versus the Galaxy and Expedition to Infinity (this is one A & I disagreed about re the merits of humans for scale); looking at the online gallery, I am also very taken by Keeper of the Light, which was not on display. From Skyscapes: Eclipsed Moon Trail, Holding Due North, Circles and Spirals (not on display!). And also Galaxy Curtain Call, Speeding on the Aurorae Lane.
kaberett: A birds'-eye view of an Aeonium tabuliforme in a blue ceramic pot. (succulents)
[2018] [2017]

First visit this year now made, with [personal profile] swaldman As Is Traditional. Rather to my surprise this year's offerings didn't contain anything I looked at and thought I want that as my wallpaper, albeit this is in part because my favourites were largely very bright backgrounds, which is Not What I Want in that context.

My selected highlights: Argentine Quickstep, which put me immediately in mind of the Pixar short Piper; Mister Whiskers; Sinuous Moves; Fitting the Bill (I'm a sucker for shit tiny dinosaurs, okay); Trailblazer, which put me inexorably and delightedly in mind of those Classic Long-Exposure Photos of motorways; Dinner for Two, which I love mostly because BLUE DRAGON NUDIBRANCHES rather than because I actually care much for the photo; Ahead in the Game [content note: carnivores]; A Rock in a Hard Place; Night Flight; City Fisher (I am seriously considering buying a print of this and sticking it up on a wall somewhere in the house); Ice-Blue Caves; the Portfolio award (amazing insect portraits); Fox Meets Fox; Pipe Owls.

Pictures that prompted me to talk about rocks: Night Snack (orcas: controversy over classifying distinct groups as distinct species, where communication and dietary behaviours are consistent within but not between groups; this leads to rocks via an explanation of being able to tell things about whales' diets by the isotopic make-up of their baleen and wax ear plugs, which in turn leads to "and that's how we can work out stuff about palaeoclimate"); ice as a sediment (in sufficiently cold places, which gives you rippled patterns formed by the wind just like you see in sand dunes, which in turn is why the interior structure of icebergs -- see below, under bears -- are indistinguishable in terms of morphological features from desert-produced sandstones and the patterns you can commonly see in sandstone building stone). (Occupational hazards of going around pretty much any natural-history-adjacent exhibition: I will tell you about rocks.)

Things learned: ground finches in the Galapagos will drink the blood of other birds, who... put up... with this; not all woodpeckers peck wood; wasps roll up little balls of mud then make nests out of them; the welwitschia plant lives for up to 1000 years and only ever grows two leaves; rooks and other corvids fumigate themselves with human-produced smoke sources to kill off pests, as a learned behaviour.

Bears: Bear Territory, a teenage brown bear; A Bear On The Edge, which also belongs in the pictures-that-prompted-me-to-talk-about-rocks category; Crossing Paths; Night of the Bear; A Polar Bear's Struggle.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Reading. Read more... )

TV. We finished Orphan Black S3; A reappeared shortly thereafter in the living room holding out S4 to me. I gently pointed out that there were only 20 episodes left; we are therefore getting started with Leverage S4, which began with Elliot being wrapped up in snow gear and we think makes even less sense and involves even more incompetence.

Food. Read more... )

Trips. We stopped off at Belfast zoo on our way to drop off [personal profile] cesy and [personal profile] alexwlchan at the airport! We got snowed on while watching the penguins be fed. (I hadn't previously realised that Rockhoppers and Fiordland penguins also have yellow eyebrows; I thought it was just Macaronis but nooooooooope.) My other favourite New To Me Aminal: the Gidgee Skink, which is a sort of slightly flattened spiky sausage that droops itself inelegantly over surfaces and cannot move itself to movement even when crickets are literally walking all over it. They're great and I love them, almost as much as I loved the tiny tortoise that was very determinedly failing to eat a pear. Also feat.: small goats (that were efficiently stripping needles off all the local seasonally-recycled-pine-trees), Tamsworth pigs (v eager to be scritched by fingers, which are better than walls, in that they are flexible and repositionable and have pointy bits), miniature donkeys, a BARN OWL that was an OWL and therefore a LIE, some Norfolk Grey chickens.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
  • There's a panoramic viewing platform at the top of the Victoria Square shopping centre, The Dome, which we finally made it up day-before-yesterday. It's nice to be closer to the hills and it's lovely to be closer to the sky, but the thing that amused me most was just how many of the Important Sights That Dominate The Skyline had... utterly vanished behind tall newbuild. Some planning permission decisions definitely happened there.
  • There are stone gutters everywhere. They run cross the pavement in the city centre every ten metres or so. I was initially baffled and a bit cross -- they're open, without grating or grilles, so they're a nuisance to navigate with a wheelchair, especially given the camber on most of the pavements -- but then it spent at least some of pretty much every day of the first fortnight I was here raining and I, er, rapidly came to understand the point.
  • Kinda-sorta-relatedly, Belfast really is bafflingly bad at dropped kerbs. I don't get it, but... it really, really is. There's at least one route to and from the hospital I am Never Taking Again because the utter absence of dropped kerbs means that the step-free route involves being on the tarmac for a non-trivial portion of dual-carriage A-road. Similarly, our flat's right on the river, and there's a gate between the pedestrianised tow path and our block that is open 7am to 7pm. Outside those hours, I need to take a 5-10 minute detour via a route that, again, has no dropped kerbs. It is genuinely impossible for me to access my flat without spending time on roads in the dark after 7pm.
  • There is A Lot of excellent ironwork and colourful architecture and I'm enjoying it greatly.
kaberett: A very small snail crawls along the edge of a blue bucket, in three-quarters profile with one eyestalk elegantly extended. (tiny adventure snail)
... because I was most of the way through doing morning balance work while brushing my teeth when I abruptly needed to Not Be Upright, Right Now.

So I e-mailed in! And spent the morning feeling groggy and miserable on the sofa, and sometime in the early afternoon checked my e-mail to discover... that the mass spec was broken today anyway, so I didn't even lose any lab time, and saved at least a 3-hour round trip on public transport.

WHICH MEANS: I should update you all on The DPD Saga before going to bed.

Read more... )

Most of A's flying 34-hour visit back to London was thus eaten up wrangling DPD, wrangling the resulting wheelchair parts (successfully), and packing, but we did also do a Date Activity we booked lo these many months ago long before we had any idea that Belfast was going to Happen, being specifically Glow Wild at Wakehurst -- an illuminated sculpture/lantern trail in grounds owned by the National Trust but used and managed by Kew. I was telling A fondly, on our way around it, about my year 6 art project that involved making lanterns from willow and paper, so I was delighted by the sign toward the end explaining that over 200 primary school pupils had been involved.

The lanterns were divided into two approximate groups: one set of abstract or geometric solid-colour lanterns strung in trees (some exciting rounded octahedra in various colours; some more like Physalis alkekengi) and FIGURATIVE WILDLIFE. (There was also a grove of moon-and-stars with beautiful architectural willow frameworks silhouetted against their skins, but that appeared to be thematically disjoint from everything else, or perhaps more accurately at least as thematically disjunct as the ten-foot-long floating sky koi, if less disjunct than the ???Weeping Angels???.)

The exciting wildlife started with OWLS and continued largely on a theme of birds (robins! swallows! a heron! a bluetit! a green woodpecker! probably-a-chaffinch!), with BONUS HEDGEHOG AND FOX AND BADGERS. The badgers were wonderful and A Friend and I was delighted by them; A very indulgently took some photos for me, and I provide two here to give you a bit of a sense of being Personally Judged by a Passel of Glowing Badgers.

This willow-and-paper hedgehog lantern is a couple of foot tall, and was displayed at Wakehurst as part of the 2018 Glow Wild trail. Five badger lanterns made out of willow and paper, glowing in the dark. On display at Wakehurst as part of the 2018 Glow Wild trail.

And with that: A collected the keys for the Belfast Penthouse this morning, established that most of the unopened post dating back over a year was for Game of Thrones cast and crew who really don't care and have long since moved out, and I bid you goodnight.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
In my last post about the NHM there was a Good Bat Fact I failed to include: the pitcher plant that has evolved to be a bat roost. It doesn't bother eating insects any more, really, even! It lets the bat catch them for it! It is So Good.


Meanwhile, I am currently in the Peak District; A brought me up this way yesterday. Prior to setting off, however, we had Things To Do in Enfield: we'd been expecting our ex-landlord (!) to come by to pick up his Misc Shite (incl. half a box of Cuban cigars, obviously) from the garage, but by the time he'd come down with a bug on Friday we'd already made plans around existing in Enfield 'til early afternoon, so we stuck with those. First up was a local repair cafe, where I got someone who knew what they were doing to tell me how to fix a slipper sock and also a fabric bottle holder for t'wheelchair; A got talked through mending some trousers in the other half of my slot. (Skill acquistion dates are the Best Dates.)

Following this A very Patiently drove me out to Waltham Abbey so that I could collect some freecycled Phormium tenax clumps; my mother is fond of the stuff and wants to deposit some in the grounds (ha) of the Mouldering Ancestral Pile, so when I saw it going I very cheerfully said "yes please". A had... not quite appreciated that these plant clumps were going to be almost as tall as me, and sort of trailed after me going "... what the fuck, Alex" as I loaded them into the back of the car... before taking me on a tiny single-track road ("not suitable for HGVs") through a tree-tunnel in London, what even, it was an excellent adventure. (And then I heeled the plants in at the allotment, where I also fed the compost bin and went LOOK AT YOU AREN'T YOU A SPINACH, before we went home to eat lunch and feed the tomatoes and actually pack.)

Today I have mostly been attempting to build LineageOS for the new kitchen tablet (it has been An Adventure but is now almost 25% done), along with cooking some of the quince (quince and rhubarb cobbler, using allotment-rhubarb that I dragged up with us) and A Lot of roast dinner for seven. I am shortly to curl up in a sleepy pile, and Lo, It Will Be Good, and there are Rocks and Pointy Bits and Sheep and I am very contented.
kaberett: Clyde the tortoise from Elementary, crawling across a map, with a red tape cross on his back. (elementary-emergency-clyde)
A few weekends ago I visited the NHM with A. We visited the butterflies, which are always good; I particularly enjoyed that they've moved the banana plants that are always covered in caterpillars to the beginning rather than the end of the route, so you get to move through the life cycle rather more -- the readily-identifiable caterpillars are now before the pupation hut, where we saw an actually only halfway hatched butterfly for the first time, and we also got to see several sizes of Pale Owl caterpillar, all of which have delightfully the same face. We met a couple of new butterflies that we totally failed to identify (black! with red stripy lower wings!) in addition to all the excellent iridescent teal nonsense, and as ever the route is juuuuuuuuust short enough that the "hallucinating that there are somehow impossibly butterflies inside my clothes" doesn't start until I'm right at the very end.

We also took a quick spin around the Life in the Dark exhibition, not expecting great things, but were pleasantly surprised! Particularly compared to the exhibition on colours and the one on venom, this was surprisingly well curated -- though it did still suffer from "items in cases and their descriptions are inexplicably numbered in the opposite direction to that of travel". (Also of note is that there is a central section, otherwise very dark, that features flashing but apparently not strobing lighting; this allows the Ceiling Art Installation to give the effect of bats swirling around above your head and does have warning notices posted, but I didn't spot an alternative route through, though I admittedly wasn't looking terribly hard.)

Read more... )

Not last weekend but the weekend before we went on a Group Outing to Woburn, where I think I had probably not been since I were wee. It turns out that they have no wifi and basically no phone signal of any kind, which made coordinating two groups Somewhat Trickier Than We'd Expected for a Major Public Attraction. There were lots of things I enjoyed (the buckets halfway up a tree for the giraffes! the people feeding the giraffes from a jeep! the tiny elephant! the giraffe research student, with attendant ranger crossly telling everyone that yes THIS person was parked counter the flow of traffic with their windows open but that didn't mean YOU got to! the giraffe storage sheds with Very Tall Doors! the capybara! the parents very discreetly telling their children to stop watching the enthusiastically-shagging parrots because They Were Busy and Wanted Some Private Time! the agouti, which are Round and Shaped Like A Friend and have Rubbish Little Tails!), but obviously my favourite was the tortoises.

I Learned Some Facts about the Tortoises! At Woburn they've got five or so Aldabra tortoises (I met four but another couple were? hiding?), nine years old and ranging in size from about 15kg (Flo is tiny and runty and nobody's quite sure why but they're fairly certain she wouldn't have survived in the wild) to about 30kg (... everyone else). This means that they are still just about small enough to deadlift (they are an awkward shape, okay) when it's time to go to bed: they sort of wave their legs in the air with a ponderous indignance, but when deposited at the entrance to their (heated) hut (with browsing material inside) they do all go "ah, yes, maybe this is after all a good idea, you are forgiven," and plod solemnly inside to continue munching.

Apparently they're being target-trained against the day they're too heavy to lift, but they're not quiiiiiiiiiite there yet. Target training consists of giving them a treat (accompanied by a clicker) every time they boop their snoot on a proferred stick, and ignoring them if they ignore it, which Flo (the tiniest) in particular is having difficulty with: it was explained to us that after about fifteen minutes in the enclosure, keepers who are new to it always emerge looking slightly spooked and promptly seek advice from a seasoned veteran.

It is always the same advice.

"Why," they ask plaintively, "is she ineffectually FOLLOWING ME EVERYWHERE, it's kind of creepy." "Ah," say the veteran keepers, "did you give her a pat? Well then."

Read more... )
kaberett: a watercolour of a pale gold/salmon honeysuckle blossom against a background of green leaves (honeysuckle)
  1. A couple of weeks ago, The Indelicates' latest project: Paradise Lost, reimagined as a rock musical set in a racist 1950s US holiday resort. I was lucky enough to be part of one of the initial readthroughs several years ago now, in the top room of a Brighton pub, and was absolutely delighted to see how it had changed and developed. It contains the Indelicates' first (I think) proper love-song-to-rock-music, which is a subgenre I have a very deep fondness for.
  2. Yesterday I went to see Fun Home at the Young Vic, with the usual suspects (i.e. [personal profile] me_and, [personal profile] shortcipher, and [personal profile] sebastienne), having booked it when its run was first announced sometime... last year; it's been something in the far far future that I've been vaguely looking forward to for a long time. (P got me the book while I was living in the Coniston Coppermines youth hostel lo these many years ago for my third-year mapping project; I read Are You My Mother? earlier this year, from the library.) I started crying when Baby Alison stood up on stage and sang a song about Seeing Her First Butch: here, here is this kid, who can stand on stage and sing that song and it's okay and it gets better and, yeah, I... did not stop crying until sometime after the end. I loved loved loved so many of the things they did with it. I... might try to write a proper review? But I loved it, and I'm so glad I went, and it's not just because the way Bechdel draws herself looks eerily similar to my therapist so I've mentally amalgamated the two of them into Queer Elder Who Gets It And Wants Me To Be Okay.
  3. Following that we wandered along the Thames a little and I ended up being approached by an older Irish woman and asked for mobility aid recommendations on the strength of being out and about with power-assist wheels. I eventually persuaded her to try them. She is a convert, she is the latest person to insist that I should be getting commission on them, and she has my phone number so she can text me if she has questions.
  4. This morning I actually froze the probably-jostaberry sorbet made up with allotment fruit according to the Ruby Violet recipe (give or take my intense suspicion that 15g of lemon zest was a good idea). It is beautifully coloured and a bit more cronch than intended because we went off for board games in the middle, but basically AAAAAAH SKILL ACQUISITION. (It took me an embarrassingly long time, on Friday, to realise that given that it was for blackcurrant sorbet it really didn't matter if I couldn't find glucose powder without added vitamin C.)
  5. When [personal profile] jack posted about the boardgame Photosynthesis earlier this week I looked at his review, thought "ooh that maybe sounds like [personal profile] me_and's kind of thing? maybe I should get it for him?", and then dithered a lot over how thoroughly to check with him before buying it as, potentially, a Surprise Present. So I was mightily amused when we rocked up at a boardgame social organised by a friend this afternoon that... it was out on the table waiting to be played as our host's first pick. I screwed up the final two moves through misunderstanding and vagueness (and, frankly, the pineapple/raspberry margharita) so lost instead of winning, but, like, I played a new game? Without reading the rules through thoroughly and obsessively first? In semi-public? So I continue deeply impressed with myself, and A is in fact interested in getting a present of Trees Are Mean And Also Bullies. I, meanwile, was just very amused by Growing A Plant. (Also played Dixit for the first time, with people I don't know terribly well, and didn't lose abjectly and did mostly enjoy myself! So that's a thing.)
  6. Pottered off to the allotment this evening, confirmed that the gooseberry is spiky and a gooseberry, checked on the squash that didn't really need watering and watered them anyway, constructed a scaffold for the grape (which has actual proto-grapes on, what even is this), and picked A Lot of blackberries.


A cone of bamboo tied together with grass, with a grape enthusiastically attaching itself with great haste.
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
We woke up in time to get to the Centre Pompidou! We got there about ten minutes after it opened, in fact, and once again swanned past every single possible queue and did not buy tickets. I am not going to get used to this unless I spend a lot more time in France; I am still, at the moment, apologetically wandering up to security at the front of the queue and saying "um, excuse me, where is it that I should be waiting...?" and getting cut off to be waved in halfway through that. It is disconcerting; I am Disconcert.

But! Centre Pompidou! We did a whistle-stop tour of the Musée, with the Collections Contemporaines and the Collections Modernes. I was especially enamoured of the curatorial decision that Respirare l'ombre was accessed via a stark white room containing trees by the same artist: Nel legno, Albero di 7 metri, and one other -- trees right-way-up and upside-down, excavated to their branches and sometimes their twigs, in the forest of their shadows. Sol-Mur is the kind of thing I'd reblog in a heartbeat on tumblr, labelled "hashtag aesthetic". And, while I didn't particularly care for the explanatory caption accompanying Precious Liquids, I did like the installation.

There was also a room full of wire-frame Friends whose name I did not take down because I was a little distracted, and balconies full of excellent swirly metal sculpture, and various other bits and pieces I would like to make the more detailed acquaintance of at some point in the future.

We cleared out of the Musée at 2pm, and were on a bus to the Gare de l'Est a whisker after half past; half-way up the hill between Gare du Nord and Gare de l'Est a pain spike started. I curled up in a sofa in the business premier lounge (because, again, being a wheelchair user just... gets you that, for the £29 flat-rate Eurostar tickets for you and a companion) and contrived to have A fetch and carry me drinks and snacks; and eventually onto the train we got; and eventually, eventually, home. Where I have been curled up in a small pile on the sofa basically ever since, watching the birds.

I think this is the first time I have Gone On A Holiday that I substantially conceptualised and orchestrated? It feels very grown up, in a very young sort of fashion, and I think I'm going to keep enjoying that.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
A thing I learned yesterday and forgot to mention: charity shops are called solidarity shops.

This morning we were Mostly Asleep (which is, er, not surprising, at least on my part); once we had wrangled ourselves into clothes and through the boulangerie I got A to plot us a route to the Musée d'Orsay, where I dragged him round the Impressionists and had a lot of feelings about Monet; we had lunch in the cafe behind the clock, accompanied by a baffling dessert -- floating island with pink praline in custard flavoured with poppy -- before Investigating the way to the van Gogh. I am NOT SURPRISED I didn't find it last time, okay. (We also paused by all the scale models of Great Exhibition and opera house buildings, while attempting to navigate the lifts.)

Subsequently we wandered down the river a little to Notre Dame, where A was baffled by the sheer architectural scale and especially the little red doors; along the way I was particularly charmed by a set of three adjacent doors getting progressively bigger -- one small narrow single-storey, one slightly taller double door, and immediately adjacent that a bloody enormous two-storey-high set of double doors with a balcony and a two-storey window right above them. We also v much appreciated the various blocks that had just... had another entire house dumped on their roof, because why not.

And then ever-so-slowly back to the hotel, via the exterior of the Centre Pompidou and the Centre LGBT and dinner & some Pokemon & an adventure in public transport i.e. a bus that believed in two wheelchair spaces.

Somewhat clarified thoughts on Impressionism: part of what makes it work so well for me in person and fall so flat in reproduction is the fundamental three-dimensionality of the oil paint. Given that three-dimensionality, and given Monet's depiction of light, and given my short-sightedness, and given the light in the exhibition space, I end up feeling a very strong sense of realness, of miscellaneous complex sensory input: sun-warmth and movement-of-plants-in-wind and smell-of-hay-dust and all that sort of thing. In conversation with A I articulated that at least some of what's going on is that the nature of Impressionism is representing a probability envelope, if you will, of places the scene might be, in contrast with the static frame of photorealism: Monet's paintings look like how I perceive trees-in-motion without my glasses. Combined with the way the three-dimensional painting of the surface catches the light and my own motion, I perceive motion in the static-yet-not canvases, too. Which turns into "wind ruffling plants or grass" and "hay-dust haze" and "moving ripples in water", which means I want to sit and stare at all of the overlapping pictures for a very long time.

To my amusement, this works much better for me with the intimate landscapes than the buildings or the mountains; on a scale or in context where I wouldn't expect the subject to move (even if I might expect changes in light or cloud!) I don't get sucked in in the same way.

So yes. There you go. Probability-envelope articulation, along with why-reproductions-leave-me-cold.

(I was also very pleased by coincidence of the lit buildings and the brightest stars and their reflections in van Gogh's Starry Night Over The Rhône, which I hadn't previously noticed.)

Tomorrow, if we wake up in time: a flying visit to the interior of the Centre Pompidou, and then hooooooooome.
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
... actually starts at KGX, where we rocked up nice and early and had lunch at Dishoom (Indian food, uncomfortable colonialism chic [I stand corrected, see comments], very hip, generally highly recommended for the food incl. by some of our relevant friends), on the grounds that A had not been there, followed by dessert at Ruby Violet, because it was right there, followed by cheerfully jumping all the (utterly miserable) Eurostar queues and inviting ourselves into the business lounge. (Sort of. The person checking me in told us we could use it, so I went and told the doorman that, and he was all "..." and checked with his superior and we were waved in). Whereupon I established (thanks to A) that the developed-as-a-symbol-of-Anglo-French in-collaboration-with-Raymond-Blanc Eurostar-21st-birthday-special gin goes really very well with fizzy rhubarb drink.

Between all of that and the light meal served us on the Eurostar we did not in fact require dinner. Also, we were very tired. Via a slight detour around the sculptures Les Marines and a decorative bench at the Gare de Lyon, we got into the hotel (the chair just about fits into the lift and through the door to the room) and curled up on the bed and watched an episode of Elementary and ate some more of the raspberry-and-treacle tart we picked up cheap in Waitrose the night before and fell asleep and it was great.

Today we achieved breakfast at the boulangerie just over the road (A had not previously met the tiny pistachio-and-raspberry financiers and is a convert), walked from our hotel all the way over to the flea market, poked around there with mild amusement for a little bit, acquired some entirely cromulent pasta-and-pizza for lunch because Hungry, got the bus over to État Libre d'Orange, indulged me in some perfume, and then wandered very slowly back to the hotel again. (We set off around 5:30 and had declared that Dinner And An Early Night would be a good idea. We... finished our bibimbap round the corner from the hotel at 9:30, and got in fairly recently. We were slow in part because A has blistered feet & I have blistered hands, and in part because Pokemon.)

I have been absolutely delighted by the dates in all the paving; the art; the Viaduct Of Art including this preposterous furniture and particularly the Square 38 desk nonsense; the churches various, some of them in the middle of terraces and some of them by themselves, and especially the beautiful clocks designed to match the rose window; the ironwork and doors, everywhere; the duck house in the gardens. I have learned A Thing about Parisian buses, as well, which is that unlike London the route maps have a symbol indicating if a stop is inaccessible (i.e. there isn't space to safely get the ramp out), which is useful, especially as we're intending to mostly do public transport tomorrow, see above re blisters on our motive extremities.

At ÉLdO, I ended up acquiring a small bottle of Tom of Finland (because A went "oooooooh" when I waved the paper strip at him, and obviously I need to expand my collection of woody leathers), plus samples of The Afternoon of the Faun and Putain des Palaces. I also ended up trying on Je Suis Un Homme; amusingly, it starts out smelling like I've spilled orange essence on myself and ends up a slightly odd powdery leather, which I think is mostly the fault of my skin not enjoying patchouli much. This is a Bit Of A Disappointment given how much I love the bergamot in Penhaligon's Endymion, but ah well.

Also smelled: Rien Incense Intense (much smokier; A definitely prefers Rien itself and I think I probably do too); Antiheros, indeed v lavender; Attaquer le Soleil Marquis de Sade, which smelled on the strip exactly like Rien does on me and is therefore gorgeous but of limited interest; Eau de Protection, which was a powdery rose; You Or Someone Like You, a rather aggressive apple made interesting through rose and mint and general cold freshness; and, of course, Sécretions Magnifique, famed for giving [personal profile] rydra_wong nightmares. Disappointingly, on the strip it seemed to me pretty much a slightly odd metallic tang; I didn't quite dare put it actually on my skin to see what it did.

Irritatingly, looking at the full note listing I realise Putain des Palaces contains lily-of-the-valley so I'm almost certainly allergic to it, so once I've tested it I'm likely to be looking to give it away -- shout if interested!

On the upside, despite not having properly done my homework in advance, I think the only thing I'm particularly sad about not having smelled is the cologne -- and given that I've already got four of them (... or is it five?), I think I can manage not adding another to my collection...
kaberett: Trans symbol with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Because I have left planning this trip awfully late: anyone particularly want to recommend anything in Paris for me to do? Vegetarian food esp. appreciated. I am already planning to take full advantage of the free queue-jump at all the museums and galleries (I particularly want to stare at the Impressionists some more but recommendations for bullshit optionally-ceramic sculpture very much appreciated); A has been Informed that I will be going to visit État Libre d'Orange (so that I can smell some of their more horrifying perfumes without having to buy them); and depending on the weather I intend A Stroll Through Some Gardens. Any other requests?
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
When it came to be time for Papa's funeral, Adam very kindly drove me down to Cornwall in a van again, and we loaded the Tramper and the mobility scooter of the Other Wheelchair Saga (which I... need to tell you) into the back, and then he drove us back; since then, the Tramper has been sat on our patio (and, after divers alarums and excursions, plugged in to the exterior socket) and the mobility scooter has been sat in the living room (see above re: saga).

This morning, while we were eating scones, A looked out the window and remarked that the weather was fine... and prompted me to actually go for a walk with him to take it for a test drive.

It was Hard Work in the sense that I had very little lateral support from the seat and as such was doing a lot of core activation -- but we did somewhere over a five-mile round-trip, including a bunch of hills and a bunch of incredibly muddy paths that would have been completely impassable in any of my other chairs and a bunch of just... haring off into the woods because I could. I visited the SQUARE WATER we keep driving past and learned about an entire architectural tradition I'd been oblivious to! I visited the obelisk! I caught a shiny Swablu! I went on [photo] a WALK in the MUD (me with a Tramper off-road mobility scooter, on a muddy path through some woods).

I kept zooming off delightedly because I could. I kept giggling to myself. I kept bouncing gently in place. (I kept dropping my phone, and am going to install a handlebar mount.)

I have investigated ramps to make it easier to get it on and off the patio; I will be talking to my mother about buying it off her rather than selling it on, because really, at the point when this is the face I was pulling solidly for two hours?

Me grinning into the camera, with my eyes closed against the sun.

Snippets

Feb. 8th, 2018 11:41 pm
kaberett: a watercolour painting of an oak leaf floating on calm water (leaf-on-water)
Culinary adventure of the day: I had a kilo of Seville oranges in the fridge needing Something To Be Done With Them, and then today while taking a lot of painkillers in Waitrose there appeared before me, as of a vision, reduced bergamot. I didn't know that Waitrose even sold bergamot; I can but assume that they're stored above my eyeline.

I now have the first stage of bergamot marmalade simmering away.

(Painkillers: I managed to ??sublux?? ??wrench?? my good shoulder while putting on some jewelry this morning, and ended up at the point where I was going to be clearer and more decisive having taken codeine and a muscle relaxant than not. Bodies: WHO KNOWS.)

What other news is there? Let's see. On Saturday last I went around the Science Museum (well, a bit of it) with Simon; we said hello to the new (tiny) Skylark exhibition, celebrating British space science; the maths gallery, which included among other items an Important Architectural Dragon; a brief hello to the clocks gallery, where I (re)discovered watch guards; and a look around the Information Age gallery, which had broken lifts and a stunning absence of the printing press. Also token BSL translations of everything... because, as far as we could tell, Alexander Graham Bell.

And I'm sure there was something else I was going to tell you but it escapes me, so instead have a short story about a ghost temple cat and a space station by [personal profile] yhlee.
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
I am slowly coming to a conclusion about the NHM, which is that temporary photography exhibitions (WPoY; spaaaaaaaace) are usually excellent, where non-photography exhibitions are of a generally lower standard (to my mind) and much more likely to be disappointing.

I hypothesise that this is a combination of (1) photographs forcing sensible curation in terms of the amount of space given to each item, and (2) photographs speaking, as it were, for themselves, rather than needing explanatory captions.

All of which being said, I was much more pleased with the whales than the venom, but would probably have been grumpy about both if I'd been paying real money (rather than "I'm a member" fake money).

From Venom I learned that slow lorises have poison glands in their elbows, more (though less than I'd have liked) about the creation of antivenoms, and a very little more about the composition and mechanisms of action of venoms (multiple chemicals targetting different systems in a variety of combinations and stages) plus drug development arising from investigation of venoms (there was a really disproportionate focus on dicks in this section). There was also a remarkably large number of #Aesthetic display cases filled only with Atmospheric Labware, a lot of sad animals in jars, and spiders ). The most disappointing case, to my mind, was one that displayed all the venemous species in the UK... with an offhand remark that most of them aren't venemous to humans, and absolutely 0 detail on what their venom does target and (what we know about) why we're immune to it. Curation generally disappointing: the "how venom hurts us" section set up to be spoopy and disorienting, which in practice meant it was very dark and everyone was trying to crowd around tiny little displays in tight spaces (at above-my-eye-height, in many instances), with loads of empty space that just didn't have anything to do in it, with a very sudden transition to bright white straightforward-path "but we can also use it in MEDICAL SCIENCE".

Whales I was much keener on, and actually a little excited to go around a second time (with B, having previously been with A in December for a friend's birthday trip). Things learned include: proto-whales had USELESS LITTLE VESTIGIAL FEET and they're the BEST THING; the mechanical role of blubber in efficient swimming; how filter feeding actually works, which had somehow never previously been explained to me in a way that I correctly understood; how we know that toothy and toothless whales diverged from a common ancestor (foetal tooth buds!); what happens to a whale's lungs when it dives, and relatedly some more about how echolocation works anatomically (recycled air! phonic lips! whales don't have any external ears at all!); and some fascinating orca sociology I really wish the exhibition had gone into more detail on, to do with hunting and dietary habits being passed down within family groups, and being identifiable from patterns of tooth wear and indeed the isotopic makeup of teeth. Curation much better: exhibits sensibly spaced out, everything at an accessible-to-a-wide-variety-of-heights level, text much more readable and mostly informative rather than pointlessly dramatic, much more ability to move sensibly around the exhibit and to make decisions about what to skip (or not).


I wish I could work out what the pattern was on which non-photography temporary exhibitions I'll enjoy and which I won't; so far I've appreciated Corals and Whales (and, to be fair, butterflies), and been pretty disappointed by Venom and Colours. I'll report back if I manage to work it out.
kaberett: Toph making a rock angel (toph-rockangel)
This afternoon: matinee performance of The Nutcracker, English National Ballet, with A. It was the last (or very nearly the last?) performance and it seemed fairly obvious the performers were tired: while the dancers were naturally managing an impressive amount of "this incredible feat of physical exertion? pfff it's effortless", they were also less precise than I'd have expected on timings (so the overall choreography was a bit less coherent than it might have been), and I spotted at least one pretty bad ankle wobble. Costumes beautiful, sets beautiful, brass slightly out of tune on occasion as is the way of brass. The story was if anything slightly more incoherent than usual -- Drosselmeyer was compering the entire Kingdom of Sweets sequence??? Clara and the Nutcracker were not terribly distinct from the Sugar Plum Fairy and her consort??? the Nutcracker kept inexplicably having a mask removed and replaced??? -- but there was a BALLOON and I am v pleased to have seen such a large and professional performance.
kaberett: Reflections of a bare tree in river ice in Stockholm somehow end up clad in light. (tree-of-light)
I have now been twice, with [personal profile] me_and and [personal profile] swaldman on the 31st, and on the 5th of January with an uncle (to whom I was handing over, appropriately, some of Papa's photography misc.).

Things learned this year: whales exfoliate and clownfish have horrifying parasites.

Pictures I particularly enjoyed: astonishingly characterful seagulls, beautiful choreography of seals, a resplendent quetzal coordinating beautifully with epiphytes, a turtle (with interesting photographic technique, more turtles (blue & glowy), an astonishing shot of a frog failing to eat a weevil, beautifully set off by the lantern it's on, a lobster larvae surfing on a dead jellyfish, a seahorse surfing on a q-tip (gorgeous colours), a handful of iguanas, and some excellent teasels that get to be my next desktop wallpaper.

As ever, it is great fun going around this exibition with walkers: there are startlingly different perspectives from different heights, and most walking adults don't think to crouch down to see what I do. It's great fun encouraging them to.

Also as ever, Simon & I (and indeed my uncle) remain somewhat perplexed by the winners of most categories: broadly, finalists seem to be picked based on a combination of "technical excellence", "interesting story", and "sheer bloody-mindedness", but somehow the winners are very rarely the ones I (we!) would pick.

It's also always a little baffling how many of the non-award-winning photographs (from the People's Choice Award, go vote) end up being sold in the shop & used on publicity; particular shout-outs from me this year to the sloth, the dragonfly, and especially the lilac-breasted roller riding a zebra.
kaberett: A green origami stegosaurus (origami stegosaurus)
So because of Reasons I ended up getting given a copy of the programme for the Cambridge Summer Music Festival. Also, the plays for this year's Shakespeare Festival have been announced (this is the Watch Open-Air Shakespeare While Eating A Picnic). So here is the list of stuff I am interested in - please holler if you would like to join me!

Shakespeare
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING THEY ARE DOING MUCH ADO. 8th July--27th July - this is my favourite Shakespeare, and I am 100% up for going to see. Several times. St John's.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, 29th July--17th August. Homerton. Last time I saw them do this it was in Girton and beautifully staged, and I'd really love to see what they're doing with a different set of grounds.

CSMF

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