(Shame the sound quality on the video’s so poor though.)
This morning, my Dad opened an exhibition in the museum in my home town, of ninety photos taken by my great-grandfather, found (on glass plates) when Dad retired, and recently restored by him via digital photography. Here’s an article on the BBC, including an audio interview with Dad, in which (I think) he sounds fab. Rich voice, Terrence!
I’m rather enjoying Upside Down Dogs, though it is occasionally a bit scary. All those fangs…
Yes, it’s really taken me three months to get back to tagging and naming them. You can’t really blame me: I did it once already then half the data was lost — such an experience is extremely disheartening. Stupid data.
My my, I’ve had a busy (by which I mean fun and not working at all) and sociable (by which I mean much ale and good food, including bananas, was quaffed with silly people) weekend.
It started on Thursday evening, when a whole bunch of us went out to celebrate my birthday at Wasabi, my most beloved local eatery. I mean we celebrated at Wasabi, not it was my “Wasabi birthday” or something. Anyway. Through a combination of the magic of Facebook and the strong appeal of sushi, some forty people chose to celebrate Gimboday with me. I actually turned up a few minutes late, having gone for a quiet pre-meal beer at the Uplands Tavern, and was a) gobsmacked at this crowd of people waiting for me, and b) without somewhere to sit. Oh, it was great. The food was super, although Wasabi really doesn’t seem able to handle large groups: we were split across two tables, and it’s not a gross overstatement to say that everyone on table 2 (which I was on) had received all of their food before anyone on table 1 had received any. Given that by its nature Japanese food tends to come in many small portions (just like Arnold J Rimmer’s love), that really doesn’t make any sense, and must have been hugely frustrating for the denizens of table 1. Anyway, everyone was lovely and I really must log on to Facebook and thank them all for coming more coherently than I managed to in the speech I vaguely remember making. If I tell you I got everyone’s attention for the speech by clanging together my (empty) sake flask and (empty) sake cup, you’ll get the idea. A few of us topped the night off at Mozart’s for good measure. Apparently. Photos here.
Friday was, by comparison, very quiet. I tried not to make too much noise, or be anywhere too noisy, all day. I’d like to say I enjoyed two episodes of BSG with Bash on the sofa in the evening, but in truth only one could be enjoyed, the other being an insult to all intelligent beings. Tedious predictable cliched crud, alas.
Saturday was banana day. There’s a photo of me on the cover of Mondays’ Evening Post, next to the headline “WORST CHILD PORN EVER”, so that’s nice.
Saturday night was the annual SUCS beach party, and it was the biggest yet. Despite thunder and heavy showers (and even a spot of hail) earlier in the day, it was a fine fine evening, and a beautiful morning when the sun arose “sticking her rays all over the place” as Dave delightfully put it. I may possibly have had a few ales as the night progressed, it’s really impossible to say. I certainly laughed a lot.
The highlight of the night was noticing a bunch of third years playing a drinking game based on my name. Well, to be fair I think they’d adapted a “bingo” drinking game, but anyway. The object of the game was to spell the word “GIMBO” by shouting out its letters one at a time, but if two or more people shout the same letter simultaneously, they have to take a drink. I noticed them shouting “G! I! M!M! Fuck! G! I!I! Fuck! G! I! M!” at which point I jumped in (literally, splatto on the sand) and shouted “B! O!” to cheers and a rousing cry of “And Gimbo was his name-oh!”. Probably one of the happiest moments of my life.
If anyone can remind of the context which gave rise to the following 8AM tweet, I’d be grateful:
Wondering why no-one calls their firstborn “Gimbowang”. Why do you all continue to defy me?
The weekend was rounded off beautifully by spending Sunday with my new friend Sioned, a fellow drummer, ending with a visit to Arthur’s Stone and The Greyhound for dinner. Awesome X.
At King Arthur’s Stone, seeing for miles, hearing nothing but tweets and bleats – lush. Next stop: The Greyhound!
another tweet, 7:20pm
Lots going on, but blogging sorely neglected. Partially I’ve been busy with work, partially I’ve been busy with going away.
Three Big News Items:
- I properly completed and submitted my MPhil thesis; more on this later (including a PDF for anyone masochistic enough to want to read it).
- I went to Budapest for a week; photos later. They’re on flickr now but awaiting tags and descriptions; I had done those things but lost them by not listening to the nagging voice telling me not to use crappy software that doesn’t save its state (yes I’m talking about you, kflickr). Executive summary: great city, well worth a visit.
- I have a new job! Starting in August, I’ll be a Research Assistant working for Harold Thimbleby on a three-year project on formal tools for analysis of and design for usability, particularly on small devices. Again, more on this later.
There’s a fourth Big News Item but I’m keeping it under my hat for now.
So, lots for me to follow up on, but for now I’d just like to draw your attention to the latest clutch of lovely photos from Bash, who’s sadly been laid low by a bad cold for the last little while.
… and have done for five years.
All of a sudden, stormtroopers are sexy. Evidence…
(This last from this fantastic page of Darth Vader helmets — check out the Statue of Liberty one…)
And while we’re on Star Wars imagery, I’d like to remind you to stay on target.
So: humans may be capable of cold startling beauty but so too the sea.
Both via [ffffound], spamming my RSS with notable pixels.
I’ve modified the sidebar so it displays the last 5 photos from Bash’s flickr photostream rather than mine. I haven’t uploaded any photos to flickr for forever, and Bash’s are just better anyway. Tis an honour.
Aside: again with the pagination!
Bash and I spent Christmas in Callington, at my parents’ house. It was, for both of us I think, a much needed (though in the end too short) break away from the accumulated pressures of Swansea – even though I was working on my thesis I certainly came back refreshed.
On Boxing Day, while I slaved away on chapter two’s lovingly delivered description of the Common Algebraic Specification Language, Bash went for a mooch around Callington with her camera. The results show Callington in the most interesting light I’ve seen… All crumbling walls, flaking paintwork, strange corners. Classic Bash, in fact. :-)
I won’t pick out several, because it’s worth looking at the whole set — as much as I love filling my blog with little square snippets of her work. Instead, just one, my favourite, well worth viewing at a high resolution and/or using as wallpaper. Its subtle beauty reminds me of this classic piece by my beloved Brandon Bird.
Bash cut her hair today. Photos (mainly by me) here.
(Photos of the Circles of Sound gig should be forthcoming soonish, but she’s got about 500 to wade through – ’twas a good night!)
Two weeks ago, we spent the weekend in London, to attend a civil partnership ceremony (I call it a wedding as, I’m sure, would the happy couple) and a house-warming. The wedding was on Friday morning, so (after giving up on trying to find reasonable rail tickets) we drove up Thursday night and stayed with Jason & Sid, whose party was on Saturday. The wedding was lovely: Robin & Oliver, South-African compadres of Bash’s who came to ours (front row/right in this photo), so we were very happy to return the honour. :-) They made a lovely couple, and the ceremony was very touching. The wedding took place at Old Marylebone Town Hall (“Reception Room”) – a very nice venue, with lovely officers (though marginally and amusingly haphazard a couple of times), followed by reception at The Groucho Club. I shudder to think how much it cost them, but the food and wine were both delicious and copious. No, we didn’t see anyone famous. :-)
We milled around Wimbledon on Saturday, wombling on the common and browsing expensive charity shops. In the evening, the house-warming party… Continuing the geeky tradition begun at New Year, some of us did some programming: this time on the classic Amstrad CPC-464 at the top of the stairs (Jason is Very Retro). This being a bit old and light to run a python interpreter, Jason and I knocked up a simple BASIC program to print “Welcome to Jason & Sid’s party” at a random place on the screen every 5 seconds. We even had to RTFM.
It wasn’t all geekery, of course: evidence here. My choice cuts follow.
The Venn diagram of my friends includes a number of sets. “Computer Scientists” is an obvious one. Less obvious is “German”: since coming to Swansea I’ve made a lot of friends who are either German, work in the German department, or are buddies with people who work in the German department. This is probably mainly due to house-sharing with a lovely German, Barbara, for the first year I was here. Well, of late it’s become clear that many people in or close to that set are also in “Salsa dancers”. I recently realised that my colleagues Ben & Parisa form the intersection of “Computer Scientists” and “Salsa dancers”. There was even a rumour that Markus might conjoin all three sets – alas, not yet.
Still, it became increasingly clear that some kind of cosmic conjunction was underway, and Something Had To Be Done. So we’ve done two things.
First, a couple of weeks ago, sixteen of us went for a big walk on the Gower, which proved to be something of a Meeting Of Sets. Bash & I had planned to go check out Paviland Cave with our friend John since last autumn, and finally managed to set a date. Somehow, over the fortnight leading up to the day, we managed to invite a further thirteen people between us – a lovely mish mash of computery types, visitors from other shores, and sexy salsa dancing girls – with at least one person in all three categories.
It was a great day – a really gorgeous walk with some great people, blessed with superfine weather, a taste of adventure, and a nice pub meal at the end. I made a map of the route we took via google maps (with some notes). Parisa took some great photos, including one of me climbing the rocks towards the cave (another), though at times I wished I’d bowed out gracefully at this point. I did make it to the cave in the end, one of the six of us who did, where I took these photos:
So, yeah, all in all, a great day, and a highly recommended excursion.
The second thing we’ve had to do is, of course, give this salsa dancing lark a try. I was resistant to this for quite a while, on the grounds that I had the prejudice that it’s something thirty-something yuppies do as a substitute for actually having fun. However, at a recent night at the Monkey I got dragged onto the dancefloor by a recently-returned-from-Mexico drumming compadre, and realised the point of salsa: dancing close to girls. Aha. Not actually a substitute then, but the genuine article – even if I am a thirty-something (I don’t think I’m upwardly mobile enough to count as a yuppie).
So we went to a beginner’s class at Mambo last Friday and Had Lots Of Fun. It was easy enough to get, but new and difficult enough to not do well, and very hot and sweaty, and full of a big mix of interesting looking people. A good way to spend a Friday night, for sure. Thus, watch this space for more salsa musings as I learn my steps. One thing I’ll say: I think the drumming has definitely improved my sense of rhythm, and my ability to learn/remember sequences of actions to perform with my limbs. Ain’t brains wonderful?
From Bash, a great portrait of my father and I:
… and from Gimbo, three pictures of our cats:
Bonus from Bash, just ‘cos it made me say “wow”:
Found while rambling. Yowzer.
She so foxy. 4 years ago now, mind! Oh, but still foxy. Don’t hit me, Bash. Ow.
That is comedy.
I know this is nothing new, and I know there are many, many pages like this on t’Internet, but I just wanted to bookmark one for personal future chortle reference, thus: loads of pictures of cats acting mad or looking weird. Often the captions make the picture, though the whole “i’m on yr noun, verbing yr noun” meme gets stretched too far too often, I think. Still, I love cats, I love looking at them, I love laughing at them – so this is pure uplifting fun as far as I’m concerned. :-)
Classics: full speed ahead · your guy · dead of cute · proceed · offline · (original) · fail · charles · askance · thoughts · sup · shoryuken · relevant · rumbled · lion · slippers · trap · danger (how beautiful is that?) · cookie · hats · bat country · richard griffiths · camouflage · schweaty.
RSS feed – don’t miss a kitty!
Sad day: Mum rang earlier to tell me that Callington museum caught fire this morning. Sadder still, I haven’t ever visited it – for all those years since it opened, I’ve always postponed going because “it’ll be there when I get round to it”. Well, too late Gimbo. Lesson in there for all of us, I’d say.
(Callington is my home town, btw.)
Update 2007-03-05: Dad sent me the following photo:
Apparently he spoke to one of the firemen, and (I quote) it would appear most of the artifacts were saved, with only smoke & water damage. Cause was apparently an electrical fire at the control box.
I just found two super photos on flickr…
More super for computer people, I guess, but anyway…
(Number 2 in an ongoing Thorsten series.)
Checkit out Mao, the funk soul brother. [devan78]
Sweet. Afros are back – great news for me. :-)
I’ve added a flickr feed to the sidebar, using the flickrrss plugin. Nice plugin: I can control how many images to get, their size, whose images to get (user, group, everyone, etc.), refine it by tag, and cache the thumbnails on my server so they’re not fetched from flickr for every hit. Sweet. It can only handle one such feed, unfortunately, but I guess I can live with that. :-)
Wow. JVT gets a mention on Lambda The Ultimate. Proof that he’s made it.
As previously reported, last Saturday was carnival day in Swansea and I got roped in, very willingly, to do some steel pan drumming. It was a great day, and I have discovered a love for dancing in the street. :-) There were loads of amazingly dressed people doing fun things and generally celebrating the idea of having a good time and being alive. Good stuff. I ended up in the Monkey that night and met lots more interesting people, including someone who’s going to help me execute my next Cunning Plan. Watch this space.
Meanwhile, my carnival photos are here, although they’re mainly before/after shots (ie of the preparation and aftermath), since during the actual procession I was a bit busy banging on my drum. A few favourites:
It was only a matter of time before somebody did this. What was surprising was that the culprit wasn’t, apparently, a student…
This is where we live:
This, thankfully, is not:
After graduation, Seyhan decided he’d had enough of computers, and moved into haulage:
(Photo by Bash on Fabian Way, apparently.)
All the t-shirts I will ever need are at threadless. And if they aren’t, I can submit my own designs and have them voted on. Quality.
Shame they’re in America. Why isn’t there anything like this (or CafePress) but based in the UK? (At least, there wasn’t the last time I looked – is there now?) Seriously though, I could spend a lot of dollars here. If I had any. :-)
I just haven’t had time for blogging lately, which means I’ve been busy, which nominally means I’ve got a lot to write about, I guess. So here are the big random snippets from my life of the last three weeks:
Mainly, we moved house, from number 6 in our street to number 1. We’d been at number 6 for two years, and while it was a nice, large house we had compelling reasons to leave. The main reason was the landlords, who fitted the stereotype of wanting your money but not wanting to do anything much in return. Feel free to skip the next paragraph if you’re not interested in me moaning about them…
For most of the two years we spent at number 6, we were unable to use the shower. First, the pipes made this horrible screaming noise every time we tried. That did get sorted, after a number of phone calls, but a few months later we noticed that water was trickling down the kitchen walls and the plaster in the ceiling was rotting – a leaky seal around the bath. More than a year later, we’re moving out and the problem still hasn’t been fixed. Numerous phone calls and letters eventually stirred them into action and they sent a man round to sort it out, who did a botched job – so the problem wasn’t fixed at all. This cycle happened three times (with three different sets of cowboys), and it’s still not fixed. There’s also is a leak in the roof, leading to a similar problem in the bedroom ceiling (and during hard persistent rain, a pleasant drip-drip-drip onto the bedroom carpet). They never really showed any real interest in getting that fixed. In general dealing with them has been unpleasant – they’re a pair of solicitors and when phoning their office one always gets the impression their reception has been instructed to be unpleasant and obstructive to tenants…
Despite these outstanding problems, they were quite happy to raise the rent again, so we decided it was time to get them out of our lives. They seemed quite surprised, for some reason.
The new place belongs to our erstwhile neighbours, a very pleasant couple who’ve headed out to Sri Lanka for eighteen months or so doing NGO work of some sort, I believe. The contrast between old landlords and new could not be greater. Old were motivated by greed, new are motivated by wanting to find someone nice to look after the house and the cat. The place is smaller, but that’s good because we had too much junk lying around and now we’re forced to sort it out. The rent is lower, and the other bills should be too. They’re even paying us some money back for cat food!
The weekend before last we did most of the moving, with a lot of help from our friends. I’ve put some photos here (and oh dear, it looks like I have to fix the stylesheets for those pages – something has gone horribly wrong). Will also took some photos which are in the usual Will style and thus look great but don’t give you much of an impression of what the new place is actually like. :-)
Sophie, the new cat, has welcomed us with open arms. Actually I think she’s mainly welcomed us with an open mouth, and so long as she’s being fed she’s happy. Fudge is having a harder time of it, and isn’t happy having another cat around. There’s been quite a bit of hissing and growling. Some days she’s better than others, however, and we’re still hopeful that they’ll end up being friends…
I’m enjoying having a decent garden and – oh yes – a shed. The shed came packed with goodies, including a couple of boogie boards (roll on the summer!) and a workmate, which I put to good use at the weekend, cutting down the legs on a nice glass-topped dining table we don’t have room for, which transformed it into a nice glass-topped coffee table we do have room for. It was fun.
The TV got broken in a stupid fashion during the move, so we’re currently borrowing Jason’s projector, and watching Family Guy on one of the living room walls – which is kinda cool.
Last weekend George and Lidia had a house-warming/pizza-eating/brownie cooking/eating party, which was most pleasant. Being party animals, we spent a good deal of that time watching Black Books and Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, which I’ve wanted to see for years, since reading the book. Naturally it wasn’t as good, but it wasn’t too bad and Penelope Cruz, pheweeee. Hearing her accent, I did want her to say “we will tape over him with the snooker”, however.
In other news, we watched The Apprentice last night (the Alan Sugar thing). Not my choice, but Bash wanted to check it out. I mostly tried to ignore it, instead playing with some nifty new project management software on my Palm, but I did get sucked in a few times. Yeah, it was quite enjoyable, but afterwards I think I summed it up by saying it’s still rubbishy TV – it’s just Pop Idol for people like us, ie people who, for example, have project management software on their Palms. :-) Instead of cringing, laughing, and screaming at the contestants’ terrible singing, we’re cringing, laughing, and screaming at their terrible thinking, organisation and communication.
Finally, it was our second wedding anniversary two days ago – as close to it as we’ll get this year, anyway. We had a quiet night in and I cooked. Among other successes, I learnt that asparagus tips fried in butter and cashews have a pleasingly high tastiness-to-difficulty ratio. Oh yes, and it snowed that night, just as it did at this time two years ago (though I didn’t get a snowman on the desk in my lecture this year, sadly).
Will has published a few rather good photos Bash took over the summer, at the Welsh National Botanical Gardens and elsewhere.
Well, BCTCS 2005 was fun. An entirely positive experience in fact, I would say. I met lots of interesting people, staff and students alike, heard lots of interesting and mind-bending papers, and ate some great food. I made it to breakfast every day, miraculously. Oh yes, and I gave a short talk on my current research, and wasn’t booed off the stage or anything, despite being thin on theoretical content.
Will will, of course, have some marvellous photos. Until then, here are some blurry snapshots of a few of the participants.
(Update 2005-04-28: Will has published.)
On Tuesday, Fudge will have been with us for three weeks. She seems to have spent most of the intervening time trying to stop people using their laptops, killing dangerous pieces of string, having her head scratched, pretending she wants to go outside, not going outside, coughing up the occasional hairball, ignoring the water in her bowl, drinking water from taps, chirruping, meeping, and even, when absolutely necessary, miaowing.
Very occasionally she freaks out completely on catnip and bombs around the place at 90mph, growling like the little girl in The Exorcist. This is particularly impressive given her gammy back leg. To think that for a while we weren’t sure if she was even capable of jumping up onto the sofa…
Anyway, here are some photos, just for Simon. Favourites below.
Favourites, if you can’t be bothered to browse: Beach Dwellers (which reminds me of “Them”, a picture by my old friend David Dickinson), One Day A Big Wind Will Come (gloriously hopeful), Imagine The Green Is Red (sinister), Sunday Adventure Club (let’s go, kids!), Landmine (must try this), and finally pumpkin (just plain old troubling).
fotoLibra, and an explanatory article by the missus. This is very tempting – I have some photos which are potentially of marketable quality. I just wonder what chance there really is that they’d be picked up and I could make some money from them. I suppose I can try six for free, and see what happens…
Tips for converting colour digital pictures to black & white in Photoshop/Gimp [gamma]. By tips, we mean that this goes beyond the basic “convert to greyscale” and into adjusting constrast levels, etc. for better results. Nice.