almost holidays

I may actually be getting vaguely excited about my impending trip. About bloody time as we fly out in 3 days. Though I usually say I don’t start to relax until I’m on the plane. We’re traveling for 6 weeks and have booked 10 nights of accommodation so far, or roughly a third. Sometimes I’m comfy with that, sometimes I’m not. I am comfortable with the flexibility.

We kept looking stuff up on wotif and being disappointed with the results. There’s 3 of us traveling: moi, my partner and Ms16. Wotif doesn’t show many places and keeps returning places with 1 bed + crib. A crib is no good. Airbnb however is showing lots of apartments, many of which are suitable ie 2 rooms with 2 beds. We’ve booked one place with wotif and 2 places with airbnb so far. We have booked accommodation over christmas thankfully as that’s likely to be a hard time to book.

Flexibility means that this week we were able to throw in a weekend in London in January and see a show or two. We have booked the shows and the Paris-London-Paris eurostar (around 2 hours 15 min each way). We will be seeing Matilda together and the other 2 will also be seeing Wicked. I saw Wicked in Sydney so I’m going to hang in London that day.

I’m a wee bit excited about going to London again which is a bit weird. I have spent more time in London than anywhere else outside Oz altogether, and house-sat occasionally. I immediately thought of a whole bunch of things I want to do and figured I needed a week minimum, however we’ll stick to the weekend. I will try to get Harrod’s as their food hall is the only place I’ve ever been able to buy Valrhona chocolate covered orange peels and they are my favourite. I’d also like to go to Kensington Gardens and see the Peter Pan statue in the snow. I usually like to pay my respects to Peter each time I visit London. I also want to go to my favourite museum, the John Soane Museum.

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trip stuff

Heading off in a week or so for a 6 week holiday in Europe. I am alternately between sheer panic and totally chilled. Flights are booked, a couple of trains are booked, accommodation for first place and for christmas have been booked. I’m mostly ok with that, on the other hand I panic occasionally as there’s 3 of us travelling together and I’m not used to travelling with other people. This time it’s with my partner and Ms15.

Starting in Copenhagen and mostly spending time in Germany (for traditional christmas markets) and France, finishing off with a few days in Barcelona. Been a busy year and it’s been hard to plan or think things through. The last time I did a big trip was 3 weeks around Borneo in 2012 with Intrepid so everything was taken care of. My previous trips to Europe have usually been self guided and self propelled, on occasion finding accommodation on the fly. With that said, tech has improved a lot and I’ll probably get a local sim for my phone with data so I can carry on as usual. I doubt I’ll need rely as heavily on local internet cafes as I used to in the old days.

I had mostly decided not to take my laptop which surprised my partner. However I’ve been rethinking this week that it would be handy to have with me, particularly if we’re weighing up options throughout the trip. Phone and tablets can handle some things but they’re not great for having lots of tabs open.The other advantage of the laptop is that I can use it to back up our photos as we go. I’m toying with the idea of making my NAS remotely accessible and backing up the photos to it as well. That might be overkill and create more headaches.

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My tablet is a 2013 edition of the 7″ nexus and while it’s still nice, it is getting a little long in the tooth and not recharging as well as it used to. I am considering picking up a new tablet duty-free, possibly the 8″ samsung galaxy S2. Unfortunately my phone isn’t dual sim so I’ll need to swap sims occasionally to check for messages from home though most friends use various messenging apps to contact me, family less so. And of course, I’ll have my ereader with me, one can’t have too many devices. The only remaining item in the photo is my old psion 5mx from 1999 – it shall remain at home :)

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keep on trying

I have been reading feminist literature for a fair chunk of my life (and had conversations with feminist friends and generally tried to live a more otherness aware life) and I continue to discover things where I, as a white male, continue to fail. Or perhaps not so much fail, as not quite understood the perspective of others. Sometimes this happens repeatedly…for years…before I manage to get a clue.

The latest one was this:

In tech, a common pattern is for hiring managers to say “I don’t care who you are, just show me your hobby projects on github, or your think-pieces on medium” but a bit of reflection is all it takes to realize that screening based on free-time pursuits gets you more affluent white men than it does underemployed single moms.

Time to do stuff is not equal for everybody. In library circles that can mean time to spend on conference committees, to do volunteer work, to admin elists and so on. For most of my life I was single, white male with a job and seemingly endless amounts of free time. That in turn begs the question of why haven’t I done so much more, which is answered by my sheer, bloody laziness and ability to procrastinate.

However I have continued to say that volunteering requires giving up your own time to do stuff for others. That’s easy when you’re a single, white male. That’s what privilege looks like. I now live with a partner and she has 3 kids. My ability to “give up” time no longer exists, I no longer have privileged control over my time. My time is shared with others. She has given up a lot of time for the kids.

That’s not a complaint about my current situation.

In the old days, I’d come home from work, switch on the TV, or the playstation, perhaps get round to cooking, or heating up a frozen dinner (more likely as I hate cooking), pour myself some wine and so on. These days, we return home, the number for dinner is variable and occasionally unknown, depending on the movement of the kids (15, 18, 21). Post dinner is variable depending on what others are doing…time on the playstation is negotiated. I’m playing skyrim again and I can’t spend entire weeks/months playing it like I could when I was alone. There might be alternative options eg my partner and I are currently watching Once Upon a Time with Ms15, however they sometimes like to watch Nashville together which I’m not interested in.

I seem to have little time to volunteer, or at least I think I have little time and that may be more a reflection that I’m still trying to think in context of my old life while trying to adapt to my new life. Adaption is taking me a long time as I’ve been with my partner fort 4 years and living altogether fulltime for 2 years. I am reminded that as I think these sorts of things, I am still exercising privilege as these sorts of things are not “options” for others, nor having the luxury to ruminate on them.

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sat nav

I’ve never owned a sat-nav. I have on occasion, used google maps on the phone. Going to a new place I may check google maps at home to get a sense of where a place is. In olden days, I’d rely on on a printed street directory, I still have one in the car. But turn by turn driving, with computer voiceover, no thanks.

When driving I like a broad sense of where I’m going and then I generally fudge a bit when in the right-ish vicinity. Sometimes in moments of desperation I will get the phone out and find out where the bloody hell I am. This approach is not particularly efficient, a little bit lazy, and a little bit stubborn.

I reflect on this occasionally when playing video games, or should I call them computer games, though both terms sound a little archaic. Grand Theft Auto for example does a fullish sat-nav thang wih a coloured line from your car to your destination that recalculates if you take a different course.

map of skyrimHowever I think the Skyrim approach works best for me. It puts a spot on the Skyrim map where I’m heading and I can see a rough idea of the terrain between it and me with a sense of where the major route may lie. That’s about it. I journey toward that point, not quite directly. Diversions occur, weird paths cross my own and beg to be followed. I head off on detours, all the while keeping in mind where I’m ultimately heading.

Travel for me, in gaming and in life, is rarely about getting from point A to point B.

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systematic fun

I’d been wanting to do something with my desktop machine for a while as the Mac Pro is getting a little dated. The chipset hasn’t supported the last few versions of MacOS, and is still on Lion. At the start of the year, I decided to migrate to a mac mini and have been keenly waiting each Mac announcement, only to be disappointed at the lack of hardware upgrades.

Apple finally announced a bunch of hardware stuff a couple of weeks ago and overall, they were a wee bit underwhelming. Macbook pros still don’t support touch screens and instead have a touch bar to replace the function key row. The bar is sorta cute and it’s nice to see an alternative to function keys but nothing earth shattering. On top of that, there was bugger all to say about mac minis or the current mac pro, though at least they haven’t been phased out. Even the microsoft hardware announcement was way more interesting.

Last weekend I went out and bought a mac mini (2014 model, 8GB ram, 1TB drive). I had been weighing up my options and was also considering the Gigabytes Brix and Intel NUC. The mini had the advantage of OS compatibility whereas the others would have required a migration from mac to windows. A key requirement was photo management so I would have had to purchase Adobe’s Lightroom for the winbox whereas MacOS comes with their current photo software, Photos (iPhotos is the old version on my MacPro that’s no longer supported).

Gone are the days when changing machines meant running two systems side by side for a week while you moved stuff across. Setting up the mac mini was dead easy:

  • start it up
  • connect to network
  • connect to Pro’s Time Machine backup (on NAS)
  • automatically transfer data – a few hours via wifi
  • update software
  • remaining step is to upgrade MacOS from El Capitan to Sierra

Time consuming but painless. My windows experience of migrating machines is also time consuming but with occasional pain. Time machine is the best backup system I’ve used and I’d love to be able to use similar for my non mac devices. With that said, upgrading the laptop from Windows 8 to Windows 10 was dead simple and pain free, similarly android.

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five in a while

It’s a been a long, long while since I last blogged five things:

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Day 1 updates

I did indeed buy Rise of the Tomb Raider at lunch on first day of release and left work early to go home and play it. Got home, loaded it and then sat back while it started to download the 2GB Day 1 patch release. Thankfully I eventually realised that I could start playing without waiting for the patch to finish loading. One thing I like about modern gaming is being to play now and not have to wait for updates. I’m now most of the way through the game and generally loving it. Some nice story development and interesting puzzles.

This week, on day 1 of release, I bought the new Matthew Reilly, The Four Legendary Kingdoms. It’s also the fourth book in the Jack West series. I’m currently two thirds of the way through and looking forward to finishing it over the weekend. Trying to balance the new book, the new game, holiday preparations, and regular life is proving to be a little challenging at the moment :)

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