Wednesday 28 December 2011

A few more pics...

So, I figured out how to transfer pics from the camera to the computer, sans cord. Apparently, my computer has a little doodah that reads cards. Who knew? That still leaves one or two pics in the camera's memory that will have to wait until I find a cord, but, this is certainly better than nothings!

Oh, btw - Christmas pics are HERE.

And some other pics...

Country Inn...

Winter sunset, looking out over the back 40...

Deer and Windsor Castle.

The road to Windsor Castle...

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Dia del Salud. Oh yeah, and Christmas and Boxing Day

So, I was feeling a bit overfed today, not so surprising, considering that I had two Christmas meals on Christmas Day, not to mention a large meal yesterday (Boxing Day). So yeah, feeling a bit overfed today, so I thought, hmm, let's go for a bike ride and go to the gym. It was a lovely bike ride - 66 miles out to Windsor and back, plus the gym after. Needless to say, I'm feeling a bit tuckered out at the moment. But less overfed (of course, I just ate leftover turkey and am about to go hunt for some pumpkin pie). The pumpkin pie came from Whole Foods, in Kensington. It was about $16 and not very big. Kensington though, is a very rich area full of many Americans. What this means is that it actually has a really good supermarket, selling really good things like pumpkin pie, at many times their real price. Anyway, it was yummy.

Christmas was very nice - got up at a sensible hour, went for a nice run through the (relatively) empty streets. Then the three of us cycled 9 miles out to Chiswick to meet George and Neale (driving in from Slough) for the world's most expensive lunch (something like $130 each). It was actually pretty tasty, but still... Anyway, we went for a post lunch consitutional around St. James' Park after that in the failing light (me with a very nearly failing bladder, not improved by the fact that they had just closed the toilets). Then it was back here for presents and Christmas dinner - a whole traditional extravaganza cooked by Robin. Leonel came over for that, and we finally ate (a whole lot of) food about 10pm (and had a whole lot of mulled wine - also made by Robin). Not a bad day to spend Christmas.

Yesterday, Boxing Day, we went over to Paul and Ali's, along with about 12 other people, for a whole lot more food - didn't get back here until late last night.

So, yeah, a whole lot of food and a whole lot of people. Back to work tomorrow for three days - I'm hoping very much for it to be quiet.

Hmm - new camera doesn't seem to come with a cable that allows me to connect it to the computer. Charming - that means I'll have to wait on those pics. A few from my phone though...

Sometimes I have this dream I am being watched by sheep...

Our little window friend...

Aaahhhh! Alien invasion!!!!!

Martha Stewart, eat your heart out!

Thursday 22 December 2011

A Year!

Wow - it was a year ago today moved across the park into this house. A year ago it was cold and snowing, the roads were iced over, and I had to rescue the stuck van with handfuls of pelletised chickenshit under the tyres. The house was a mountain of boxes (with a Christmas tree bundled up in a corner). I was so tired and so stressed I can actually hardly remember the day. Today, well, the house still needs new doors (I mean, really, who puts doors with frosted glass on bedrooms?), it needs paint and we have yet to figure out what to do with the back yard - oh, and yeah, we still need art on the walls. But - it's had a new kitchen, a second bathroom, new light fixtures, furniture, a summer's worth of mad flower jungle, several parties, and it's actually becoming home. I still can't believe it's been a year.

So, today, the winter solstice, I got up in the pitch black dark, at 7 and went for a nice run as the sun just peeked over the eastern horizon. (Sunrise/sunset: 8:04am - 3:54pm). It was beautiful and warm this morning - oddly warm - almost like a southern California winter's morning. I felt virtuous out on my morning run (sad, I know). I remember a number of years ago, Dad made a comment about how he really liked being up at stupid o'clock in the morning to take the ferry to Seattle, as this let him see the sun rise. I said something oh so clever like as long as the sun was in the sky when I got up, I knew it would be another day, and I didn't need to get up early just to check! (I also hated the Grape Nuts commercial - "morning is your time"). Well, I'm still a zombie when I get up in the morning - I don't function until after I eat my breakfast (bacon, eggs, beans, milk, orange juice and coffee), but yeah, it's kind of nice to actually see the sun come up. Of course, it's a lot easier in December than it is in June (4:43am - 9:22pm).

Anyway - still working on what I want to do when I grow up. I've come across an MSc programme in Geophysical Hazards at University College London - seems to be designed for GIS-y type people (like me!) who are considering a career shift into hazards, which I am. Definitely worth a look.

That's about it for the moment. I do have lots of pics I need to put up - just need to get off my butt and do so!

Morning pastoral, Hackney style...

Then what such?

As they say here, it was a real tailback... (I know- groan).

Wow - not sure how anyone finds anything in that DIY store!

And for today's bad packaging award...

Thursday 8 December 2011

Going Dutch

Or, rather, I have finally figured out how to cycle home from the supermarket with shopping bags hanging from my handlebars. We live about 3/4 of a mile from the supermarket, which isn't so bad, but at night, when the park closes, it's a 1 1/4 mile walk, which is annoying, especially if it's cold, wet and windy, which it is tonight. I was never able to manage to cycle home with the bags hanging from my handlebars - they were too heavy and the swung wildly. Solution? Put the heavy stuff in my backpack and the light stuff hang from the handlebars. Problem solved. Of course, I could get a rack and panniers, and, in fact, I do now own panniers (though not yet a rack), but these are strictly for touring rather than daily use. Putting a rack and panniers on a bike is, as far as I am concerned, the equivalent of buying the minivan. I'm not quite ready for that yet.

Anyway, been thinking more about what I would like to do careerwise. Much as I would love to go back to pure geology, that probably isn't feasible, meaning I should find a way to tie in my GIS skills - build on my career rather than start it over again. I think I'd like to focus on urban hazards, as I've always been drawn to, essentially, people building in stupid places. And - I've always been really interested in our relationship with water - flooding, coasts, etc. This is likely to become a much bigger issue in southern England in the future, as they predict that summer is going to get drier, and the UK ain't got no sensible water policy! Anyway, we'll see...

Tuesday 6 December 2011


So, as per usual, I intended to write all sorts of amazing and astounding things when David and I were driving hither and yon, up and down the West Coast. What did I write? Well, mostly my name on credit card slips. I'm pretty sure that David and I managed to b eef up most of the previously moribund economy of California. Anyway, the trip was way the hell too short - only a week and a half, but we didn't have the vacation days to spare this year. We did learn a very important life lesson though - never ever take an 11 hour flight back and the end of a long day, because it pretty much sucks donkey dong - especially when they can't get either the jetway or the stairs to function properly at Heathrow and keep you on the plane an extra half hour!

So, we flew out to CA on the 18th - pretty much as flawless a flight as possible (for sitting in coach). Last row of the plane - easy potty access, and only David and me in the row. I actually made it through two entire newspapers on the way out, as well as some of my interminably long and boring book on the history of British urban planning. The brief period of time we were in SFO (the rest of that day and the following) we hung out with Heather (from Carleton - she schlepped down from British Columbia for the occasion). It's kind of amazing how huge amounts of time can pass and people don't change (well, except for popping out a kid, which, I suppose, is a slight change). Anyway, we just sort of dropped back into where we'd left off, which is nice - always a mark of a good friendship!

Sunday, David and I took our very swoopy white hybrid Camry (which only averaged a disappointing 35mpg) and headed off to Oregon (stopping to gym on the way - one must have priorities. Oregon was just as brief, but full of family, which is fab. A brief sojourn back through Sacto, a pop back to SFO for Tgiving, Riverside and San Diego. David was very brave and survived at least 75 of my closest relatives. Anyway, I would love to write more about all the fine details, but, to be honest, I'm tired and crabby and my brain feels a little bit like tapioca, so I suppose I will have to go with brief.

So, David and Robin are currently watching some movie on the TV in the next room, which means that I have the attention span of a gnat (very deer in headlights). I suppose more now and to the point is that I have decided to do something with my boring and going nowhere career. This has been brewing for a while, but I should probably say a lot of the catalyst was talking to Dad. Besides realizing that, well, I'm bored and not too excited about talking about what I'm doing jobwise, he made a point, and much as I hate to admit that it was a good one, it was. What's in the way of me doing what I would like to do? Me. So, I suppose it's time for Me to do something about it. Not quite figured out what it is yet, but I know, and I've always known I really need to reconnect to the Earth Sciences. That's where I started, but for sundry reasons - some of them good but most of them fairly sad and pathetic, I keep finding reason after reason that it just won't work. There are a few practicalities to keep in mind - I need to work, I can't go out and become a ballerina or join the circus (I'm really so bad on the trampolines - just wouldn't work), but I've started contacting programs in London having to do with spatial modelling and natural hazards. It would mean some number of years of zero social life, but if I could reconnect my GIS skills to something I really love, well, I'd be happy as a pig in shit. So anyway, some potential changes, and maybe next trip I take I'll actually blog during it! Yeah.