nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
( Mar. 18th, 2014 09:59 pm)
I felt the urge to rewrite my introduction so I thought I’d use it as a starting point for a Subscription Meme, as I haven’t seen one going around for a while.

I’ve made a template, which I’ve filled out very wordily below. Please feel free to adapt it to your wishes, and please link this post wherever you like. (Please participate or share? I'm going to feel very sad if this entry sits here alone with 0 comments...)

Subscription Meme template:
<b>People in this journal</b>
<b>About my job</b>
<b>Some random facts</b>
<b>Things I like to do</b>
<b>Fandom</b>
<b>Social media usage</b>
<b>>Subscriptions, access and commenting</b>
<b>What I’d like to get from my participation here</b>


My responses! )
tags:
Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
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In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

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From her “Brave Beauties” series.

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nanila: me (Default)
( Aug. 12th, 2017 09:04 pm)
Telstar
Handsome tuxie sticks his tongue out at you from his sunny perch atop the wood shed.
  1. What is the most outrageous style you've ever rocked?
    Probably this one:

    (That's me in 2003, wearing a green vest, black trousers & boots, sunglasses and very long dreadlocks. I'm carrying the tiny metal box that functioned as my handbag in those days.)

  2. As a teen, were you an emo, goth, punk, grunger, or prep?
    As a young teen, I was trending toward goth, but I didn't go full rivethead until I was at university.

  3. Have you ever had a crazy hairstyle/colour?
    I have worn unnatural shades of hair colour: green, blue and purple. I don't really think of dreadlocks as "crazy".

  4. Do you think we ever really grow out of our teen selves?
    Um, yes, definitely. Thank GOODNESS.

  5. Is there any fashion style you wish you could wear but maybe don't have the confidence?
    I would definitely love to be a bit more goth/rivet still. It's not that I lack the confidence, it's that I don't have the time, the money or the energy to maintain the look. I spend what resources I do have on my kids' wardrobes, not my own. Also, it would be pretty incongruous at my work, which is small-c conservative.


Questions are from the [community profile] thefridayfive community.
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The bloke’s parents with their heart-shaped homemade cake. The chalkboard next to them colourfully reads: “Welcome to Lodge 106. Happy 50th Wedding Anniversary! Have an excellent holiday. 😊”

A couple of weekends ago, we went to a Center Parcs with the bloke’s family to celebrate his parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Each family stayed in separate lodges, and we joined together for lunches, activities, tea and evening meals.

Going to a big resort-type thing in a forest in the school holidays seems to be a rite of passage for English children. Everyone else in the family (actually being English) had this innate understanding of how things were going to work and what was going to happen. I, on the other hand, was completely in the dark. I didn’t know that the “swimming pool” was going to be a massive indoor waterslide park with separate areas for children of all ages, for instance. Or that bringing our bicycles was not just so we could get some exercise, but so we could pop out to the shop for some milk for five minutes rather than have to walk for half an hour. The place was gigantic and – it being the start of the summer holidays – completely full.

The wildlife, being accustomed to the presence of humans, was very nearly tame. If you left the sliding door to the patio open, the ducks would waddle confidently inside in search of whatever food you had foolishly left out. The squirrels would take nuts from your hands. The muntjac deer would walk up to the patio door and stare in, and not run away until the toddler came outside and tried to pet it.

We had a truly typical British summer holiday experience in that it rained nearly the entire time, so we spent a good amount of time in the water park. Humuhumu was, at first, slightly afraid of the water slides. Subsequent to our first trip to the water park, we bought her some goggles and that flipped the switch. We couldn’t get her off the water slides after that. She went round them so many times that when we went to the changing room to get back into our clothes, she could barely stand, she was so exhausted. I only got the chance to try the water slides once for about ten minutes (during which Keiki apparently screamed for me the entire time), so I went for the biggest one (twice): the Cyclone, which you went down on a rubber raft in a group. I got to go with my niece and her mum, aka the bloke’s sister. I shrieked like a banshee the whole way down. It was fantastic.

Despite the filthy weather, we managed to sneak in some outdoor activities. We played boules. We climbed around the adventure playgrounds. I took Keiki to the pond, where the nearly tame baby moorhens nibbled at his wellies, to his boundless delight. We also found a peacock, with whom Keiki had a half-hour conversation. I turned my back on him briefly and when I looked at him, he had moved close enough to the peacock to stroke its tail feathers. The peacock held itself very still, almost as if it didn’t want to frighten him, when really it should have been the other way round.

The wedding anniversary celebration came off very well indeed. There was a huge, heart-shaped and delicious sponge cake, baked by the bloke’s sister, and a “cheese cake”, which was a mountain of stacked cheeses. The bottom layer, an enormous squishy brie, had to be served separately because it would have collapsed under the weight of the wheel of harder cheese above it. This was not a problem because we devoured it over the course of two days. Most importantly, the bloke’s parents had a wonderful time being surrounded by, but not in the pockets of, their children and grandchildren.

Further photos below the cut, including a series titled “Keiki Points at Things”.

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In case you’re wondering why there aren’t so many photos of Humuhumu, this is because (1) she wanted to go to the water park pretty much every waking moment, (2) you couldn’t take photos in the water park and (3) Keiki did not want to go to the water park more than once a day, so someone had to stay with him.
August is, apparently, the season for Certificates of Appreciation in spacecraft engineering!

First up is the one for Solar Orbiter.
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This has an image of the spacecraft approaching the Sun in the upper right corner. It reads, “This certificate recognises the significant contribution of [nanila] to the development of the magnetometer instrument on the Solar Orbiter spacecraft. In recognition of this contribution, your name will be carried within the memory of the magnetometer instrument on its voyage to explore the Sun and the inner solar system.” It’s signed by the instrument PI (Principal Investigator) and instrument manager (my fantastic colleague and labmate Helen).

My name’s going to the Sun! (TBH I’m glad it’s just name. It’s a bit...lethal-radiation-y out there.)

Second is the one from Rosetta.
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This as, as its backdrop, a stunning close-up image of Comet 67P taken by the OSIRIS instrument. There’s a sketched Rosetta spacecraft in the upper left corner, and a sketched Philae in the lower right. It reads, “European Space Agency presents this certificate to [nanila] in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the ESA Rosetta Mission.” It’s signed by the Director of Science at ESA, the Rosetta Mission Manager and the Rosetta Project Scientist.

Finally, here’s an old one from the Cluster and Double Star anniversaries.
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This one has an image of the Sun and the Earth (not to scale), as well as the Earth’s magnetic field in blue. The four Cluster spacecraft are in formation at the bottom right and the two Double Star spacecraft are closer to the Earth. Also not to scale (“These are small and those are far away”).

The certificate reads “Cluster 15th and Double Star 10th anniversary. ESA and NSSC present this certificate to [nanila] in recognition of your outstanding contribution to the Cluster and Double Star missions.” It’s signed by the Chinese National Space Science Center director, the Cluster & Double Star project scientist and the Director of Science & Robotic Exploration at the European Space Agency.

The Cluster mission is now in its 17th year since the commissioning phase ended and still going strong. The Double Star spacecraft are no longer operational.

I’ve worked on the Cluster mission since 2006.
In which I envisage using contemporary CBeebies shows for sexual orientation and gender identity educational purposes. Honestly, I kind of wish they would.

Octonauts
Episode in which Shellington, aka the walking encyclopedia, comes out as non-binary.
Kwazii: “Shiver me whiskers! Who knew you could be a boy AND a girl at the same time?”
Tweak, biting meaningfully into a carrot: “Duh, Kwazii.”

Charlie & Lola
Episode in which Lola decides to be a boy.
At the end, Charlie reprises the intro: “This is my little brother Lola. He’s small, and very funny.”

Bing
Episode in which Bing discovers his feelings for Pando are different from his feelings for Sula or Cocoa.
Flop: “Queer love: It’s a Bing thing.”

Clangers
Episode in which it is revealed that Clangers are sexually undifferentiated and reproduce via parthenogenesis.
Narrator: “Somewhere, out there in the vastness of space, there is a species whose stories have resisted being shoehorned into heteronormative human expressions of family life. Up until now, this wasn’t one of them.”
Yes, even after an entire year, I am still playing Pokémon Go. Not with the regularity that I used to, but both the gym re-vamp and the recent special events revived my interest. You can actually win gym battles as a solitary player again because all the gyms aren’t stuffed full of Dragonites and Gyarados! And the raid battles get you cool stuff! And the coin rewards are way better.

Also, it took 53 weeks, but I finally hatched a Snorlax from a 10km (reduced to 3.3 km during the most recent fest) egg. I love it so much. Adorable cuddly Snorlax.

Perhaps even more unbelievably, I am also still playing Neko Atsume. There was an update recently adding two more Normal and one Rare cat, and also new toys, which are very suited to the Sugary and Café Styles.

Abyssrium has also recently revived my interest with special event fish and the new “fusion fish”. The appearance of the latter interfered somewhat with my goal of finishing off Levels 1 through 3 of the Collections (Level 4 is pretty much impossible until you get to ridiculously high levels). I have just a few more Vampire Squid to make before I’m done with Level 3 and then I can collect the rest of the fusion fish.

I’ve completed Magikarp Jump’s Ultra League, the eighth and last. One of my tiny satisfactions has been ensuring that the Magikarp who win the leagues have appropriate names. For instance, Stitch won the Great League and Lilo won the Fast League. You have one guess who won the Ultra League.

The bloke discovered a game that we both like called Samorost 3, while searching for a replacement puzzle game for the beautiful and creepy “The Room” series that we both completed. The artwork in Samorost 3 is wonderful and the puzzles are possibly even more cryptic than in The Room, although apparently not if you’re four and have been playing touch-screen-based games for your entire life. We got stuck on something and Humuhumu figured it out in about five minutes, thereby making us feel both old and incredibly thick. Thank you, child.

Anyway, Samorost 3 features an elfin creature in a nightcap wandering around through a strangely organically populated space. There are comets and planets and asteroids, but they are all shaped like seeds or bulbs or tree trunks. You run around exploring, using your trumpet to hear music and sounds that give you clues about the puzzle you must solve to keep your spaceship moving and complete the narrative. It’s lovely to look at and very absorbing. It’s also not free. Still, highly recommended.

Gratuitous pictures of gameplay under the cut.

Abyssrium, Magikarp Jump, Neko Atsume, Pok�mon Go )

How's everyone else's summer gameplay going? Anyone else still playing PokéGo?
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[Image of a Cassini spacecraft model inside a black gimbal structure comprised of three concentric rings, mounted on a plexiglass stand and sitting on the corner of a desk.]

Now that I'm back at work, I present another of my Rare Objects from Space History for #tbt. This is a model of the Cassini spacecraft, mounted in the centre of what I can only think to describe as a gimbal. The high gain antenna is pointed toward the bottom of the photo. The model was distributed to instrument teams to aid them with pointing design. It can be rotated around three axes within the gimbal. Each circle of rotation is marked in degrees, so that from a set of numbers indicating its orientation (eg "RA & dec"), an instrument engineer can work out which way the spacecraft is pointing.

I have no idea when it was originally given to our team but it predates me joining the Cassini project (ca 2006).
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Jul. 4th, 2017 10:22 am)
We went to the pub last night to sit by the canal and enjoy some celebratory holiday pizzas. After a couple of lime and sodas, everyone got a bit silly and our (eye, not drinks) glasses got mixed up.

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[Humuhumu and Keiki grinning across a wooden patio table at the pub. Humuhumu is wearing Daddy’s sunglasses and Keiki is wearing mine.]

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