In which I envisage using contemporary CBeebies shows for sexual orientation and gender identity educational purposes. Honestly, I kind of wish they would.

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.”

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.”

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.”
Poll #17466 Battle of the Choux
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 47

Choux fight! Who will win?

View Answers

16 (34.0%)

31 (66.0%)

In other news, Boaty McBoatface, the submarine, is to live on the RRS Sir David Attenborough, the ship. All the internet's dreams have just come true.
Anecdote 1: Today I've had the ultimate "living in the countryside" experience.

I had to stop the car in the middle of the road.

To move a giant turnip.

Sadly there are no photos of this momentous occasion, as the event resulted in the countryside version of a traffic jam (two cars behind me, one car on the approach). So the poor turnip was hastily consigned to the hedgerow and I got back into the car.

It also demonstrated to me that I still think like a city person, for I automatically clocked the thing in the road as rubbish and chucked it away, rather than thinking, free comedy oversized vegetable == soup for days, and placing it reverently in my car.

Anecdote 2: Anecdote 2 is behind the cut because talk of ladybit gorezone )

Last night [ profile] imyril's other half showed me this photo, which he took in Puerto Rico in late 2005.

In the full version, [ profile] imyril is visible. I've cropped her out because she doesn't put photos of herself on the intertubes.

Anyway, on being shown the photo, my thought process went like this.

"Oh, I remember being there! San Juan, at the fort. Dang, [ profile] imyril looks good there. But whodat by the lamppost next to her? She's kind of a hottie, but she needs a haircut. I sympathise with that last bit. Story of my li--HOLY SHIT THAT'S ME."


(I'm still processing that this was taken more than ten years ago)
Exhibit (A): The baby-changing room at the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham. It is nice and clean and very orange. It also has a spinning disco ball above the changing table. Which, apart from actually being rather good at keeping baby mesmerised, is just so very Brummie. (Shiny metal sign reads: "In the interest of safety, please do not leave your child unattended on the changing facility".)

Exhibit (B): British Waterways public notice on a bridge over the canal.

I consider this worthy of a full transcription [parenthesised comments by me]. It reads: "British Waterways Board*: The waterways are meant to be used and enjoyed by the public. It is an offence to:
  • Waste water by interfering with locks and sluices [Fair enough]
  • Ride a bicycle or bring a vehicle on the towing path without a permit [A vehicle I can understand, but I wonder how many cyclists know they're supposed to have a permit! And where exactly to obtain one?]
  • Obstruct the towing path
  • Damage the canal or towing path
  • Interfere with boats
  • Leave litter [Hollow laughter. Also, someone please tell that to the people who put their dogs' poo in plastic bags and then hang the bags from the hedgerows. Speaking as one of the people who cares for a section of hedgerow next to her back garden: NO. NO NO NO. You have taken a problem - people leaving their dogs' poo in public places - and made it worse by rendering it immune to the process of decomposition. I DO NOT LIKE YOU.]
  • Pollute the canal [More hollow laughter. And please tell it to the people I see using sticks to flick their dogs' poo into the canal instead of bagging it up and taking it away like decent responsible dog-owning human beings.]
  • Fire guns or throw stones [I don't want to meet the person who would go duck-hunting with their shotgun on the canal.]
  • Ride a horse on the towing path (unless it is a designated bridleway) [I've walked a fair few miles of the towpath and have yet to encounter any sections that are bridleways.]
  • Bathe in the canal [WHAT DEAR LORD NO]
  • Fail to obtain or display an appropriate licence or river registration on craft navigating the waterway"

* Now the Canal and River Trust
nanila: (kusanagi: amused)
( Oct. 28th, 2014 05:32 pm)

[YouTube video, 26 seconds, of Humuhumu playing with her electronic keyboard]

I want to write a big long birthday post for Humuhumu but it's on hold until this work week is over. In the meantime, have a short video of her treating her parents to a serenade with the microphone using her new electronic keyboard. Her rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" is...special. The last second of this video sends me into paroxysms of laughter every time.
Poll #15052 Overly Honest Methods
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 23

The bloke just got a new chip-based humidity sensor. Being the mature, experienced researcher that I am, I suggested that he test it

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by breathing on it.
3 (13.0%)

by sticking it up his nose.
5 (21.7%)

by putting it down his trousers.
15 (65.2%)

I encountered a problem with some data yesterday. The amount of time I allocated to attempting to fix it was

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as much time as I needed to complete it
1 (4.3%)

the length of the Series 5 DVD of "Red Dwarf"
22 (95.7%)

nanila: eins zwei drei kitten (laibach: kitten)
( Dec. 29th, 2013 01:39 pm)

[Image of a winking tuxedo cat lounging in bed]

Hello. I’ve appropriated the journal of my human [personal profile] nanila because, apparently, another feline-controlled human ([personal profile] ironed_orchid) requested that I describe the manner in which I spend my days. I have graciously agreed to respond.

I’m an early riser. I like to go out for a prowl just as the sky is beginning to lighten. If I’m locked in the house because some idiot has blocked off access to the cat flap, I kindly let them know. Eventually they stumble downstairs mumbling something about, “effing cat” and “unholy yowling,” which I take as an expression of their gratitude for my continued presence in their lives, and open the door.

I spend anywhere from five minutes to three hours outside, depending on the weather, and then re-enter the house and put in the call for breakfast. It is generally served with more mutterings about “not tripping me with your confounded leg-weaving”, which I understand means that they’re honoured to serve me promptly.

I then make a thorough and leisurely tour of the house via the medium of naps during the day. I nap on the sofa. I nap on the day bed in the male human’s study. I nap at the top of the stairs. I nap in the large bed. I nap under the large bed. I nap in the conservatory. If the female human is working from home, I occasionally remind her to take a break for a cup of tea by walking up and down in front of her monitor and jumping on her keyboard. This prevents her from fossilising in front of the computer. It is an act of such magnanimity that I deserve a treat.

The baby human is quite tired when she arrives home in the evening, but she has enough energy while she is having her bath and getting into her pyjamas to provide me with her daily adulation. I approve of this, and encourage it from a safe distance.

After that, it is time for my supper, or diced meat of the finest cuts slathered in gravy, which they call “gooshy food”. I consume this with relish. I return to the front room and deign to sit with them for a time on the back of the sofa, surveying all with slitted yellow eyes. I often have a second prowl as an interlude. Of late I have been having disagreements with my large orange neighbour, Spike, over possession of my garden. These disagreements occasionally leave marks. Having asserted my dominion, I return indoors for my main snooze.

This is a true and faithful account of the manner in which I spend my days. Our very best wishes for the continued health of the human [personal profile] ironed_orchid from Telstar (and [personal profile] nanila).

[Image of Telstar and his Santa-hatted human]
  1. I’m constitutionally incapable of remembering birthdays. Other than my own and the bloke’s - most of the time. I always have to think through the year of his, though. (“He’s younger than me. How much younger? Ah yes, X years. That makes it 19yy. No, 19zz. Um…”) I even recently forgot my daughter’s and I gave birth to her. Last year. (“There’s a scheduling conflict on that date? I don’t have anything in my work diary.” I had to ask the bloke why it was a problem.)

    As a result, I have no friends who become narked off when I don’t remember their birthdays. Presumably because the people who do decide never to talk to me again after the first time I commit this particular faux pas.

  2. I’m a very bad liar. Perhaps you don’t think it’s a bad thing that I’m incapable of covering my ass when I’ve done something hurtful, but it certainly is a bad thing not to be able to tell convincing white lies. (“No no, of course that’s not a terrible haircut.” Nope. Can’t do it. The best I can do is laugh uneasily and mutter something about how hair always grows back.) I also think that it devalues my sincerity, as I’m not doing it out of moral fortitude. I’m doing it because the only other option is causing even greater offense when I’m found out, which will happen anywhere between 0.000005 and 0.005 seconds later.

  3. I have no natural facility with any language other than English. This is one of my biggest regrets. I wish I’d learnt Tagalog or Ilocano as a child. I wish I’d shown enough interest in it for my dad to teach me at least the rudiments of either. I’m too old now for it to be anything other than a massive uphill struggle to learn, and I’m not focused enough (see next fault) to pursue it properly. So it’ll probably remain an unrepaired fault forever.

  4. I’m a dilettante. I’ve never managed to specialise in any intellectual endeavour enough to consider myself an expert. (Unfortunately for my self-perception, my metric for this is “spend five years doing a PhD and still think that isn’t long enough to study something properly because we discovered two years later that one of my chapters was wrong”.) I’m pretty good at multiple things but not brilliant at any of them, and I don’t have the dedication to do difficult things for long enough to fix that. I’m lazy, but in the peculiar way that makes it look like I’m not because I’m always doing something. It’s just not usually the optimal thing for me to be working on.

  5. I’m emotionally avoidant. Oh, I talk easily enough about the things I can turn into a funny blog post. But anything I can’t cope with? I’ll stick my head in the sand until it goes nuclear. I have resigned myself to the idea that this is a pattern I shall repeat, although it is encouraging that the intervals between Bites In Ass that this tendency provokes seem to be getting longer as I get older.

  6. I know my flaws better than I know my strengths.

These are, of course, only the faults of which I’m aware and have had time to reconcile myself with to a certain degree. I’m sure there are many others, but as I desire to preserve at least a few shreds of self-respect, I shall thank my friends not to spell all of them out now. Save it until I send your next belated birthday card.
We have returned from Vienna intact, if exhausted. Humuhumu has now been on an airplane four times. She was completely unfazed by the flights, even though she was both teething and recovering from a cold when we left.

Since we couldn't fly directly from Birmingham to Vienna, she also has experience of three European airports. Yes, we've just returned from one of the most beautiful, well-preserved and welcoming centres of culture in the northern hemisphere and the first thing I'm going to tell you about is airports. Maybe it's because we actually saw a large group of Germans in inexplicable yellow polo shirts while in Frankfurt airport.*

I have always been one to ascribe to Douglas Adams' stand that all airports are basically the same: soulless and depressing, with signs that serve to direct you exactly where you don't want to go when you only have two minutes left before the gate for your flight is closed. However, this journey showed me that we were wrong, or at least that the Austrians and the Germans read The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul and took the first chapter seriously enough to have revised their airports. The Belgians, on the other hand, need to be sent a highlighted copy with a Post-It note stuck on the front featuring a large sad face drawn in red felt-tip pen.

Without further ado, here are my brief reviews of said airports.
  1. Frankfurt Flughafen: We had to stay here for three hours. It is nicely laid out, clean and well lit, with clear signage and immigration officers who are tolerant of unhappy babies who don't understand that waiting in queues is something that simply has to be done sometimes. The baby changing rooms (babyraums) were plentiful, accessible to anyone (i.e. not in in the ladies' only) with paper provided for changing tables. They even had a chair in which one could sit and comfortably breast or bottle feed a baby. The terminals had free lounges with comfortable chairs and free wi-fi. It was all terribly civilised.

  2. Vienna Flughafen: This is the winner by a country mile. In addition to Frankfurt's charms, including babyraums, the Austrians have gone one better than the Germans and provided comfortable sofa-style seating at the gates (you can actually lie down if you want to), cubicle tables with power points and free wi-fi for those who wish to work and safe padded play areas for infants and toddlers. Also, some areas had a large projector screen with an Xbox-360 style interactive game on it for children. The airline staff took us through priority check-in and boarding, even though we were mere economy-class passengers. The security staff whisked us through a special queue for people with children. The only way it could possibly have been more pleasant is if someone brought you your coffee and cake instead of having to walk to the cafe to buy them. I was almost as sad to leave the airport as I usually am to leave Vienna anyway.

  3. Brussels Aéroport: After being uplifted by the previous two, Brussels airport brought us back down with an unceremonious thud. If your connecting flight is less than an hour after your previously flight has landed, you will have to spend the whole time running from one dismal situation to another. The immigration staff ignored the sobbing baby and carried on serving people at a stubbornly slow pace. The security staff were unhelpful. The already-inadequate seating at the gates was occupied by a lot of people who seemed to think their bags also needed a seat. I left thinking that Brussels was a particularly horrible airport, but then I remembered that that is what airports are normally like.

The moral of this story is that if you ever have to have a layover in Europe, try to make sure it's either in Germany or Austria.

* See: The opening chapter of The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul