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Posts Tagged ‘geekery’

Time for another one of these posts. I’ve been collecting the items in this one for a couple of months now, dumping them in a draft post whenever I think of them. So if they seem like things I should have mentioned earlier, then that’s why.

IMPORTANT: As always this is not a judgement, but an observation, of difference. It’s not right, or wrong, just different. Generally these items are the small things that I don’t realise are going to be a challenge until I was actually here.

1. English keyboard layout. I touch type, which is a useful skill when you are tired and need to type but don’t want to keep your eyes open (did this once at work, suprisingly relaxing, and gave a surprising focus on the act of letting words flow) . The UK keyboard layout is different to the Australian one. Both follow the standard QWERTY layout, but some of the symbols are in a different place. Specifically ” @ # ~ £ (which isn’t on the Australian keyboard at all) and the left shift key, which I tend to use the most, is shorter, which makes shift+ctrl combinations a bit trickier.

Probably I’d adapt more quickly if I’d not imported my Australian laptop for use at home.

2. Driving speeds are both faster and slower. So my judgement of distance as a pedestrian and my confidence on motorways is being tested. I miss gaps to cross the busy road out on the way to work, as cars here don’t tend to accelerate to fill a gap, like they tend to in Australia. Whereas standard speed on a motorway is over 120kms/hr which is too fast as a standard speed for my comfort at this time. Also, distances left between between cars are shorter, as are the gaps left when changing lanes. This makes me a bit of a nervous passenger at the moment, this will probably change the more I drive around and get my own confidence back.

In related news we picked up a car on the weekend from Jed’s parents, so we’re more mobile again. Yay! I’d missed driving. Now to find the balance between relying on a car, and continuing to enjoy the trains.

3. No laundry + front loading washing machines. This is an odd one. I miss line dried sheets, and lined dries clothes. Baked in the Australian sun, partially bleached, blown dry by warm winds. Dried on a clothes airer inside is just not the same, and dried in a dryer is really, really not the same.

Also, washing used to be something I did once, on the weekend. Now I’m finding myself doing a load almost every day. Partially this is the doubling of washing with two people, but it’s also a function of a smaller, front-loading washing machine and reduced line space.

4. Brands – they’re different. Which has become shorthand for all the small things that are different.  A couple of weeks after I first arrived we went grocery shopping, and Jed asked me to choose some biscuits for the house. I just stood there. He asked me to hurry up and choose, and I couldn’t. I had no pre-evaluated matrix of biscuit type, by brand, by price, by quantity. One of those things you take for granted (e.g.: “ah ha! what I want is Arnott’s iced vovos!”). A practical example of paralysis of choice.

Now, if anyone asks me what I want, and I find myself dithering and confused because it’s a small thing for which I don’t have a pre-judged matrix of value then this is the explanation line – “It’s like biscuits!”. Helpfully, this is a light-hearted way of indicating that the problem is environmental, rather than individual and more generosity is given for a decision to be made.

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Yesterday I drafted a long post about the major lesson from last week, and how it relates to the 6 months prior to this. It’s really deep and revealing and emotional, but after the last 24 hours (go, go gadget crisis divorce negotiation as it applies to the meaning of life – I want that on my CV!) I’m all out of ability to plumb emotional depths.

The Plough, St Johns

This is where we had dinner on our one night off, Tuesday. There’s an Australian bar tender there. Surprise! Well, she was when she found out I was from Newtown. She’s from Wollongong.

So last week:
Was the week of parenting.
We had L with us every night except Tuesday, and all of the weekend. Exhausting! There were a couple of melt-downs from everyone, including me. At one stage I found L curled, hiding, up IN THE BOOKCASE, because her lego wasn’t working. We survived, no-one died, in fact we’re all a bit stronger for it, although rather tired and wanting to never, ever, do that again. (Same as we will never, ever go to McDonald’s for breakfast, despite the secret hopes of a 10yr old girl).

Was the week of Australian friends.
I saw Bec-Juliana, Sharon-Aeron and Mikki and Justin on Saturday. To say goodbye to Mikki and Justin before they move to NZ (sneef!), to have a much needed vent and rant with Bec about life and work and cultural clashes (and visit Kew Gardens for the 3rd time ever, I need a membership), and to pick Sharon up from the airport for her week in England. I’m seeing her for dinner again tonight.

Was the week of flash games.
Jed and I escaped the child crazy in various flash games. I’m posting this from work, so I’ll chuck a list of URLs in the comments if anyone else wants to try them out. Beware, they are all time sucks. Except the duck game. That was fun.

Was the week of cleaning.
One of my reactions to the week of parenting was to clean. Lots. It was probably also a delayed reaction to the flat-mate drama last week. Our bedroom is now cleaned and decluttered, half the kitchen got a good scrub-down and we started packing for the move.

Was the week of money stress.
We need a better plan/system. We’re working on it. Nuff said.

(I’ll post the long emotional post later under a different heading. Which is actually a better idea, it fits the “On Flying” theme rather than a weekly update)

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not yet opened

After purchasing the Cafe Corner last month, (all photos of the model as now here) and getting out the lego that was shipped over with all my belongings, I’ve re-discovered the fun of lego model building. And discovered that I’m not the only one. There’s, not-surprisingly, entire communities out there, commonly called Adult Fans of Lego (AFOL).

I’ve spent some time over the last few weeks browsing various blogs and flickr sets looking at what other people have built based on the specifications for lego buildings inspired by this particular set and getting ideas (and I accidentally found this post via a completely different blog, it amused me lots, I feel like I’m making a similar confession). I’ve also realised that I’ve previously had a much more expensive, equally creative and yet bizarre hobby, aka the SCA, so if I choose to spend money on lego there’s no real problem. Oh, and there’s a pick-and-mix option on the lego.co.uk site, and a lego designer software which allows you to design a model, price it and then request a custom shipment. My first one should arrive this week. On the wishlist for birthday and Christmas are the Greengrocer and Fire Station sets.

By Tuesday I’d worked out that I had enough pieces from medical related lego sets I received as a child to build a quite decent medical clinic based on these specs. So, most of my spare time this week has been spent doing that. It’s gone through about 3 re-builds so far, as I’ve played with decoration, placement of the stair case and internal walls. The delivery this week will get me a black tiled roof, and enough pieces to hopefully finish it off. Well, except for a basement and a small access ramp I want to build…

Wednesday Jed and I went on the first of what might become regular weeknight a’ventures. We decided on dinner in London, specifically chinese dumplings and a colleague recommended a place in the Chinatown that made their dumplings in house. It was fantastic! Exactly what we were after, to the extent I declared it was nice to have “real food” at the end of the meal. Very reminscient of beloved dumpling places in Ashfield, and sitting on metal stools around communal tables in Thailand. We had two plates of pork and bamboo shoot dumpings, steamed and fried, a small place of soy chicken, and a small plate of bok choy. With rice and bubble tea/iced pineapple drink. All for £30. Heaven!

It was a wonderfully warm evening, and the sun was still up So we then wandered around China town. I introduced Jed to durian, as the smell of it was deliciously wafting across the courtyard. We bought two fortune cookies for dessert. Mine read “your dreams will soon come true”, I’m hoping it refers to a meaningful job. We ran around inside a Korean sweet shop, and came home with random boxes of chocolate biscuit-y things, and some black sesame glutinous rice balls. Nom!

Friday was games night with friends. Introduced them to Settlers of Catan which we recently acquired. Jed bases his strategy on observations of Mat(my former flatmate)’s tactics and we’ve decided that the development card deck is now called the “Mat wins” deck. It amuses us. Unfortunately the robber piece has also been renamed “the gimp”, which seems to amuse everyone except me.

Saturday I went to a friend’s birthday party in nearby Wallington, in which I got off the bus waaaay too early and had a nice walk from one town (Purley) to the next past gardens and fields. This map should give you an idea. I got off the bus halfway up Foxley Lane/A2022. I walked to Wallington, the next town NW of there) Only two blisters to show for it. On the other hand, my friend, the lovely Dee, lives so close that we can plan regular tea or beer catch ups, I just have to get off the train 3 stops earlier. This is really cool, as it was the one thing that was really missing. Regular chats with someone who’s not Jed.

Sunday we went Blackberrying up on the Common, picking a small ice cream container’s worth to make into a dessert later this week. It was warm and sunny, perfect for picking blackberries which were warm and juicy, although probably at their best in another week or two. Also perfect for getting the requisite blackberry scratches and unobservantly standing right next to a tall stinging nettle plant and getting stung on the back of an elbow. Which I did. All of which brought back many childhood memories. Including that nettles stings are nowhere near as bad as bull ant bites, or as icky as leeches, so I could just deal with it (all three of which occurred to me on one regular family camping trip up the back of the Hawkesbury).

A really nice weekend all up.

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It’s been a rather social week.

Monday I went to a private show at Camberwell College of Arts to look at their graduating student exhibition. My friend Flick (incidentally, not her real name, as I discovered after NOT finding her work) had just finished her MA in Conservation and the Ledger books she’d repaired were on display. I really Other exhibits included some papyrus, conserved in a “less innovative way” (code for, the Museum that owns the piece wouldn’t take my advice); a navy velvet Victorian jacket; a copy of Dante; a ‘heiroglyphical’ bible, essentially a version of the bible with some nouns replaced by line drawings and the images of a Norwich fabric pattern book from the 1700s which was still in Norwich, although it is going on display in September. Sounds like a good excuse for a viist. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and hanging out with Flick, getting the insider’s description of the works and the personalities of each conservator.

Managed to get lost on the way home, by taking the bus going in the other direction. I really miss my ability to zen navigate in this country. It’s probably because of a lack of familiarity with how everything connects, and this will change in time, nevertheless, it’s frustrating. On the other hand, I did get to fill in some of my knowledge of South London between Camberwell and Lewisham, so not all bad.

Wednesday I caught up with Brendan, who was on the London leg of his extended European holiday, and Monty, who hadn’t realised I’d moved over. We went out for curry in Brick Lane. I got to watch Monty haggle with the touts in front of each restaurant to get us a 20% discount, free beers and pappadums. I’d been to Brick Lane once before, on that occasion we walked into the 1st place we saw as we were all so hungry we didn’t care. This time round I got to see how it should be done.

Had a long lunch with Brendan the next day. It was perfect weather, so we headed to Canary Wharf (near where I work) and ate by the water. With the exception of Friday last week’s weather was gorgeous, similar to the best days in October in Sydney. If this is as hot as it gets all Summer then I’ll be happy.

Saturday we caught up with Scruffy & J to do a tour of Hever Castle, which is only two valleys away from our house. This is the castle that Anne Boleyn grew up in, and where she retired while Henry VIII was getting his marriage with Catherine of Aragon annulled. It was full of Tudor portraits, most of the ones J and I were familiar with from our costuming days. We lingered in these sections of the castle while Jed and Scruffy motored on ahead and had a relaxing recline on the lawn. Hever is surrounded by fantastically landscaped gardens built in the early 19th century to house the collection of artifacts that a member of the Astor family collected while he was the British ambassador to Italy. Some of these items date back 2000 years. I took many photos (of course) which will be on my Flickr account soon.

Yesterday we re-arranged the house to make it more liveable. Very happy with the results, and we could tell it was a success from the impressed exclamations of our flatmate, Robbie, when he came home.

Otherwise I’ve not got as much done this week as I wanted to, mostly as I bought two PC games on special last week, Rollercoast Tycoon 3 and Settlers 5, and have been sucked into the vortex of gaming. There’s a reason I wasn’t allowed to purchase anything like this until after I’d secured employment. Robbie is a PC gamer as well, so now evenings at our place consist of the 3 of us in the living room with our laptops going and the TV on in the background. Quite communal in a strange sort of way.

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