July 25th, 2017
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 04:41pm on 25/07/2017 under , , ,
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )
July 24th, 2017
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 10:12pm on 24/07/2017 under , , , ,
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.



photodump )
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 12:47pm on 24/07/2017 under , ,
Just arrived in Riga, Latvia. Thought, hey, this hotel is teh cute!

Anya is like, "This hotel is familiar."

I realize that this is of interest to probably no one else reading this (sadly it would be if I were cross posting to LJ, where there is a teeny community for such things), but I'm staying in the hotel where they shot Seventeen Moments of Spring (as well as parts of the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.) And if you think I'm not geeking out like mad over this, you don't know me at all.

Fortunately, Anya is the person who introduced me to the series so she is also geeking out and is equally pleased that Stirlitz is watching over the beds in our room, judging whether or not we have adequately sacrificed and fought for the cause of anti-fascism:


Here's the view out the window:



(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here is my screenshot recap of Seventeen Moments after I watched it and decided that everyone needed to see it. Minus the image hosting, unfortunately; I'll need to fix that at some point.)
July 23rd, 2017
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 09:07pm on 23/07/2017 under , , , ,
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 01:17pm on 23/07/2017 under , , ,
We went to the Odessa Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful opera houses in the world.

behold! )
July 22nd, 2017
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 11:13pm on 22/07/2017 under , , ,
I did it! I got a picture of the unicorn.

click here )
July 21st, 2017
sabotabby: (coffee)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 11:09pm on 21/07/2017 under ,
I feel like this needs to be a separate post from the OMG ODESSA IS SO PRETTY post. For one thing, these were taken on my shitty cell camera and not my iPad. But also they're pictures I've taken when I've seen something hella weird and immediately need to inform social media.

Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:


What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?


No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:

1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.

To answer a question no one asked:

1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.



Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.

1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.
sabotabby: (magicians)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 10:33pm on 21/07/2017 under , , ,
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )
frandroid: A large sandworm in front of the fremen invoking him (Dune)
posted by [personal profile] frandroid at 06:46pm on 21/07/2017 under ,
Because I'm procrastinating. A bit on the cutesey side but whatever.

Wait, DW doesn't have a rich text editor?? I mean I usually prefer to enter my HTML manually, but here I could really use it. Motherfucker...

...

bold the ones that apply.

1. You currently own more than 20 books.
2. You currently own more than 50 books.
3. You currently own more than 100 books.

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader.
6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands.
7. You’re currently reading more than one book.
8. You read every single day.
9. You’re reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house: wallet, phone, keys, and a book.
11. You’ve pulled an all-nighter reading a book.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again.

13. You’ve figured out how to incorporate books into your workout.
14. You’ve declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read.
15. You view vacation time as “catch up on reading” time.
16. You’ve sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book.
17. You’ve missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book.
18. You’ve almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book.
19. You’ve laughed out loud in public while reading a book.
20. You’ve cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell).

21. You’re the one everyone goes to for book recommendations.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy.
23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it.
24. If your friend doesn’t like the book you recommended, you’re heartbroken.
25. And you judge them. A little bit.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them.
27. You’ve vowed to convert a nonreader into a reader.
28. And you’ve succeeded.
29. You’ve attended book readings, launches, and signings.
30. You own several signed books.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street.
32. In fact, you have.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you’d choose your favorite writer.
34. You own a first-edition book.*
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles.
36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day.
37. You have a “favorite” literary prize.
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year.
39. You’ve recorded every book you’ve ever read and what you thought of it.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home.
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor.
42. You gave your pet a literary name.
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands.
44. You’re a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you’re just texting.
45. You’ve given books as gifts for every occasion: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, graduations, Tuesdays...
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can’t choose just one. You end up naming twelve books.
47. You love the smell of books.
48. You’ve binge-read an entire series or an author’s whole oeuvre in just a few days.
49. You’ve actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you’ve finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure.



*: Most books are "first (and only) edition", so by that measure I own several; but for the sake of this question I'll assume that's a first edition of a book with multiple editions, where this edition has a higher market value.
frandroid: Hammer and sickle logo, with the hammer replaced with a LiveJournal pencil (lj)
posted by [personal profile] frandroid at 11:25am on 21/07/2017 under
I wish DW/LJ had a thing where there is no default icon and you're forced to choose one to make your post. I keep forgetting to pick one and then I don't want to trigger a useless edit notification for whoever is on the thread post-facto.

I went to take a look at the DW source. It's perl. No wonder no one wants to work on it. They should just restart from scratch. :P

ETA: So you can choose "no default" but instead of forcing you to choose, it picks none, and puts a DW logo watermark in the logo spot. *faceplam*
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 01:58pm on 21/07/2017 under , , , ,
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:





Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.
ironed_orchid: painting of woman sleeping (Sleep)
posted by [personal profile] ironed_orchid at 09:31am on 21/07/2017
I want an alternative evolution where humans hibernate in winter.
July 20th, 2017
nanila: fulla starz (lolcat: science)
posted by [personal profile] nanila at 01:12pm on 20/07/2017 under , , , ,
IMG_20170720_124419_753
[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).
Music:: john finnemore's souvenir programme - s2e1
July 19th, 2017
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 05:23pm on 19/07/2017
Today we were incredibly productive. We hiked up to High Castle, which technically is neither a castle nor very high, but I am still proud of us, dammit. It's quite a view. Some of the original castle remains, but it's not particularly impressive compared to the sight of all of Lviv.

there are cats and other things )
July 18th, 2017
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (ypg)
posted by [personal profile] frandroid at 11:02pm on 18/07/2017 under
I gave a breathless 5 minute introduction to the Kurdish side of the Syrian Civil War after a prompt on my t-shirt at an NDP event tonight... Wheee. And I'm thinking of making a 10-minute presentation to my co-workers, because why the fuck not. Let's see where this predicator business goes... :P
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 07:13pm on 18/07/2017 under ,
This is a gorgeous city, maybe even more than Kiev. It's also very much a City Of Coffee, and I highly approve. There's a café where, if you go into the basement, you can "mine" for coffee in the walls, but besides that, when we asked the hotel guy where to get good coffee, he looked at us weirdly and said, "it's ALL good coffee." A random selection would suggest he's right.

We did a walking tour, saw various churches, the Catholic Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, all of which seem very close together by contemporary standards. Lviv has changed hands over its history, and the references to Galicia made me do a Google and feel like an idiot because Lviv was in the heart of what had been Galicia, and that's where my grandfather was from.

Anyway, here is the new friend we made:



more pictures )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 09:03am on 18/07/2017 under ,
We took the overnight train and got in at 6 am. Our hotel booking isn't until 2 pm, so we've just been wandering around and taking pictures of all the pretty architecture.

click to embiggen )
July 17th, 2017
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 07:02pm on 17/07/2017 under , ,
Our last day in Kiev until the end of our trip. Here's a few quick glimpses of things we've seen, as we walked and walked. This is going to be a bunch of tiny pictures 'cause I'm writing from a café before we get on a night train for Lviv.

click for larger versions )
July 16th, 2017
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 04:37pm on 16/07/2017 under , ,
Viktor Yanyukovitch was president of the Ukraine from 2010-2014, until he was fairly dramatically deposed and fled to Russia as he is currently wanted for treason here. By all accounts, he was incredibly corrupt, and acquired the massive Mezhyhirya estate with public funds. As wealth and corruption is no guarantee of taste, when asked which architectural style he wanted to build his massive palaces in, he must have replied, "fuckin' all of them," because when protestors walked in and took over the place in 2014, they were appalled not just at the excesses (which included a car museum, a zoo, a golf course, several tennis courts, and orchards), but at his alarming taste in decor.

It now belongs to the people and is a destination for Ukrainians to have weddings, bike around, and generally point and laugh. Also there are gigantic thrones and Greco-Roman ruins for no apparent reason.

pictures! )
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
posted by [personal profile] sabotabby at 06:49am on 16/07/2017 under ,
I admittedly did little but eating and sleeping, as everyone is exhausted. We're staying right behind Maidan Nezalezhnosti, though, and even the laziest traveller could not fail to be moved by its beauty.



Post-2014 demonstrations, it is plastered with photos and memorials to the dead. No one goes out in Kiev this time of year except at night, when the fountains explode like fireworks and street musicians busk and young couples laugh and dance in the streets.











We grabbed dinner at an adorable café that, shock of all shocks, had food I could eat: mushroom kasha and vareniki stuffed with sour cherry, and sour cherry infused vodka.







Then exhaustion got the better of us and I probably slept more than I have in months. Awake bright and early now to do proper exploring.

P.S. Sorry for the size and quality of the images; DW's image hosting + being on my iPad makes for an unfortunate combination.







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