anarchist_nomad: (Default)
( Aug. 13th, 2017 10:37 am)
Speaking of important anniversaries, this weekend is the other super-important August anniversary -- that of mine & Chesh's relationship!

Technically, the anniversary itself was yesterday (12th August)... but since the original start of our relationship was a four day [long] weekend long affair, we are celebrating throughout the whole of this weekend.

That said, this year's festivities take a different form than most. In recent years, we have generally commemorated our anniversary with some sort of travel adventure. For instance, in 2015 we celebrated with a half-month road trip around Ireland; the year before that we took a two-week Mediterranean cruise.

This year is our first anniversary since we bought the House of the Red Roses. So we are doing something a little different. We are staying in and working on improvements to the house, using the time to build up our hearth and make an even-more-lovely home. We have been turning our energies inwards this time around to build something more lasting than another travel adventure.[*]

Of course, a little fun is also mandated on such a special occasion. Especially when the weather is this perfect -- something we have learned not to take for granted! Yesterday, we went out for breakfast at the new vegetarian cafe in our old neighbourhood (Crookes), and Chesh led a lovely Lammas ritual in a warm & sunny conservatory. In the evening, we also took a road trip through the nearby Peak District to appreciate the heather in all its blooming glory!

Today, the trend continues. There are books to unload on the recently-build bookcases. The kitchen needs to be restored / reorganised now that the paint is dry. And so forth. As a reward for all our hard work, we have a nice anniversary dinner to look forward to tonight -- followed by cards and gifts, of course!

The only thing I really have difficulty wrapping my head around is the number '23'. How in the world did so many years go by so fast? Although it is still too soon to make definite plans, we are starting to brainstorm ideas for how we want to celebrate our Silver Anniversary in 2019.

[*] Interestingly enough, I think the cost of our 'staycation' is comparable to many of our travel anniversaries. Over the past week or so, there has been painting done, new furniture purchased, an overhaul of the garden, et cetera.
anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Oct. 25th, 2013 12:50 am)
Haven't spend much time on LJ of late -- mea culpa, my friends! Methinks tis a combination of being very busy with other hobbies and the general relaxed atmosphere around here now that the tumbleweed is rolling down the corridors. Still, the lack of posting means I'm part of the problem; I count this as only my third entry for this month.

What's worse is that this isn't going to be a particularly exciting entry, either.
With Samhain coming, I've been doing some introspection... mainly thinking back on where I am now compared to recent years at this time.

As it turns out, one year ago today was the Big One at the Event Horizon. After weeks of packing, we got the moving truck and cleaned it all out. Oy -- what a month last October was! Hard to believe it has been a year already!

Two years ago today, I got Wally -- my current car. In the past two years, I have driven him 19,356 miles, and spent £2916.23 on diesel fuel. Adjusting for the fact that he was purchased empty and is now full, I have spent £2852.23 to drive those miles -- covering 6.8 miles per pound sterling (or, if you like, spent 14.7p per mile driven). My fuel efficiency is pretty good -- 9.6 miles per liter (or 36.5 miles per US gallon) -- but the cost of fuel here is much higher than what folks back in the States are used to. On average, I have paid £1.42 per liter... which, at today's exchange rates, works out to about $8.71 per US gallon. When Stateside people complain about the supposedly high cost of fuel, I point out that I would love to pay those prices. Four bucks a gallon would be delightful!

What else is going on when I compare now to previous Octobers?

I have now been in the same job for five years. In a time of great funding uncertainty in my field, this is not something that one can take for granted. So, yes, job stability is a good thing. Huzzah!

I have now been in the same serious UK-based relationship for nearly four years.[*] Four years ago right now, my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth and I were engaged in our pre-relationship flirting, which would last for several weeks. I was thrilled that so many of you were able to meet her earlier this month at the Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival! Hooray!

I have now been in the same flat for three years. Chiron Beta Prime is an improvement over the Flat With No Name in every possible way. Tis both bigger and more affordable. Yay!

And, as mentioned above, I have now owned the same car for two years. Wally has been rather reliable in that time, giving us nearly no problems whatsoever. Other than typical maintenance work -- replace the tyres, replace the brake pads -- he has needed to special care at all. Wahoo!

So, yes, many of the core aspects of my life -- relationships, job, home, car -- have all been very stable of late. This is a Good Thing. Not throwing boatloads of energy at job hunting... or relationship drama... or moving... well, it frees up that time and energy for doing things that I enjoy. Like travel... or bell ringing... or running... or theatre... or gaming... or swimming... Is good.

Thus, my dear friends, as Samhain approaches and the Dark Half of the Wheel settles in, I find myself feeling remarkable serene this year. May kick myself if I come back to re-read this in February, when I am well and truly sick & tired of the long dark nights this far North. But for now, gentle readers? Well, life is good!

[*] And, of course, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I are in our twentieth year together... which is also super-awesome!

Hello hello, gentle readers! I hope that everyone is having an awesometacular holiday season!

This year, for ease of reading (and writing), I have decided to split my journaling of Yuletide adventures into two parts. Instead of one "Twelve Days of Christmas", you get two "Six Days of Christmas" posts. Really, it works out to be six of one, half a dozen of the other.

Thus, without further ado, here is what everyone's favourite Nomad has been up to this Decemberween:

Day Zero: (Thu Dec 20) As the sun set at the start of the Longest Night, our coven -- Dreaming Spires -- lit a candle to hold the light through the long dark. Later in the evening, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat led us in a lovely Yule ritual.

Day One: (Fri Dec 21) At the distinctly dark hour of stupid o'clock five a.m., my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth, [ profile] cheshcat and I piled into the car and made the ~75 mile drive to Stonehenge. As noted in my previous post, this was my ninth dawn amongst the Stones -- three Summer Solstices, one Vernal Equinox, and five Winter Solstices.

The first seven Stonehenge dawns took after an early Pink Floyd album -- the Sun was Obscured by Clouds, making a cameo appearance... or often none at all. That changed last year, when we were fortunate enough to witness a spectacular Stonehenge Solstice sunrise!

After last year's great luck, I was ready to accept another year full of clouds, with memories to remind me how glorious the experience can truly be. Imagine my surprise, then, when we arrived at the henge to find the pre-dawn mist slowly dissipating, giving way to clear starry skies! That's right, my dear friends! For two years running, we have witnessed the Sun rising to signify the return of the light!

Don't just take my word for it, though! They say a picture is worth a thousand words... but, truth be told, I think these shots convey the beauty far better than any description that I could ever write:

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn

(click for full-sized version)

Guess Who? Your Friendly Neighbourhood Nomad greets his old friends, the Stonehenge Stones!

(click for full-sized version)

Here Comes The Sun! The first rays of light emerge over the horizon!

(click for full-sized version)

This is basically the same shot that I took last year, included here for comparison.
(Honestly, I liked last year's version of this one better -- what do you think?)

(click for full-sized version)

Um, wow. Just wow. Really, do I need to say anything else here?

(click for full-sized version)

From a different vantage point. If you look closely, you can see that the Sun is passing through two of the Stonehenge archways here. Behind the large inner arch in the foreground, there is also the lintel of an outer arch visible. Pretty spiffy, no?

(click for full-sized version)

Finally, the new Sun rose high enough that its brilliant light made everythng else seem dim by comparison. This one is taken well after Sunrise, and shortly before the site was cleared.

(click for full-sized version)

Two years in a row? How lucky is that?! And what an amazing way to welcome in the return of the light! Huzzah!!

Day Two: (Sat Dec 22) Much holiday prep during the day; in the evening, [ profile] miss_amaranth, [ profile] cheshcat went out for a delicious Yule feast at one of our favourite Oxford restaurants.

Day Three: (Sun Dec 23) Started the day by ringing a quarter peal of mixed doubles -- Plain Bob, April Day, and Grandsire -- at St. Nicholas Church in Old Marston. I am pleased to say that the quarter was a success; this makes my second quarter peal of the month.[*] Later in the day, I also rang at St. Giles Church before their annual candle-lit carol service. Along with [ profile] miss_amaranth and [ profile] cheshcat, we stayed for the service. The atmosphere is really quite lovely, with the church lit up by all those candles and the celebration of the season through singing!

Day Four: (Mon Dec 24) More holiday prep ensued during the day; in the evening, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I went out for a Christmas Eve dinner at The Old Parsonage Inn. Over the past couple of years, we have slowly been sampling some of the best restaurants in Oxford, splurging on an expensive meal for special occasions. This marks another one checked off the list! The food was absolutely excellent, and the venue was delightful -- particularly since we managed to reserve the table near the fireplace!

Day Five: (Tue Dec 25) In the morning, [ profile] cheshcat and I woke up early to see what had been left under the tree and to open our presents! I received many lovely gifts from my beloved... but, without a doubt, the most impressive was a fantastic new Citizen Eco-Drive watch! Vunderbar -- I have been in need of a new watch! Actually, this is my first analog wristwatch. I have always appreciated the art of timepieces but, until recently, opted for a high-tech digital watch for practical purposes. Now, after a quarter of a century, my smartphone can do everything any watch of mine ever could manage (and more)... which frees me up to go for aesthetics on my wrist, rather than functionality!

After all the unwrapping was done, we spent a bit of quality alone time together before packing up our bags (and a kitty) and heading out to London. Our destination was the latest home of D&J, who were hosting the Christmas feast. And what a feast it was! Other than the roast goose, all of it was vegetarian-friendly: The stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the potato and onion mix, the carrots, the roast chestnut chutney[**], the sweet potato, the onion gravy -- incredible! For those of who could not enjoy the goose, there was even a yummy mock chicken dish as a substitute!

After dinner, we played a few party games like Werewolf and Celebrity[***] before the dessert was brought out: Pumpkin pie and homemade ice cream and cheesecake! My diet may have gotten slightly derailed for a day -- whoops! But, hey, it's Christmas, right?

Day Six: (Wed Dec 26) We stayed over at D&J's after the big Christmas party to spend Boxing Day in our pyjamas with these dear friends. The mellow follow-on to Christmas was part of the plan, with nothing more strenuous in the works than a few rounds of No Thanks! and some Christmas movies, like It's A Wonderful Life and Patrick Stewart's 1999 version of A Christmas Carol.

After an exciting Christmas and a mellow Boxing Day, [ profile] cheshcat and I stayed over in London with D&J for one more night, before heading out for more adventures the following morning. But I believe that we have come to the end of Day Six, gentle readers... so stayed tuned to hear about Nomad's Six More Days of Christmas!

[*] The first one, on December 16th, was a quarter peal of Cambridge Surprise Minor -- my very first quarter of a Surprise method... and a significant milestone in my accomplishments as a ringer!

[**] Try saying that five times fast!

[***] A new game, for me, but one that bears a striking resemblance to an old favourite: Bag of Nouns.

Hellllllo, LJ! (or at least all six people that are left here)

A very happy almost-Yule to you all, my gentle readers! I hope that everyone is having a spectacular holiday season! Huzzah!

In just over an hour, the sun will set in Oxford, starting the longest night of the year. Our coven, Dreaming Spires, will light a candle -- as we always do -- to carry the Light through the longest night and into the new dawn. Tomorrow morning, we will greet the new Sun at Stonehenge, as has been our tradition for several years now -- this will be our fifth Winter Solstice spend amongst the ancient Stones.

I shan't dare to hope that we will see anything nearly as breathtaking as the dawn that greeted us last year. That was my eighth Stonehenge sunrise[*]... and the first where I actually saw the Sun make more than a cameo appearance through the clouds. This is England, after all! The temperature is to remain above freezing, so there's no chance of snow on the Stones, either, like we enjoyed in 2009 and 2010.[**] Still, the chance of precipitation is between zero and 20%... so we are likely to stay dry. Unlike, for instance, at Summer Solstice 2008, where the sky leaked down on us all night.

Of course, some also say that tomorrow will be the end of the world. Well, if the world is going to end, I think that Stonehenge is an excellent place for us to see it off! May just climb the Stones to get a better view for the final farewell. I know you aren't supposed to but, really, who's going to stop me if armageddon is in progress??

The one burning question I have, dear friends, is precisely the same one that I had the last time the world ended, about a year and a half ago:

The world ends tomorrow. Fine. I buy that. Who am I to argue? But... at what time will it end?

No one ever seems to know the precise time of these things. Always the day; never the time. For something so important, you think they would like to be precise! Do I have time for one last cup of tea, or don't I?

If somebody could provide me with a little more precise timing information, I would be much obliged. Otherwise, have a fantastic End-of-the-World tomorrow, everyone, and I shall write more on Saturday...

[*] Summer Solstice in 2007, 2008, and 2009; Spring Equinox in 2011; Winter Solstice in 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011.

[**] 2010 saw us experiencing a snowball fight inside of the Stonehenge circle! Now how spiffy is that?!

My beloved [ profile] cheshcat, my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth, and I returned to Oxford from Nottingham[*] earlier this evening, where we had travelled to commemorate Samhain with our traditional Ancestor Circle. I was rather lucky, having no new people to toast this year; unfortunately, not all others in our circle could say the same.

I have done this particular ritual more than any other, as I first partook of it in 1994, when I was only nineteen. Nearly every Samhain since, [ profile] cheshcat and I have repeated the ritual -- that's nearly half my life now! The long continuity means that I know most of the stories that [ profile] cheshcat will tell, and vice versa; there is a certain comfort in hearing them again, year after year.

We started doing the Ancestor Circle with others in the UK back in 2008; this marks the fifth year that we have held the Circle with our Pagan friends here. This year, we had seven people in our Circle -- besides [ profile] cheshcat and myself, there was one person who had first joined us in 2008, one person who had first joined us in 2009, one person who had first joined us in 2010, one person who had first joined us in 2011, and one new person for 2012. It made me smile seeing each year thusly represented.

For reasons of privacy and confidentiality, I will not repeat any of what happened within the Circle itself. I will note, however, that this ritual marked the close of the 2011 - 2012 Wheel of the Year. Once again, I am pleased to note that [ profile] cheshcat and I were able to celebrate all of the sabbats in this Turn of the Wheel. The Wheel has turned four times since we first committed to making this happen; I am happy to say that we have succeeded in three of those four times; only in the 2009 - 2010 Turning did we slip, when much of our life was thrown into disarray due to the chaotic energy of a particular person who was in our coven during that period. Not only have [ profile] cheshcat and I continued to honour our commitment to WORK all the sabbats, but we have added others along the way. For instance, this Turn was the first time that [ profile] miss_amaranth was present for all sabbats -- so many congratulations to her!

I hope that all had a most blessed Samhain. As the new year begins, there are many new beginnings to look forward to; for instance, [ profile] cheshcat starts her new job tomorrow and she becomes a British citizen next month. I am excited to see what other adventures the new year will bring.

[*] Well, more specifically, Long Eaton.

In the interests of being a better blogger, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad is taking a momentary pause from the holiday festivities to update Ye Olde LiveJournal.

I hope that you are all enjoying the Decemberween festivities, dear friends. Here at Chiron Beta Prime, a delightful three-day visit from the lovely [ profile] weegoddess and J has just come to an end. Whilst they were here, there was much holiday goodness to be had by the five of us[*].

On Tuesday evening, we brought them to see the Mother Goose panto at the Oxford Playhouse. Panto is a very British holiday tradition and, despite having previously lived on this side of the pond for three years, I was delighted to introduce them to their first panto. Needless to say, a good time was had by all!

On Wednesday, as the Sun began to set, we did our Yule ritual at Chiron Beta Prime. Lighting a candle to keep the light going through the longest night, we did our ritual WORK then celebrated by going to the ever-delicious Pink Giraffe for dinner.

There was also much fun to be had, unrelated to the holiday season. A visit to one of our favourite neighbours, the exquisite Coco Noir; a tour of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein sites, including their favourite pub, the houses where they lived, and a trip to their final resting places; dinner at the always awesome Atomic Burger. However, the highlight of the week was very much tied in with the holiday cheer. On Thursday morning, as the longest night drew to a close, we made our way to Stonehenge to celebrate the rebirth of the Sun from within this ancient Stone circle.

Open access to Stonehenge is permitted on the Solstices and the Equinoxes. I have been attending regularly since Summer Solstice 2007. In that time, I have been at Stonehenge for three Summer Solstices, three Winter Solstices, and one March Equinox. Each experience is magnificent, of course... with variations that make it unique. For instance, Winter Solstice 2009 was the first time that I saw snow on the Stones. Winter Solstice 2010 was the first time that I had a snowball fight whilst within the circle. These nuances keep the experience fresh... and this Solstice was no different.

In fact, this time was extra special, as we finally saw the Sun rise. At the seven previous dawns, the sky was overcast and the Sun could not be seen. The eighth time was a winner -- at long last, I have seen the Sun rise, aligned to shine from the SouthEast through one of the Stone arches. Words cannot do this justice; it was truly a spectacular sight to see. Of course, dear friends, with camera in hand, I did my best to capture this uncapturable moment on [digital] film to share with you.

Here is the new Sun, freshly risen above the horizon.

A closer look; with this dawn, the days will begin to get longer once again.

According to the news reports, over one thousand people were present to witness this breathtaking sunrise. This is much more then the tens of thousands who attend at the Summer Solstice, but still a nice crowd.[**] Of course, with so many people present, I was not the only reveler with a camera on hand. You can see many taking pictures in the above photos and journalists were also there. The Daily Mirror has an article on the event here, and the BBC posted some of their own photographs here.

Of particular interest to me is the second photograph in the BBC collection. My first reaction upon seeing it was: "Oh! They took almost exactly the same picture that I did!" In contrast, [ profile] weegoddess's first response was a more astute: "Oh! You and [ profile] miss_amaranth are in the picture!" You can tell which of us is the more observant.

For those who do not wish to cycle through the BBC collection, I have re-posted their image here:

Courtesy of the BBC. Can you find everybody's favourite Nomad in this picture?

Yesterday's trip to Stonehenge was definitely the undisputed high point in a very lovely week. Also, there is much more holiday splendour to come! With [ profile] weegoddess and J moved on to other travels and [ profile] miss_amaranth en route to her parents, my darling [ profile] cheshcat and I are off to London this evening to visit D&J for Christmas Eve... then home late tomorrow night to spend Christmas Day together at Chiron Beta Prime.

Happy Yule and Merry Christmas, gentle readers!

[*] "five of us" = them, me, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat, and the adorable [ profile] miss_amaranth

[**] Actually, one thousand is a much nicer turnout. When there are thirty-six thousand people present, as was the case for Summer Solstice 2009, the site can feel a touch overcrowded.

Good evening, gentle readers!

Your friendly neighbourhood Nomad has been a bad bad blogger of late! Too many lovely goings on and not enough time to write about them. Alas, there are far worse fates!

With only six days left before Christmas, what have y'all been up to, dear friends? Enjoying the holiday season, I hope?

Here in the City of Dreaming Spires, all is quite well. The holiday hecticness is in full swing. On Friday evening, we had a party to celebrate the birthday of my beloved [ profile] cheshcat, starting with a feast at the Pink Giraffe -- one of our favourite Oxford restaurants. Once we were all quite, quite full, the party moved back to Chiron Beta Prime for birthday cookies (replete with firework candle), presents, and games. On Saturday, our coven celebrated the another notch in the Wheel of the Year by doing our Yule ritual WORK. Tis a good start to the season, with much more to follow, of course! The fun continues tomorrow, when the lovely [ profile] weegoddess and J arrive for a visit from the States!

Meanwhile, here is a Christmas card for all of you out there in LJ-land! From our living room into yours (or wherever you may be reading this) -- Enjoy!

(click on picture for full version)

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Nov. 9th, 2011 08:17 pm)
Greetings, gentle readers! Your friendly neigbourhood Nomad has been a bad, bad blogger. Very little about the past month has been written in these pages. Tsk tsk! Thus, the occasional "Week In Review" post has temporarily been upgraded to a "Month In Review". Here are the highlights of the past month... or at least those that I can remember at the moment!

  • P**T***: The Sooper Sekrit October Pagan Festival went very well, as it usually does. This year was particularly poignant, as it is the last time that we will be in buildings that have been our home for over twenty years now (and for all of the fifteen years that I have been attending). Also, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I seem to have found ourselves running P**T*** 2012. Ooops. This time, it will be as part of a team of seven experienced organizers, rather than on our own, that were elected to guide the community through its transition year.

  • US tour: After coming to the States for P**T***, we stayed for nearly two weeks. This gave [ profile] cheshcat and I the opportunity to do lots of nifty things! Whilst in New York City, we went to see a fantastic piece of experimental theatre called Sleep No More, recommended by the lovely [ profile] jeneralist. SNM is loosely based on MacBeth and set in a six story hotel; guests don spectral masks and wander freely through the rooms as the action goes on around them. Later, [ profile] cheshcat and I made the journey back to Chicagoland; I drove and she read Sense and Sensibility to me. She reads rather well, adopting different voices for each character. In this way, we finished almost the entire book. Back at the Event Horizon, we spent some excellent time with the grand [ profile] gyades. We also had a wonderful visit from the wonderful [ profile] tawneypup. Together, the three of us enjoyed breakfasts at the ever-delicious Butterfield's; we explored the Morton Arboretum in all its autumn glory (including a wonderful art exhibit of a glass pumpkin patch!); and we played many games. The Event Horizon Halloween party was also a huge success, as I wrote about in a previous entry.

  • Theatre: Besides the rather spectacular Sleep No More, my darling [ profile] cheshcat and I have been to several shows in the past month. The Oxford Playhouse is on a particularly good role, with a nifty student production of The Picture of Dorian Grey, an excellent new show called Family Business, and the thought-provoking Earthquakes In London. Perhaps best of all, however, was a trip to Milton Keynes last week, where we saw Slava's Snowshow. What an absolute delight! Pure, unadulterated joy! Seriously!! If anyone gets the chance to see this, please treat yourself! The entire show is amazing... but the ending alone makes it worth going!

  • Samhain: This year, my Samhain was nice... but not terribly intense. I cannot pretend to be surprised -- it seems normal that when one Samhain is very highly charged, the following year is much more mellow. For instance, Samhain 2006 was extremely intense... and 2007 barely felt like Samhain. Similarly, Samhain 2010 was very powerful, with many rituals to cut cords and burn away baggage... culminating in my first salt circle. In contrast, this year Samhain was relatively quiet. Our coven of five performed our traditional ancestor rituals of the feast and the toast, thus completing another Wheel of the Year. I am very pleased to say that, once again, we managed to WORK all the sabbats during the cycle that just ended. I am even more pleased to say that the year which has now passed was a very good year in many ways -- [ profile] cheshcat and I received our indefinite leave to remain in the UK, no relationships ended and the existing ones grew stronger, I travelled to a couple of new countries and explored more of Great Britain. Definitely a much better year than the one that came before, which was rife with drama, tension, and strife.

    Probably the most important part of this Samhain was a ritual that I ran for somebody else. I was pleased to serve as HP for doing such vital work.

  • Work: Lots going on right now. Fiducial volume optimization with one of my graduate students; particle interaction studies on neutrino-induced charged current positive single pion interactions; professional seminars and outreach talks; you name it!

  • Misc: After being on a de facto hiatus from bell ringing over the Summer, due to travel, I am back to regular ringing at least once per week. That is very good for me. Gaming sessions have also happened a couple of times since my return to the City of Dreaming Spires. Oh, and I met Eric Drexler at a Halloween party last week; we spent some time chatting about supernova and neutrinos as well as projects that fall in the gap between physics and engineering. He is giving a lecture on nanotechnology tomorrow afternoon, which I am very much looking forward to attending.

On that note, gentle readers, I must end this entry. For I am writing from Ye Olde Oxford Tube once again... and we are very nearly home! Have a lovely evening, dear friends!

Happy September Equinox, dear friends![*]

As I post this, the Sun should be passing over the subsolar point on the equator, and the [imaginary] line connecting the center of Earth and Sun will be perpendicular to the Earth's [less imaginary] axis of rotation! Huzzah for Mabon! Pretty soon, the days and nights will be equal length -- at least for those of us up here in the North![**]

Meanwhile, we have just completed our day of physics here in Tokai. A day in which my former thesis adviser and our current International Co-Spokesperson[***] narrowly declined to bet his wife and kids against neutrinos travelling faster than light. It is worth nothing that, except for a small string of about five e-mails, no one mentioned this potentially enormous discovery at an experiment very similar to our own. Yeah, I don't believe it, either.

Completely unrelated, I mentioned in my previous post that Day One of this trip to Japan contained both a typhoon and an earthquake. The quake turned out to be a magnitude 5.2, just slightly weaker than the 5.8 that hit Virginia last month. I think that it felt stronger to me because, as this map shows, we were sitting practically on top of the epicenter.

After getting off to that exciting start, here is a summary of how the rest of my trip is shaping up thus far:

Day One: Welcome to Japan. Typhoon, then earthquake.
Day Two: Boring day: No typhoon, no earthquake.
Day Three: Less quiet: No typhoon, but another earthquake.

We had a M5.0 about an hour or so ago, during the last session of the afternoon. The speaker paused for a moment and sat down. Then, before the shaking had fully subsided, the discussion resumed. Methinks we are getting acclimated. For my part, I simply turned to the person next to me and calmly asked: "What do you think? 5.1?" Turns out, I was not far off.

Also, it seems that my "Keeper for a Day" pictures were a bit of a success. With adorable animals like that, I am not surprised! There were some requests for more pictures from the outing, so here are a couple of extras -- enjoy!!

  1. Feeding a capybara. These "little" guys are the largest species of rodents living in the world today. Cute, too... and fun to pet!

  2. A boy and his tenrec. These awesome animals are a bundle of contradictions -- spiny, yet soft; able to go very flat, or roll into a ball! Getting some cuddle time with one was an excellent experience... as you can likely tell from the smile on my [poorly lit] face!

  3. Finally (for now), the lemur pictures were so popular that I had to throw in one more. Here you go, gentle readers: A lemur and I share a quiet bonding moment. (At least until the food was gone.)

Tis all for now, my friends! Until we meet again, have yourselves a merry little equinox!

[*] To avoid North/South confusion, I have adopted the convention of referring to September and March equinoxes, rather than Autumnal and Vernal ones.

[**] Not so much "huzzah" on this one, as I greatly prefer Summer to Winter. Perhaps a return to Argentina is in order?

[***] Who happen to be the same person.

anarchist_nomad: (England sightseeing -- Mind the monument)
( Jun. 22nd, 2011 12:43 pm)
For those of us in the North, yesterday was the Summer Solstice -- the longest day. As one who thrives on sunlight, this is a wonderful time of year to be living in England, with long lingering twilights that give us skies which never go quite dark. Astronomical twilight begins after 23:30 and lasts for only about three hours -- the rest of the time is nautical twilight or brighter!

In recent years, I have been celebrating Summer Solstice at Stonehenge, taking part in the overnight open access to the Stones. This year, having spent both the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox at Stonehenge, we decided to do something different. Thus, we held our Solstice revels at an ancient Stone circle that is a bit closer to home -- the Rollright Stones, here in Oxfordshire.

The Rollrights are a rather picturesque arrangement of Stones, in three parts. The so-called "King's Men" comprise the main circle of Stones and remind me a bit of the Castlerigg Stones in the Lake District. As we were there for ritual WORK, not as tourists, I did not bring the camera this time. I shall return to take pictures -- particularly since they are so close to home -- but, in the meantime, you can see some photographs here.

Originally, we had planned to hold Summer Solstice at the Rollrights last year. However, just before, PE2 broke our car and we were unable to travel anywhere. Our plans, thus deferred, materialized this year with a potentially interesting impact on the ritual. )

Although quiet and secluded, other groups wandered amongst the Stones during our time there. Some were simply tourists, whilst at least two other groups also appeared to be doing some sort of ritual WORK. The site is quite lovely, with breathtaking views of the countryside from the King's Men Circle. I definitely plan to return -- both for future ritual WORK... and also as a proper tourist with camera in hand!
I've but one weekend in Oxford between the recent trip to Europe and the upcoming week to Asia. That weekend is rapidly drawing to a close now. It has been mellow, but fun!

On Friday evening, things got started when I came home from work to spend a spiffy night with my beloved [ profile] cheshcat, the exquisite [ profile] miss_amaranth, the lovely [ profile] fire_kitten, and the devious [ profile] ayaron at Chiron Beta Prime. We ordered pizza and played games; I taught Puerto Rico to [ profile] fire_kitten and [ profile] ayaron and managed to squeek out a slim win during a close game.

On Saturday morning, we made our way just outside of town to pay our annual visit to the bluebell meadow at the Harcourt Arboretum. Thanks to the hottest April on record, the bluebells were a bit past their prime, but they still made for a pretty stroll.

Here is my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth and I in a lovely Beltane photo at the arboretum:

And here is a peacock, just because:

On Saturday evening, our Beltane ritual took place, marking the halfway point in the wheel of the year. In 2008-2009, [ profile] cheshcat and I worked ritual with more-or-less the same group at every sabbat. It worked really well and coalesced into an experience that was greater than the sum of its individual rituals -- most of which were pretty spectacular by themselves! I missed doing that last year, so we have returned to the practice for the 2010-2011 turn of the Wheel of the Year. Once again, it is proving to be rather powerful WORK.

Finally, we wound down Saturday with a very interesting kink discussion. Details of which are not suitable to be repeated in this forum.

Sunday morning -- today -- I had an excellent lie-in with my dearest [ profile] miss_amaranth. The early afternoon was dedicated to practicalities, like setting up logistics for my upcoming trip to Japan (work) and Korea (play). In the evening, I rang bells at St. Giles for a quarter peal attempt -- the method was Grandsire Triples and I rang the treble. Ringing was followed up by a stint at the Barton Pool with [ profile] miss_amaranth, where I did my usual mile of crawl. We then headed to the cinema, where we met [ profile] cheshcat and [ profile] ayaron for the 21:00 showing of Thor. Visually stunning, I expected better of a collaboration between JMS and Kenneth Branagh. Still, there were amusing moments.

All of which brings us to the present moment. When I finish this write-up, I will phone the sweet [ profile] livetbd for a spell... then make my way off to bed! Less than one week remaining in Oxford before I jet off again, and much to do in that time!

So, as you can see, gentle readers, it has been a quiet weekend but a good one, nonetheless. I hope, dear friends, that you have also had a pleasant time... and that you have a lovely night!
Happy Beltane, Everybody! Hooray for Beltane and warm Spring weather!!!
Good Friday to you, gentle readers! As you may (or may not) have noticed, the Nomad has not been the most conscientious blogger of late. To that, I say: Um... whoops! In an attempt to get the LJ ball re-rolling again, I bring to you that time honoured and ever-reviled much anticipated of entries: The Week-in-Review post! So sit tight, dear friends, and fasten your seatbelts! The week is about to begin!

Friday: Last Friday, I spent the day with a visiting [ profile] josington. Although I stayed home from work, it was still a workday and, thus, we passed the time by installing Ubuntu and other useful software onto my new laptop. In the evening, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I went to visit the supertastic [ profile] wolfpeach, who gave us lessons on how to make our own [vegetarian] sushi. Much yummy food was made and consumed; there was also a game of Settlers of Catan, in which I eked out a very difficult win. On our way home from [ profile] wolfpeach's place, we picked up the adorable [ profile] miss_amaranth from The Island. Once home, all four of us -- [ profile] cheshcat, [ profile] miss_amaranth, [ profile] josington and I -- stayed up late with much talking and cuddling.

Saturday: Woke up early and made my way into city centre with [ profile] josington to attend OxCon, the annual gaming convention hosted by the Oxford University Board Game Society. These days, I mainly attend for the Puerto Rico tournament. This consists of four games of PR, with tournament points calculated based on the scores of individual games. I have been participating since 2007, making this my fourth year[*]. By the end of the third game, I was ranked amongst the highest four players, thus earning myself a seat at the top table for the final game. Alas, I came in third (of four) there and so I did not win the tournament. Maybe next year.

In the evening, the lovely [ profile] fire_kitten rounded out our numbers to five. We made our way to the delicious -- and vegetarian -- pub, The Gardener's Arms for dinner, then came home to play games. We started with Apples to Apples, in which the delightful [ profile] miss_amaranth achieved victory, then finished up with Bohnanza, where my darling [ profile] cheshcat took the cake. Or at least the beans.

Sunday: Sunday began with [ profile] josington and I making our way to St. Andrew's church to ring bells for services. After that, she made her way to a Quaker meeting whilst the four of us who were left headed out to the church-turned-restaurant, Freud, for brunch.

In the afternoon, we all reconvened in Chiron Beta Prime and prepared for our Imbolc ritual. This was the third ritual that we have WORKed together in the current turn of the Wheel of the Year. Just as we did two years ago, [ profile] cheshcat and I have committed to observing all eight sabbats during this turn. In October, my dearest [ profile] cheshcat ran our traditional Samhain ritual; in December, I stepped up to the proverbial plate and ran Yule; now [ profile] cheshcat re-took the reins to be HP for Imbolc. The ritual itself was rather interesting, involving elements that I had not worked with previously. I cannot give much detail in a public forum, but my sweetie put together another job very well done!

After ritual, [ profile] fire_kitten needed to go. [ profile] josington and I headed out at the same time to ring bells for evening services at St. Giles church, in city centre. Shortly after we returned home, [ profile] wolfpeach arrived. Together, the five of us played Puerto Rico. Because I had not played it enough the day before, of course! Actually, I rarely get tired of PR... and a five player game has a very different dynamic than the four player rounds that I was engaged in the year before. Due to this, I started out way behind as [ profile] cheshcat took a commanding lead early on. She was so far ahead of everyone else that I bet her a pizza she would win. As the game went on, however, some early investments in infrastructure began to pay off and I caught up, winning by eleven points. [ profile] cheshcat still passed everyone else by a wide margin, but I claimed victory... and she claimed a pizza!

When the wonderful [ profile] wolfpeach left, the four of us remaining wound down for the evening with an episode of Jeeves & Wooster.

Monday: Monday morning started, as Monday mornings so often do, with the weekly T2K UK analysis meeting. One of my students was giving a presentation, so I paid particularly careful attention to her talk. It went rather well, I am pleased to report!

After work wrapped up on Monday, [ profile] josington and the delicious [ profile] miss_amaranth and I met my sweet [ profile] cheshcat at The Mission for burritos. Then the evening's extra-curricular activities began.

This week, the theme seems to be a double-dose of evening activities. For instance, on Monday evening, [ profile] josington and I rang bells at St. Leonard's church in Eynsham -- a new tower for both of us! This makes the eighteenth tower that I have rung at. The Eynsham bells are a little tricky, though nowhere near as frightful as what [ profile] josington has dubbed "The Devil Bells of Garsington". Actually, the #4 at Eynsham was rather nice... and the #2 was not bad, either! The band was moderately experienced, so nothing more than Plain Bob and Grandsire Doubles was attempted.

When ringing ended, we collected [ profile] miss_amaranth from the Island and went to the aforementioned Oxford Go Club. I played on a 13x13 board with the same gent who I had squared off against the week before. It was close... but he did defeat me, 23 to 11. Meanwhile, the lovable [ profile] miss_amaranth had been learning to play. She and I had a 9x9 game and she did very well for her first match!

The evening ended with us gathering up [ profile] cheshcat and going for bagels and ice cream at G&D's... then [ profile] miss_amaranth had some lovely alone time for talking and snuggling and whatnot!

Tuesday: During the day, Tuesday was filled with errands. My dearest darlingest [ profile] cheshcat and I had our semi-annual dentist appointment, which I am pleased to report went rather well. Then I made a blood donation before bidding [ profile] miss_amaranth and [ profile] josington farewell.

In the evening, my first extra-curricular activity was bell ringing at St. Andrew's church, here in Headington. That was followed with heading into city centre to meet [ profile] cheshcat at the Burton Taylor studio for a performance of Edward Albee's first play (from 1958), The Zoo Story. I have seen this before, but not for many years. Indeed, [ profile] yavin7 and I starred in a production of The Zoo Story that I had directed for my acting class at Hampshire College, way back in 1992! It was interesting to re-visit the play with adult eyes. Whilst I still enjoyed it, it was not as compelling as it had been all those years ago.

Wednesday: I began Wednesday -- Groundhog Day -- in a time loop... as some of you may have noticed. Then I made my way into London to spend the day working with RT and others at Queen Mary University of London. Upon my return to Oxford, my first evening activity was to ring bells at St. Mary the Virgin in Iffley. I followed that on with a T2K-SK meeting at 22:00. When the meeting ended, my wonderful [ profile] cheshcat and I enjoyed a lovely stir-fry that she had cooked in her new wok, then I wound down for the evening.

Thursday: Yesterday began by continuing the string of meetings that had begun the night before. The first was our weekly Imperial T2K group meeting, which I chaired. Then I had a brief one-on-one with one of my doctoral students, GK, before the collaboration-wide T2K analysis meeting began. We are very close to approving our first results, so the meetings are coming at us fast and strong!

In the evening, I scaled back to only one extra-curricular activity. In honour of a visitor from Sweden, I opted to forego ringing at St. Giles, playing with the Oxford Go Club, and attending the Oxford Pagan moot. Instead, we convened at Skullcrusher Mountain for an evening of transhumanist gaming. We started with Betrayal at House on the Hill, in which AS commanded a hoard of bats determined to suck us dry. Thankfully, we scared them off and won! Particular kudos go to H, our visitor, for role-playing the Professor so remarkably well!

After Betrayal, the kid gloves came off and we played Illuminati. This was a rather long game, and extremely hard fought. I played the Bavarians and, after many hours and a couple of close calls, finally managed to squeeze through to victory!

Hmmm... If one considers each game separately, I suppose that Thursday can be counted as having two extracurriculars, too! Each game certainly took longer than the other activities this week!

Friday (again): Today has been mostly spent on working. And writing this entry. This evening, I will meet my phenomenal [ profile] cheshcat at the Oxford Playhouse to see our third show of the year, Master Class, a piece based on the life of the opera singer Maria Callas.

And that, gentle readers, is the week that was. Still with me? If so, congratulations for sticking it out through the dreaded WiR post! Consider yourself awarded fifty points for sheer perseverance -- well done!

[*] I was unable to attend in 2009, as I needed to be in Japan for a T2K collaboration meeting.

We close our eyes and the world has turned around again
We close our eyes and dream and another year has come and gone...

Blessed Samhain. Happy New Year. The world has turned around again.

Tonight, I welcomed in the start of a new turn in the Wheel of the Year. I began the year alone inside of a salt circle, bridging the two years with a ritual that began in one and ended in another. It seemed most appropriate, to finish the endings and then prepare myself for new beginnings in a single piece of WORK.

I have never done a salt circle before; never felt that I needed one until now. This year, however, the time was right. I believe that this circle was the correct way to cap a five-ritual Samhain that has been chock full of cleansing, purification, and letting go.

Time for sleep. Rest well, gentle readers. I shall write more about the weekend -- both the fun and the WORK -- tomorrow. The next adventure begins now...

anarchist_nomad: (The cape as red as blood)
( Oct. 25th, 2010 11:29 pm)
This year, my focus on Samhain has been largely one of wrapping up the Wheel of the Year that is ending and preparing for new beginnings. As mentioned previously, it has been a challenging year. I lost somebody very precious to me to mental illness; my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I were given stewardship of a community during what turned out to be a time of severe crisis. You get the idea, gentle readers: Many serious responsibilities.

Some of these situations turned out better than others. For instance, although it took much effort, I do believe that [ profile] cheshcat and I were able to captain the ship of our community through the storm. Our efforts prevented what had threatened to be a major fracture, a serious schism. Was everybody happy? No, of course not. As one dear friend[*] commented to me: "Welcome to being a Pagan Elder. You get to do work, and people will yell at you." True that! Still, we did good WORK and our efforts had a positive transformative result.

Successful or no, all of these responsibilities were rather costly in terms of time and energy. With this turn of the Wheel winding down, my own personal work has been on tying up the loose ends so that I can move forward with fresh new beginnings. Already, there are projects and goals for the next turn that I am eagerly waiting to launch myself into.

As such, this Samhain has been centered on the positive aspects of endings. I believe that this is a Good ThingTM. However, as the Universe seems to insist on reminding me, Samhain is also a time for traumatic endings and Death. At the start of this month, I learned that an old friend had passed away. He had been the wife of my first Secondary, back when [ profile] cheshcat and I had started being polyamorous back in 1997. As so often happens, we lost contact about ten years ago. No reason for it -- time and distance just caused us to drift apart. Thus, I was rather startled to hear of his passing, especially since he must have only been in his forties! Unfortunately, he is not the only loss. Last week, I received news that one of the longstanding members of my Pagan community had finally passed on, after long battles with illness. Whilst I was not entirely surprised, this awful news weighed heavily on my heart. Just a few days ago, I learned that somebody that I knew long ago -- a friend of The Kiddo when we were growing up -- had died. I remember when he was a mere child and, indeed, he must have been only thirty or so! Again, far too young. Then, tonight, I received word that the partner of somebody who is like a brother to me had tried to commit suicide.

Thus, I say to the Universe: I get it. Samhain is a time for endings... and not all endings are good. Can you please knock it off now? I am still very much focused on my Samhain goal of closing out the year of challenges that is now ending and beginning a new year of projects in its place. Can we agree, Universe, that there has been enough Death and trauma for one Samhain? Can we move on without losing anybody else in the spirit of the season? Thank you!

Condolences to all who could use them. No matter what my personal goals are for this Samhain, methinks that the Ancestor Ritual is going to involve some particularly heavy WORK this weekend...

[*] Who is only not getting credit by name because I'm not sure I have permission. If said person wants to speak up, you are more than welcome to do so!

Blessed Solstice, gentle readers, from your local[*] Atheo-Pagan![**]

The light is now at its peak, as we move into a different phase of the year. A good time to sweep away the old messes and move on to bright new beginnings.

To that end, I have been doing a bit of housecleaning today. Besides the spiritual relevance, with all our recent travels the Flat With No Name really needed it! Just now, as I was enjoying the cool Summer evening air whilst I carted some rubbish out to the bin, I noticed that the house across the street has a large shark protruding from the roof!

Of course, this is not news. The Headington Shark, which lives across the street from me, is well known and has been for decades. Still, as is often the case, something familiar can fade into the background, until you don't see it anymore. Although it took a fair bit of time, for something as unusual as a roof shark, eventually this did happen.

Thus, when I noticed the shark once again tonight, I was seeing it was fresh eyes and appreciating it for the smile-inducing oddity that it is. That smile grew in the cool evening air and reminded me that -- here in Oxford, living next to a shark -- I have a most excellent life. I have a fantastic job, I have an utterly amazing life-partner, I have several other lovely partners on both sides of the pond, I am blessed with many awesometacular friends[***], I share my life with four adorable cats. The list goes on and on... This knowledge is also susceptible to fading into the background at times, or being overshadowed, so it was very good to actively remember it.

Happy Solstice, my dear friends. May it bring many wonderful new beginnings...

[*] Or not so local!

[**] That's me! (Just in case it wasn't obvious)

[***] That's you! (Just in case it wasn't obvious)

anarchist_nomad: (At the Haymarket)
( May. 1st, 2010 11:34 pm)
Today is the first of May, an important day for me in two very different ways!

For my Pagan side, tis all about Beltane -- celebrating Spring and rebirth and lust and sex and all those other wonderful things!

For my Anarchist side, tis Mayday, commemorating the noble Haymarket Anarchists who were put to death by the State of Illinois for demonstrating in favour of the eight hour workday.[*]

Traditionally, I have often been split on how to celebrate. In 2002, I remember being assaulted by the Tempe police in Arizona; indeed, I still have their on video at the Event Horizon! In 2004 and 2005, I celebrated in various ways, including with the IWW's annual picnic at the Martyr's Monument near Chicago. In 2006, I spent the long weekend at an Anarchist conference in London, culminating in a Mayday march. Whereas in 2007, 2008, and 2009 I mainly focused on the more Paganesque celebrations reflected in the Oxford May Morning.

Of course, this year my choice is simply: (c) None of the above, as I am holed up in the quiet little village up Mozumi, high in the Japanese Alps. Still, Spring is definitely here -- as can be evidenced by the weather and the green everywhere. Don't believe me? Take a look at this picture that I shot on Friday and see for yourself!

[*] That's right! Any of you like working only eight hours per day? You have Anarchists to thank for it!

We interrupt this LJ entry[**] to bring you an important announcement that is only relevant for Oxonians. If you do not live in Oxford, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

Hear ye, here ye, fellow Oxfordians! I bring you tidings of great opportunity! On this Wednesday -- March 24th -- my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I shall be seeing the Oxford Theatre Guild perform a version of Sophocles's classic tale, Antigone. This particular version is a modern adaptation, written by Jean Anouilh and first performed in Nazi occupied Paris. We have excellent seats and, as chance would have it, we have one extra ticket. Free Wednesday evening? Fancy coming along? Just let me know and that ticket is yours!

As promised yesterday, here is the Official What I Did At The Weekend Post. Because all the cool kids are doing them... and I am always the first to conform![***]

Friday evening, my darling [ profile] bunnypip drove down to join [ profile] cheshcat and I for a production of Graham Greene's The Ministry of Fear at the Oxford Playhouse. The show itself was quite good... though [ profile] bunnypip and I spent the first act trying to make sense of the plot. [ profile] cheshcat was unfazed, explaining that it was film noir and would all become clear later. Which, to her credit, it did. Still, at one point in the first act, the main character confusedly exclaims: "I don't understand what's happening? I leaned in to [ profile] bunnypip and murmured: "He's not the only one."

After the show ended, we made our way to Cowley to get food at the new Atomic Burger joint. This is our third visit in three weeks -- I think we may have a new addition to our list of favourite places to eat in Oxford! Huuzah!

Saturday morning, [ profile] bunnypip and I enjoyed a nice lie-in. When we finally began moving, all three of us made our way into town again, as the Oxford Literary Festival was beginning. I swung by Christ Church to pick up our tickets, then met my two sweeties at Corpus Christi for a lecture on Shakespeare, Sex, and Love by the highly accomplished Professor Stanley Wells, CBE. The lecture itself was rather impressive, though his ability to answer questions afterward was less so. Case in point: I asked how one differentiates sexual subtext that Shakespeare deliberately wrote into his plays from subtext added after the fact by people interpreting his work. The answer? "It's difficult. You have to do research." Um, thanks for that elucidating response!

Saturday evening, my dear [ profile] bunnypip and I made our way into London to attend this year's "God Is" Easter party. The theme was 80s music... so she dressed as Fade to Grey and I put on some red, white, and blue -- plus a star-shaped belt buckle -- to go as Born In The U.S.A. I also get automatic credit for being Walk Like an Egyptian... because I always do! It was good to see people, though the party itself was..... underwhelming. This was my second "God Is" party -- the first being two years ago -- and I remember that one as having more excitement and more going on. Ah, well. They can't all be spectacular. We left left around half one and returned to the Flat With No Name just before four... as a "can you give me a lift, it's on your way" request morphed into an hour's detour. Ooops!

Sunday, our coven celebrated Oestara with a ritual written by Darelle. I was quite proud of her, as this was only the second ritual that she has written... and the first for a group of more than two! It was well done, containing a narrative, a guided meditation, and some tarot work. So hooray for her on this significant spiritual milestone!

So that was the weekend that was. Time to go splat now, as tomorrow is shaping up to be a rather busy day. Somehow, my [infamous] to-do list has crept back up to 125 items[****]... with thirty of them for tomorrow! I'll need a full night of sleep -- and maybe a can of spinach -- to tackle all of that successfully!

[*] Or Wednesday.

[**] Before it has even begun! (Impressive, huh?)

[***] Or something.

[****] Not quite breaking the record of 141... but coming frighteningly close! Eeeep!

Happy Solstice, gentle readers! I write this entry taking a break from packing -- in the early morning, I fly back to the States for Christmas and New Years. First, though, I spent yesterday and today celebrating Yule, the shortest day, and the return of the light!

Yule marked the tenth consecutive sabbat celebrated by the fledgling Oxford-based group that [ profile] cheshcat and I founded last year. Chesh wrote the ritual which, as always, was excellent. This time, the theme was a guided meditation, with some tarot work as well. After the formal ritual ended, the five of us present kept vigil -- more or less[*] -- through the longest night.

At five o'clock in the morning, with the dawn just a few short hours away, we gathered in Peter II and I drove us all down to Stonehenge, with silly Christmas songs keeping us company en route. We arrived before they opened the site, so we were able to be present for the entirety of this open access period. This marks the fifth Solstice that I have spent at Stonehenge -- three Summers and two Winters. It also marks the fourth consecutive Solstice that I have been present at Stonehenge.

It really is amazing how different the two Solstice experiences are! At Midsummer, Stonehenge access starts before sunset and lasts through the whole of the shortest night. At the Winter Solstice, access to the Stones last less than two hours, starting about an hour before sunrise and going until a little after. Also, the attendance and energy is far different. Six months ago, there were 36,000 people there in what felt like an all-night rave. This morning, the official count was 689... and the tone was much more reverent. My darling [ profile] bunnypip was quite clear about which of the two she prefers. Indeed, I may be the only person I have WORKed with who actually enjoys both Midsummer and Yule at Stonehenge.

One thing different for me this time is that there was snow on the ground... and on the Stones! I had never seen or touched the Stones like this before -- the glimmering snow was a beautiful addition! Besides the usual Druidic rituals, there was also drumming and dancing... plus an impromtu snowball fight! Now that was a fun way to celebrate the start of winter! I was in a snowball fight at the centre of Stonehenge! How cool is that?? I was bouncy about this for several hours afterward... and the energy probably helped me survive the drive home on nearly no sleep!

Here are a few pictures from this morning's revelry:

Approaching the circle, about an hour before dawn.

SNOW! On the Stones!!

Inside the Stone circle, shortly before dawn.

Looking from the outside, about half an hour after sunrise.

This little trip was loads of fun, and a fantastic way to start the Winter! Now, though, it is time to return to packing. Less than six hours before I take to the skies! Look out, my dear Stateside friends, the Nomad's coming home!![**]

[*] By which I mean that I do not think any one person stayed conscious for the entire night this year... but at least one person was awake at any given time.

[**] Speaking of which, if anyone in the Chicago area is free tomorrow afternoon, around three o'clock, would it be possible to get a ride from O'Hare to the Event Horizon? With all the frantic holiday craze going around, I may have forgotten to arrange transport! Reply to this comment, send me an e-mail, or call me tomorrow at half past two if you can give me a lift. It will earn my eternal gratitude -- and maybe more!

anarchist_nomad: (Guess who?)
( Nov. 4th, 2009 11:38 pm)
Welcome to the first ever FiR post in this journal. "What is FIR?" you may be fairly asking yourselves, dear friends. Good question! Long time readers of this journal may be aware of my recurring use of Week-in-Review (WiR) posts. As these went on, they evolved into the RotWiR post[*] and, later, into RotRotWiRP[**]. Now, however, due to nearly unprecedented levels of falling behind on my blogging, Nomad Production Studios brings you...... the Fortnight in Review post!

At this point, please feel free to run about like Kermit the Frog, waving your arms wildly and shouting "YAAAAAAAAY!"

Really, the FiR post is quite self-explanatory, I think. Having been back in Merry Olde England for half a month now, it really is high time that I say at least a little of what I have been up to since my return. It will likely not be interesting to anyone who is not named Nomad... but at least I will have made a record to refer to in posterity. Or something like that. Feel free to skip to tomorrow's [as yet unwritten] entry if you are bored. I won't hold it against you -- I promise!

So, without further ado, here goes:

Tue Oct 20: Return to the States via Madrid, finding work related texts starting almost immediately after I landed. Meet [ profile] cheshcat, who had returned from the States via Dublin. Our reconnection at Heathrow went unbelievable smoothly -- this sort of thing doesn't happen in international travel! Return to Oxford in mid-afternoon and spend time unpacking and settling in. In the evening, ring bells at St. Andrew's Church in Headington. Close to midnight, [ profile] bunnypip arrives and we spend some quality time alone together.

Wed Oct 21: Do productive stuff [that is not at all interesting to write about in detail] during the day. Attend the monthly Oxford Bi Meetup in the evening. Spend a lot of time talking to somebody that I find increasingly interesting.

Thu Oct 22: Imperial College T2K group meeting in the morning. Assorted productivity in the afternoon. Ringing practice -- on both handbells and tower bells -- at St. Giles Church in the evening. An international T2K SK video conference at night.

Fri Oct 23: Various productive tasks during the day. In the evening, [ profile] cheshcat and I went to see The Madness of King George III at the Oxford Playhouse, my 32nd play of the year. [ profile] bunnypip arrived at the Flat With No Name whilst we were out, so she was studying and waiting for us when we returned! This is a Good ThingTM

Sat Oct 24: Our annual ancestor feast and toast for Samhain. Intense, as usual. I have written somewhat about this elsewhere. The ritual proper ran for about seven hours, from roughly 9pm BST until nearly 3am GMT.

Sun Oct 25: Sleep in to recover from the late night. Have a lazy morning with certain spiffy people. In the evening, the adorable [ profile] weegoddess and her lovely husband, J, came to visit us as the last stop on their Leaving The UK tour. It was very good to see her again... and particularly enjoyable to meet him for the first time. We started their time in Oxford off by taking them to the Pink Giraffe for a delicious All You Can Eat RPG dinner!

Mon Oct 26: Spent the morning wearing my tour guide hat, bringing [ profile] weegoddess and J on a one day whirlwind tour of Oxford. I do so love sharing the awesomeness that is my [adopted] city! I only wish that they had had more time to spend here, to properly appreciate it all. Still, they did seem to enjoy what we had time to take in! In the evening, we were joined by [ profile] cheshcat for dinner at the French restaurant on North Parade. Yum!

Tue Oct 27: A very bizarre morning where nothing went as planned... thanks to an area power outage in the night that lasted until the afternoon. Thankfully, the crisis was manageable and the things that absolutely needed to happen were made to happen. All's well that ends well. In the evening, [ profile] cheshcat and I celebrated our 5555 day anniversary by going out for dinner then seeing the RSC's Days of Significance at the Oxford Playhouse -- my 33rd play of the year. Alas, the show was somewhat disappointing. Later in the evening, we also celebrated our eight million minute anniversary.[***]

Wed Oct 28: Had a productive day at work in London at Imperial College, including an interesting talk on recent measurements of the mass of the W boson at the D0 experiment in Fermilab. Returned to Oxford in the evening to have a pre-birthday dinner for [ profile] dr_jen with [ profile] wolfpeach and [ profile] cheshcat.

Thu Oct 29: Brought [ profile] cheshcat in for her surgery in the morning. Rang both handbells and tower bells at St. Giles Church in the evening, before visiting my beloved [ profile] cheshcat in the hospital post-surgery.

Fri Oct 30: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning. Did stuff during the day. Returned in the evening with [ profile] bunnypip and L2.

Sat Oct 31: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning. Brought L2 to a haunted farm for Halloween in the afternoon. Returned to the hospital in the evening to play Fluxx and Bohnanza with [ profile] cheshcat (and [ profile] bunnypip and L2).

Sun Nov 01: Visited [ profile] cheshcat in the morning -- getting to see her stand, post-surgery, for the first time. Spent time with L2 and my darling [ profile] bunnypip during the day. Rang bells for Sunday services at St. Giles in the evening before returning to spend more time in the hospital with [ profile] cheshcat.

Mon Nov 02: Missed my morning visit to the hospital, due to a T2K phone meeting. After working at Oxford Uni with one of my students during the day, I returned to the hospital to spend evening time with [ profile] cheshcat. Before bed, I had my first conversation with my darling [ profile] tawneypup since my return to England. As ever, it was very good to hear her lovely voice!

Tue Nov 03: Work at Oxford Uni, a seminar by one of my Imperial colleagues, a surprise win at chess, two more hospital visits (joined by [ profile] uberredfraggle and [ profile] bunnypip), and an evening of alone time with [ profile] bunnypip. Written about in more detail here.

That brings us to the end of this historic FiR report! History has been made and you, gentle readers, were a part of it. Remember this moment fondly in years to come...

[*] "RotWiR" = "Return of the Week in Review"

[**] Whilst the eloquent [ profile] dcseain has observed that this sounds an awful lot like a birdcall, "RotRotWiRP" is actually the "Return of the Return of the Week in Review Post".

[***] Yes, I am aware than "anniversary" comes from "annum" and literally can only refer to years. For the moment, though, I do not have a better word for "dayiversaries" (let alone minuteversaries!).



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