Gentle readers,

Ten days ago, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad hit the big FOUR-OH. Wowza -- how did that happen? Seems like only yesterday that I was celebrating my 30th birthday at the Event Horizon!

I firmly believe that if one is going to grow older, one should do it in style. Ten years ago, I resolved to throw the biggest Event Horizon party to date... and I succeeded.[*] For forty, I raised the stakes and decided to make it my absolute bestest birthday ever!

So what does that mean? What are the ingredients for a spectacular birthday?

Well, first is location. I love Oxford, but celebrating at home wasn't going to do. I wanted somewhere that would be warm and sunny in mid-March. No point in partying somewhere cold... and, besides, I wanted to go scuba diving! My first thought was the Mediterranean, possibly Corsica or Sardinia. Maybe Sicily. Then I checked: Average highs of 50F? That won't work!

Further South, then, which brings us to the Canary Islands. Yeah, that could work. Average highs in the mid-70s? Now that's more like it!

A plan began to take form: Rent a large villa in Lanzarote and invite everyone I know to join us there for a week. Although not the largest of the Canary Islands, the volcanic landscape and the César Manrique architecture was highly appealing. What's more, the entire island has been designated as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve.

In the end, I didn't end up inviting everybody I knew. We topped out at sixteen people, filling two private holiday villas. That seemed like a wise place to stop; coordinating an international week-long trip with sixteen people from two continents was one heck of a lot of work! Lots of logistics to arrange, including accommodation, transportation, and activities.

Lots of work... but it was totally worth it!

So what did we do in our week on the "Island of Fire" (as Lanzarote is known)? Well, we rode camels over the volcanic landscape:

(click on picture for full version)

and we ate food cooked with geo-thermal heat:

(click on picture for full version)

The picture above was taken at the El Diablo restaurant in Timanfaya National Park. The grill is set over a hole in the ground. That's all. No fire below; the heat of the volcano cooks your food for you!

(Also acts as a nifty underfloor heater, too!)

What else? Well, I got my scuba dives -- two off the coast of Playa Blanca (one day dive and one night dive) and another from Puerto del Carmen. We spent time on the beach at Arrecife, the capital of the island. We also took a bus tour around Timanfaya National Park. On another day, some of us went horseback riding (not me), whilst others took a bicycle tour (me!).

On one afternoon, we chartered a private pleasure cruise for five hours; on a different afternoon, we visited a few of César Manrique's architectural masterpieces. My beloved [ profile] cheshcat lined us up an excellent sampling of his work, including his Volcano House, his Cactus Garden, and the lookout point Mirador del Rio.

Some of us also made time for hiking. I went on three hikes, around the Montaña Caldereta, along the Timanfaya Coastal Route, and a sunset hike on my birthday itself, climbing the red mountain Montaña Roja, which was just behind our villas.

Here is a shot of yours truly atop the Caldereta (a volcanic crater):

(click on picture for full version)

Plus, there was lots of chill out time at the villas. Besides the two heated pools, we had a jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room. So it became a regular pattern to go out and be active during the day, then come together for a big meal in the evening -- coordinated by my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth. After dinner, we would soak up the amenities and be social in the evening.

By chance, the folks who went horseback riding ran into a masseuse; she was then hired to come to the villa on two separate days, working on half of our party during that time -- some people used her twice!

The penultimate day of the trip was my actual birthday, March 13th. After days of rushing about, the big day was spent at the villas. Pancake brunch, afternoon tea by the pool (served by [ profile] miss_amaranth in a bikini), and lots of good company!

Was my plan a success? You betcha! As you may recall, dear friends, the goal was to make turning 40 my best birthday ever. Spending a week on a subtropical volcanic island with more than a dozen of my closest friends? Riding camels and scuba diving and eating geo-thermally cooked food? You bet this was the bestest birthday ever![**]

Now then, what can I do to top it for turning 50?

[*] Eventually, as I made more friends in Chicagoland, the regular parties would grow to be larger than that special one... but at the time, my goal was met with 25 people celebrating in a two-day party.

[**] Sixteen hours before I left for this awesometacular holiday, there was one extra development that made it even better. "What might that be?" you may ask. Ah, but that's the subject of my next LJ post...
anarchist_nomad: (A Crown of Flowers)
( Dec. 12th, 2013 05:30 pm)
Today is the birthday of the ever-wonderful [ profile] cheshcat!!! Go forth and share birthday wishes with Her Awesomeness via e-mail or phone or by leaving a comment in her LJ![*]

Being true to the "cat" part of [ profile] cheshcat, my beloved Chesh likes to reckon her age in cat years. By that token, today she turns seven and a quarter! Huzzah!

The day's celebrations began, as they should do, at the stroke of midnight. We stayed awake to mark the start of Chesh's special day, then went to bed soon after to share some quality alone time.

After six hours of rest, the fun continued when I greeted my dear Chesh with breakfast in bed.

Tonight, we are going down to the Cowley Road to celebrate the birth of the Chesh with our Oxford friends. We start with dinner at Atomic Burger, then follow that up with dessert at Indulge.

Finally, we will extend the festivities with a mini-holiday over the weekend. After work tomorrow, my dearest darlingest [ profile] cheshcat and I will be heading off to enjoy a spa weekend together at the Aqua Sana, whilst spending the night nearby in The Old Rectory. Should be both fun and relaxing! (A perfect chance to take a deep breath before the holiday madness sets in!)

All in all, methinks this makes for an excellent start to what I hope will be an excellent year! Huzzah!

[*] Disclaimer: My beloved [ profile] cheshcat last updated her LiveJournal one year ago today. So whilst you will find a birthday post there, it is slightly out of date. Is all good -- leave her a message anyway!

Much of yesterday was spent celebrating the birth of my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth. As she likes to continually mention: "I'm twenty-three. I'm old now." When she does this, I generally threaten to break up with her in order to find a new nineteen year old. Seems the only appropriate reply to claiming that twenty-three is old.

The day was full of celebrations around Oxford. We started in the afternoon at The Rose, home to the best cream teas in Oxford. It was all very casual and unstructured, with people coming and going from the party as we sat around chatting. Indeed, after my own tea and scones were finished, I had to duck out for a few hours, missing the second stop -- Far From The Madding Crowd. In the evening, I collected my beloved [ profile] cheshcat, and we rejoined the group for dinner at the Japanese(ish) chain, Wagamama. I don't usually get to enjoy vegetarian gyoza, so that was a nice treat. Then we finished the night off with ice cream (and presents!) at the best dessert parlour in Oxford[*] -- Indulge. Finally, at the end of the night, I went back to the House of the Rising Bun with the birthday girl for some quality alone time.

Due to the unstructured nature of the festivities, we don't have a tally of how many people actually came along. [ profile] miss_amaranth felt no need to count... and the Knave of Numbers (me) was not there for the whole time. Still, I estimate that twenty-something people showed up -- from as far away as London and Reading -- to celebrate. Huzzah!

Hard to believe that so much time has passed. When I first met [ profile] miss_amaranth, she was barely nineteen and just about to start university. Now she's twenty-three and in her second job post-graduation. Not quite sure where the past four years went -- maybe it's hiding under the sofa?

In any case, I don't have a picture from yesterday's party, so I shall re-use this older photo, taken at Oxford's Harcourt Arboretum two years ago:

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart! I know that twenty-two ended on a high note, with many wonderful things falling into place for you right now. May twenty-three be even more spectacular! I look forward to sharing it with you!

[*] As a side note, I particularly like the fact that all of the chosen venues of celebration were local Oxford businesses, save one. Wagamama was the only chain. I may have an Oxford party at some point that follows much of the same itinerary, except perhaps substituting Atomic Burger for Wagamama. And maybe have The Eagle and Child as my choice of pub, instead of Far From The Madding Crowd.

Happy June, gentle readers!

Once upon a time, I would have thought of the start of June as the beginning of Summer. Here in Merry Olde Englande, however, it seems that this is really when Spring begins. After much cold and wet weather this week, it is finally a nice Spring day! Blue sky, sun -- good stuff! Still a tad chilly, only 60oF (or, if you prefer, 15oC or 288 K). Like I said, a nice Spring day.

The start of June also gives us something else to celebrate! For today is the anniversary of the birth of the awesometacularity of the [ profile] tawneypup! Huzzah!

Hard to believe that this fabulous woman has been a part of my life for nearly five years now! Wowza, time flies! With four thousand miles (and an ocean) between us, we don't get to spend nearly as much time together as I would like. Even so, the [ profile] tawneypup is very important to me, and I count myself lucky to know her!

Here's a picture[*] of the two of us together, taken at Spring Equinox in 2011. Just 'cuz.

Happy birthday, m'dear! Hope you have a blast... and here's to many, many more!!

[*] Have made this a rare f-locked entry as I'm not certain that [ profile] tawneypup would want her picture shown publicly -- especially in Druid robes. Correct me if I'm mistaken, hon.

anarchist_nomad: (Baby Giles -- two weeks old)
( May. 18th, 2013 08:52 pm)
In other news, our littlest furry baby turned five today! I find this somewhat hard to believe, but today is the birthday of Giles, our gorgeous -- though temperamental -- silver tabby!

Giles is the only native Brit in our household. He was born in Oxford and, indeed, has never left the City of Dreaming Spires. Our other three kitties -- Chirp, Stumpy, and The Boy -- are US-American and well travelled. They were born in Arizona, and travelled the 1900 miles to Chicago by car a year later, eventually followed by a trans-Atlantic flight to Merry Olde England.

We met Giles when he was four days old and brought him into our home five weeks later; since then, he has been a much loved part of our household. Excepting, of course, when The Boy is trying to sleep and Giles wants to play; at those times, there is a little less love in the house for him.

Giles is a bit of an odd duck cat, inventing new games for us to play with him like "Sink Game" -- wherein he jumps in one bathroom sink and meows for attention... then suddenly runs to the other bathroom sink and meows for you to follow and continue what you were doing in the first sink! Rinse and repeat -- he can go back and forth between the two bathrooms for quite some time!

This is how baby Giles looked, nearly five years ago, at the age of two weeks...

Normally, I would include a birthday picture, to compare "THEN" with "NOW". Alas, being in Japan makes this difficult. Even so, here is an non-birthday adult shot, showing how the little guy developed:

Giles came into our home shortly after a time of profound loss, not long after a four month period where we lost our previous tabby, Totoro, to kidney failure and our lovely Foxy to cancer. Not only did my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I find our hearts deeply wounded from the loss, but our surviving kitty, The Boy, was confused and lonely at being without other feline company for the first time in his life[*]. Whilst nothing can make us forget our departed furry children, Giles filled a much-needed space in our home and in the hearts of all three of us. So happy fifth birthday to him... and I wish for many, many more!

[*] At that time, his sisters -- Stumpy and Chirp -- were still living at the Event Horizon, some four thousand miles away!
anarchist_nomad: (Center of the Universe)
( Dec. 12th, 2012 12:12 pm)
Today is the birthday of the ever-wonderful [ profile] cheshcat!!! Go forth and share birthday wishes with Her Awesomeness via e-mail or phone or by leaving a comment in her LJ!

Being true to the "cat" part of [ profile] cheshcat, my beloved Chesh likes to reckon her age in cat years. By that token, today she turns seven! Huzzah!

Tis also worth noting that today is 12/12/12 -- the last triple day left in this century! Last month, some of us were chatting about date formats. The US-Americans like to use MM/DD/YY, the Europeans use DD/MM/YY, and the Japanese prefer YY/MM/DD. Today, my friends, it matters not which one you like best -- use them all, for they are one and the same!

(Unless, of course, you prefer the Japanese Imperial system, in which the year is counted from the time that the current Emperor ascended to the throne. In which case, today would be 24/12/12. It would still be [ profile] cheshcat's birthday, though.)

Ten years ago, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I were living in Arizona. Whilst we lived there, we had gotten into the habit of feeding the stay cats in the area, of which there were many. It started one evening, in July 2002, when a hungry kitty followed me home. We put out a dish of food for him... and, come the morning, it was gone. We repeated this nightly and, in time, our flat got a reputation amongst the local strays. We had several regular visitors; no matter how much food we left outside, by morning, all would be devoured. That Summer, we got to know the kitties that frequented our doorstep. The original was a sweet and petite grey tiger. There was also a black mommy cat who travelled with two of her kittens, one as black as she.

Ten years ago today, I was in Japan, getting ready to publish this paper. I received a phone call from [ profile] cheshcat; it was five in the afternoon for me and one in the morning for her. She had called to tell me that the black mommy cat had shown up at our door, as usual, but this time something was different. She was desperate to be let in, to come out of the desert heat. She also looked like she -- in [ profile] cheshcat's words -- had "swallowed a basketball". Clearly, there were little kitties inside, getting ready to come out. We deliberated for some time; bringing in a stray could put our two kitties -- Foxy and Totoro -- in danger if she was carrying an infectious disease like feline leukemia. On the other hand, if she gave birth outside, not all her babies would survive the heat. Finally, we decided to take her in, segregate her in the second bathroom for the night, and get her to a shelter in the morning.

Ten years ago today, I received a second phone call from [ profile] cheshcat; I was getting ready for bed as it was one o'clock in the morning for me. I was surprised that she had called and asked her: "It is nine am there; why aren't you in class right now?" The answer was simple -- the babies had started to come out!

That's right, dear friends, ten years ago today, we went -- literally overnight -- from being a two cat household to a seven cat household. The black mommy cat had given birth to four kittens. All were fully black, same as she, leading us to suspect that her all-black kitten from a previous litter was the most likely father.

Twas our intent to keep the mother and find homes for all four kittens, once they were old enough to be separated from mom. We had great fun with a house full of kittens... but plans changed. We interviewed several people who wanted to adopt a kitten; none of them seemed like they would provide a suitable home. All too many people want a kitten when it is young and cute, not realising that adopting a cat is a lifelong commitment that can last two decades.

Five months later, we flew the black mommy cat -- who we had since named "Rocks" -- to New York, where she was adopted by the ever-awesome [ profile] ms_redcat. The four kittens? We kept them all.

Ten years have passed since the day that my babies were born. For the first four years, all four kitties lived under the same roof, as a family, never spending a day apart. In 2006, we moved The Boy to England, along with Foxy and Totoro. He is sitting in the next room right now, as I type this. His three sisters -- Stumpy, Chirp, and Nona -- remained at the Event Horizon, my US home, with [ profile] gyades. In 2007, we gave away one of the "kittens", Nona, to a friend; we didn't want to let her go, but Nona had chosen who her favourite person was and it seemed cruel to keep them apart. This Autumn, after we empty the Event Horizon, Stumpy and Chirp will follow in their brother's footsteps, flying to England and joining him (and Giles) here at Chiron Beta Prime.

Meanwhile, what would be the point of a post about kitties if there were no pictures to go with it? So, gentle readers, for your viewing pleasure, I now present birthday pictures and baby pictures for The Boy (and sisters). Enjoy!

THEN: The Boy (front), Chirp (back) and either Stumpy or Nona (center) at eleven weeks, sprawled on the sofa in our Arizona apartment.

NOW: The Boy and I today, celebrating his birthday on the cat tree in our Oxford flat.

THEN: Close up on The Boy -- look at that face!

NOW: Same face, nearly ten years later.

THEN: Nomad, aged twenty-seven, holds one of the baby girls for the camera.

NOW: Nomad, aged thirty-seven, holds The Boy for the camera.

So a very Happy Birthday to all four of my furry babies! It has been a delight to have these kitties for the past ten years. Very much looking forward to having them with us -- happy and healthy -- for another decade!

[*] Um, for somewhat large values of "two".

A couple of years ago, somebody asked me:

"Hey, how are things with that nineteen year old that you're dating?"

I somberly responded that I was not in a relationship with a nineteen year old anymore, to which they replied:

"Oh. I'm very sorry to hear that." [PAUSE] "What happened?"

My reply? "She had a birthday"

Well, that lovely woman isn't nineteen anymore. She isn't twenty or twenty-one, either. As of about two o'clock this morning, my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth is now twenty-two.

Happy birthday, Sweetheart! And may the year that is just beginning be at least as wonderful as the one that has just ended!
Thanks to all who left birthday wishes in comments to the last entry. I received a plethora of birthday greetings, both on LJ and elsewhere. I am lucky enough to have awesome friends. And a spectacular partner, my beloved Cheshcat, to subtly remind them.

At the present moment, I find myself at Heathrow once again. My flight to Berlin takes off in just a few minutes. I've never been to Germany before. Should be fun!
anarchist_nomad: (Loch Ness Monster)
( Mar. 13th, 2012 12:01 am)
And, as the clock struck twelve, it marked the close of my thirty-seventh journey around the planet.[*]

My age is no longer marked by a triangular square number. Indeed, it shall not be so again unless I live to be 1225. On the other hand, I am now once again in my prime.

Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear Nooooooooooomad!
Happy Birthday to me!

Thirty-seven is set to be off to a good start. I will be spending the day on a date with my darling [ profile] miss_amaranth in Winchester, followed by going out to dinner with my beloved [ profile] cheshcat in Oxford.

Then, two days later, I am popping off to Germany for a five day holiday in Berlin.

Yes, definitely a good start.

[*] More or less, given the imprecise ratio of rotations about the planetary axis to revolutions about our sun... and the fact that it is still March 12th in the time zone where I was born... and the fact that I was born at 05:41, not midnight. But you get the idea.

Helllllloooooooo again, Chicago!

As previously mentioned, your friendly neighbourhood Nomad will be making a surprise appearance in the Windy City during the first week of March. Although this is a work trip, there will be time for some fun, too! Because what's travel without fun, right?

Here is what my itinerary looks like so far:
  • Thu Mar 01: 14:10 - Land at O'Hare. Go home, settle in. Poly Chicago's monthly karaoke meetup at Sidekicks in the evening! (Huzzah!)

  • Fri Mar 02: 07:00 - Bring Chirp to the vet for dental procedure. Work. 15:00 - Pick up Chirp from vet. EVENING: FREE!!


  • Sun Mar 04: Breakfast at Butterfield's. Maybe some spare time in afternoon. Prepare for big work week ahead in evening.

  • Mon Mar 05: Big important day of work at Fermilab. Collapse in evening. Dinner with friends possible.

  • Tue Mar 06: Recover from Monday. Prepare for Wednesday. Maybe get dinner with certain friends who have recently returned from cruising.

  • Wed Mar 07: Bigger importanter day of work at Fermilab. Includes delivering the Particle Astrophysics Center's weekly seminar. Professional dinner in evening. Pack like mad when all is done.

  • Thu Mar 08: Depart the Event Horizon at 06:00. Fly out of O'Hare at 08:50. Sleep.

Looking at the above plan, t'would appear that the best times to see some of my lovely Chicagoland friends would be on the evening of Friday March 2nd and on Saturday March 3rd.

Well, it just so happens that ten days after Saturday March 3rd, a certain Nomadic Anarchist is having a birthday. So it occurs to me: Why not throw a birthday party for myself at the Event Horizon! That would be pretty spiffy, huh? Possibly even bordering on the awesometacular if enough people show up!

Which means that it is time for that inestimable of beasts: The LJ POLL!

[Poll #1820132]

Those gentle readers who live outside of Chicagoland are also welcome to attend, of course. However, due to issues of distance and the fact that I've not yet completed work on the teleporter, tis understood if you cannot make it. This time.

Looking forward to seeing many of you lovely people sooon!!
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)

Whilst making my annual Summer visit to the States last year, a friend asked me how things were going with my nineteen year old girlfriend. I smiled softly and replied that I was not dating a nineteen year old any more. Said friend appeared sympathetic and asked what had happened. I smiled more broadly and replied that she had had a birthday.

By much the same process, I am no longer dating a twenty year old. My darling [ profile] miss_amaranth turned twenty-one yesterday! I would be a bad boyfriend for not writing about it in this journal on the day... except that the delay was caused by spending the entire weekend with her, helping to celebrate the start of her twenty-second year.

Over the course of the weekend, we had various friends over for hanging out and gaming; we had a fantastic dinner at Pink Giraffe and a yummy breakfast at Atomic Burger; we had cake and presents! To wind down the weekend, [ profile] miss_amaranth and I took a long stroll along the Thames Path yesterday evening. We walked about five miles, from the Osney Bridge[*] past the Osney Lock, through Oxford City Centre, past the Foley Bridge and the Donnington Bridge, past the Iffley Lock, and finally making it just outside of the ring road before turning around to come back again.

With such jubilations, we celebrated the birth of my beautiful partner! Twas a very good weekend, indeed!

[*] Lowest headroom of any bridge on the Thames.
Just got back to Mozumi after a night out in Toyama with KM. KM is probably my oldest friend here, as he was the postdoc assigned to look out for me when I first arrived in December 1998 as a young student. Since then, we both wandered away to other experiments, meeting frequently when we each ended up working in the world of ultra-high energy cosmic rays. As chance would have it, we have also both come back to our roots in recent years, with renewed ties to Super-Kamiokande for each of us. This means that we now meet here, in our old stomping grounds once more.

Going out with KM is always a treat, as I generally only see him about once a year these days. As always, we had a great time and chatted about everything under the sun. He remains a total sweetie, refusing to let me pick up the tab in any of the places we visited tonight. I did not have the heart to tell him that I get reimbursed for my receipts, so it would not cost me anything to treat him for once! Instead, he has made a donation to the Imperial College HEP travel budget by buying my dinner and drinks.

As an added bonus, today was the annual festival day for the big temple in Toyama. Thus, the streets were filled with people all celebrating in a carnival (or fun fair) atmosphere. It was really nice to stroll through. Also, for those of my dear friends who have not been brushing up on their Japanese geography, I should note that Toyama City is the capital of the Toyama Prefecture, and is a city with about 420,000 people -- just slightly more populous than Atlanta, Georgia. Hopefully this gives some perspective for the size of things in these parts. Toyama is a forty minute drive from Mozumi, which is well and truly the middle of nowhere.

Off to sleep now, as work continues apace... and that pace is rather brisk! Before I go, however, I would be much amiss if I did not wish a very happy birthday to my darling [ profile] tawneypup. So here goes: HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETHEART!!! My dear Tawney is the very embodiment of awesometacularity -- as anyone who knows her will attest -- and I hope that she has an utterly fantabulous day of birth!
L5's birthday was three days ago. The youngest leveret turned five. I did not post about it at the time because BiCon -- like Starwood, SummerFest, and P**T*** -- is a space where I sever ties to the outside world. No phone calls, internet, et cetera.

Nonetheless, and contrary to popular belief, thought is still possible even without a net connection[*]. I may not have posted about L5's birthday on the day, yet it was certainly on my mind[**]. Tis quite sad; I miss her. I realise that I will likely never see her again -- and that is hard enough -- but this weekend something else occurred to me:

Although I knew L5 for about half her life[***], she will probably not even remember me when she grows up. [ profile] cheshcat, too. She was too young.

I do miss all of the leverets, of course. Even the rambunctious L4. But at least I know that most of them will remember us. In particular, L2 -- who I will confess is my favourite -- is ten and so I am sure that he will remember the many times and the little adventures that we shared together. Somehow, that makes it just a tiny bit easier.

At the very least, I hope that L5 remembers some of the things we did together. [ profile] cheshcat and I organised her first theatre experience -- an adaptation of the children's book Room on the Broom[****] -- last year. For that matter, we also took her to the Oxford Panto in December, where she ended up on stage at the end. If she remembers these things -- or keeps some affinity for theatre from the impression of them -- then at least we will not be completely forgotten.

I think that I will not attempt again to form a serious relationship with a person who has children. The stakes are simply too high, and if things fall apart there is too much to be lost. I can manage to date a person with kids if it is a casual relationship[*****] where I am not going to form independent bonds with the children. For serious capital-R relationship building, however, it is just too much. The next time I have children in my life, they will be my own.

[*] Shocking, isn't it?

[**] Indeed, some of you at BiCon may have heard me discussing it.

[***] From age two until age four and a half.

[****] Which she called "Witch on a stick!"

[*****] For instance, with the lovely [ profile] livetbd. We have been together from a year before when her little one was born. He is now two and I have still to meet him.

The countdown to Japan continues apace. In preparation, I had a phone meeting on Friday afternoon with my partner-in-crime colleague RT. On finishing that call, my weekend officially began!

The weekend fun started off with the arrival of my beautiful [ profile] bunnypip. We shared some quality alone time in the Flat With No Name before heading out to meet the charming [ profile] cheshcat at Gloucester Green; once united we hit Angry Thai[1] for a yummy dinner! I find their pad thai to be particularly delicious!

After our heroes were properly nourished, they made their way to the Oxford Playhouse for the evening's entertainment. This week's show -- my ninth of the year -- was Sweet Charity[2]. Alas, we forgot to bring the crackers... which was quite a shame because they would have gone so well with all the cheese! I liked the show and am glad that I saw it -- several of the songs were quite good, Bob Fosse's choreography is always enjoyable[3], the corny humour made for some wonderful laughs... and the costumes made for some very delicious eye-candy! Still, having seen it once, I don't think that it is a piece that I need to see again; it was cute, but not terribly compelling. As I mentioned to my lovely companions afterward: "The list of my top five favourite musicals..... is completely unchanged."

Heading home after the theatre, [ profile] cheshcat and [ profile] bunnypip and I read the final three acts of Kit Marlowe's Edward II[4], in preparation for seeing it at Oriel College on Thursday. I am still utterly amazed at how blatant the homosexuality[5] is in this piece! Quite different from Shakespeare, where characters like Antonio are probably gay[5]... but not explicitly so. Overall, the play shows off Marlowe's classical education quite extensively... though it is not as subtle as some of his other works. Nonetheless, I've not seen a Renaissance history play in some time, so I am quite looking forward to this production.

After finishing the play, it was after one o'clock in the morning. Thus, we all went off to bed and, eventually, sleep.

On Saturday morning, [ profile] bunnypip and I woke at nine, then made our way to the Barton Pool. We hopped in and she swam the breast stroke for a new personal record whilst I front-crawled for my usual mile.

Back at home, we showered, ate breakfast, and packed. As we did so, we were joined by the marvelous [ profile] miss_amaranth and the xtreme [ profile] xmakina. Then off we went to the quaint little town of Hitchin, where [ profile] miss_amaranth and [ profile] xmakina went exploring whilst [ profile] cheshcat, [ profile] bunnypip,[6] and I attended a performance of Henry Purcell's British opera Dido & Aeneas. This was my tenth theatrical performance of 2010... and it made for a nice counterpart to seeing Sweet Charity the night before -- on Friday, we saw a 1960s musical; on Saturday, we saw a 1690s musical!

After the show, we all reconvened and made our way to Nottingham, to attend the birthday party of the fabulous [ profile] fire_kitten![7] This was gangs of fun and involved good food, good company, good conversation, and many cuddles! I met many lovely new people, some of whom are newly added to my LJ f-list. Yes, I'm looking at you [ profile] lost_house and [ profile] dragonmamma. Of particular enjoyment was the musical theatre singalong that spontaneously erupted late Saturday night in the library![8] As we talked and sang, I watched the birth of a Totoro, crocheted by the talented [ profile] lost_house! Hooray! It was well past three in the morning before we all finally passed out. There are far worse ways to end an evening than snuggled up between [ profile] cheshcat and [ profile] bunnypip in a king-sized bed!

On Sunday, I had a lie in until after ten o'clock. Then it was downstairs for breakfast and more fun! Some of that fun involved an Easter egg hunt in the backyard! Yay! Eventually, around half one, our tribe gathered into Peter II and we made our way back to Oxford, dropping [ profile] miss_amaranth and [ profile] xmakina off in Eynsham en route.

Back at the Flat With No Name, [ profile] bunnypip and I snagged some quality alone time before we needed to leave -- her to London and me to St. Giles to ring bells for Sunday evening services. I managed to practice my Plain Bob Minor with a nice touch, as well as continue learning my Stedman Doubles.

Finally, I returned home once again and spent some lovely time reconnecting with my darling [ profile] cheshcat. It was a wonderful way to end an excellent evening. After we finished, I curled up in bed with my current book -- Jasper Fforde's The Eyre Affair -- and read myself to sleep.

Overall, a most excellent few days -- a very nice mix of activities! Twas also a fantastic way to spend my last full weekend in Merry Olde England.[9]

[1] Okay, to be quite honest, the restaurant is called "Angrid Thai". However, it has quickly become rechristened in our circles...

[2] Bom bom BOM!

[3] Particularly the tap dancing. For some reason I find myself especially fond of his tap dancing.

[4] Technically, it is Marlowe's The Troublesome Reign and Lamentable Death of Edward the Second, King of England, with the Tragical Fall of Proud Mortimer... but, between friends, we will call it Edward II, yes?

[5] Or bisexual.

[6] Note the Oxford comma, those of you who clicked "What is it??" in my previous poll.

[7] Thus making six consecutive weekends of parties! Whilst it has been great fun, the warm weather and sun is calling me to get out and explore more. Thus, I am quite excited that I will be breaking the streak of party weekends when I fly out to Japan this coming Sunday.

[8] With the lead pipe.

[9] Until I return from Japan in mid-May, that is!

Today, there are three things[*] worth celebrating, my dear friends:

1) Tis the birthday of the lovely [ profile] perspicacious! Hooray! Happy birthday, Sweetie! Here's hoping that it's an awesometacular one!

2) Tis the birthday of the ever-incredible Barry White [ profile] xmakina! Huzzah! Happy birthday, my friend! I shall be dropping by this evening to ensure that you have a fantabulous time!

3) After carefully considering the options and what my various friends and partners are doing, I have finally decided on a Summer festival. Huspag! The wait is over, gentle readers! I shall be attending the first ever Starwood without Starwood Brushwood SummerFest in New York from July 19th to 25th! I can hardly wait! As the gray skies persist, the thought of a week frolicking skyclad in the woods and dancing to the drums amidst the bonfire in the Roundhouse is calling to me more than just a little! Hope to see many of you there!

[*] That I know of. Hopefully, in the whole of the world, there are more than that!

anarchist_nomad: (Sunset over Key West)
( Mar. 19th, 2010 11:58 am)
I am writing this entry from Ye Olde Oxford Tube, heading into London. Tis Friday again! Another weekend is nearly upon us!

Speaking of weekends, there is quite a bit going on this weekend! Although that may not be so unusual. Upon looking in my Slingshot yesterday, I was struck with the realisation that my next completely free weekend is September 17 - 19. Eeep! That is six months from now! The last free weekend in the next half-year (June 11 - 13) just got filled yesterday with a narrowboat trip on the Walden III, cruising the Oxford Canal from Banbury to Oxford!

I am used to having my calendar filled two or three months in advance... but not six! I suspect that the surfeit of upcoming trips -- two to Japan, one to South Korea, one to the United States, and one to Scotland -- have a lot to do with it! Thankfully, some of those weekends are only partially booked, with space still available for other activities!

Speaking of weekend activities, last weekend was quite packed! My official birthday celebration[1] was gangs of fun and an awesometacular success! All went according to plan -- we started off Friday evening with the All You Can Eat menu at the Pink Giraffe. Can anything that begins with some of the best vegetarian Chinese food be less than fantastic? As usual, the Giraffe did not disappoint, with favourites like the Beijing [mock] duck and the [mock] chicken satay and the [mock] chicken with cashews and yellowbean sauce. Even the meat eaters enjoyed! As is also usual when doing AYCE at the Giraffe, everyone left the meal feeling like we could roll home[2] and we wouldn't need to eat for a week! We wound down Friday evening with a couple of rounds of Dominion, introducing L1 to the game.

My actual birthday -- Saturday -- began with the traditional phone call from my mother. This is an event that defies description; one truly needs to hear it to appreciate it! After breakfast and a bit of prep work, people began to arrive... which meant that it was time for presents! I got a particularly awesome stack, including some coins from the Royal Mint, comic book t-shirts[3], the new Chumbawamba album, sushi-making lessons, My Neighbor Totoro[4], a very sweet framed photograph, and more! Once all the presents were opened, we let the games begin! We started out with Wise & Otherwise (which my darling [ profile] bunnypip won), then moved on to Betrayal at House on the Hill The Shinnin'. I ended up as the traitor -- this was my third time in the role... and I have never succeeded at my task! Guess I am just too much of a good guy! As the day went on, we also played Bag o' Nouns (my team won), Apples to Apples, Lost Cities[5], Monte Python Fluxx, and a few rounds of Werewolf. Good fun!

Partway through the afternoon, we mixed up some liquid nitrogen ice cream. It was a collaborative effort -- F and L2 mashed the strawberries, [ profile] miss_amaranth and [ profile] wolfpeach each helped pick up the supplies, I mixed them all together, [ profile] topbit poured the LN2, and [ profile] xmakina stirred. I was less than ecstatic... as I had overestimated the ingredients, leaving some of the mix unfrozen by the time we ran out of liquid nitrogen. I really need to purchase a larger dewar! Still, methinks that I was just being a perfectionist -- everybody else seemed to really enjoy the ice cream![6]

In the evening, we ordered pizza and then had a karaoke sing-a-long! Starting with the Bohemian Rhapsody, we moved on to Video Killed The Radio Star, Karma Chameleon, American Pie, Build Me Up Buttercup and more! We even Rickrolled ourselves! This was a phenomenal group to have a sing-a-long with -- I have not laughed so hard in nearly a year!

Throughout the day, calls and text messages had streamed in. That was very nice -- thank you to all who could not make it, but send something on! We had a decent turnout for the party, too; nineteen people helped me bid farewell to the first half of my fourth decade. At the Event Horizon, I would consider this number to be quite small and the party to be a bit of a flop. But, bearing in mind that I still have far fewer friends in England than in either Chicago or New York, it was a decent turnout.

As the hour got late and people started to head home, we broke out The Shinnin' again for another game. This time [ profile] xmakina was the traitor -- helping a giant spider to lay its eggs in one of us and waiting for them to hatch. Alas, the poor victim to get caught in its web was the arachnophobic [ profile] cheshcat! Luckily, we heroes managed to free her and destroy the eggs, then get the hell out of the haunted house in time! My explorer did not survive... but at least I was on the winning team! We finished playing around four in the morning... but with two arachnophobes in the game, it was not considered an ideal way to end the night. L1 wanted to play The Shinnin' yet again... but no one else thought this was a good idea. So out came Dominion once more, which I won by a reasonable margin. Finally, we dropped off to sleep around five o'clock in the morning -- which was still my birthday in Eastern Standard Time, where I was born!

Sunday was a much more mellow day. To wind down from the weekend, I planned to have us watch a few of my favourite films. The choices were made according to the movies that I have been waiting to introduce to [ profile] bunnypip. We started with The Princess Bride, as I have been waiting to show it to my British friends ever since I learned that the film was not ubiquitous here -- inconceivable! Next up was my favourite anime, My Neighbor Totoro. After those two, we took a break for chocolate cake -- complete with Red Dwarf figures and rocket candles on top! Awesometacular, indeed! Finally, we finished off the films with one of my favourite comedies: Michael Frayne's Noises Off! It was wonderful watching how hard everyone laughed at this hysterical show!

Shortly after the movies ended, I made my way to St. Giles -- accompanied by my dear [ profile] miss_amaranth -- to ring bells for Sunday evening services. Then three of us went up to the roof to watch a particularly striking sunset. Upon returning home, [ profile] xmakina and [ profile] cheshcat and [ profile] miss_amaranth and I played Lost Cities (which [ profile] xmakina won). Then it was off to Atomic Burger in Cowley for dinner. Finally, I dropped [ profile] xmakina and [ profile] miss_amaranth off at home before settling down for the evening with my beloved [ profile] cheshcat. Twas a very good weekend. A very good weekend, indeed!

So now, my dear friends, I am thirty-five! It began with a bang... let's keep the excitement -- and the good times -- rolling!

[1] In contrast to the unofficial surprise party held the week earlier!

[2] Except for the fact that it would mean rolling up a rather steep hill!

[3] Iron Man, and the movie version of the Watchmen.

[4] Extremely important for Sunday! See below.

[5] The four-player board game, which was new to me, rather than the familiar two-player card game.

[6] Either that or they were just being very polite!

This is not the birthday post you've been looking for, gentle readers... though it is the first post that I make in my thirty-sixth year on this planet. Although Nomad's Thirty-Fifth Birthday Weekend ExtravaganzaTM was a phenomenal success -- and I'm sure that all my dear friends are gripping the edge of their collective seats waiting to hear all -- writing about it will have to wait. I'm currently preparing a proposal to obtain Super-Kamiokande neutrino and decay electron data... which I need to send off shortly in order to get to the final Oxford BiFest planning meeting on time!

Thus, my gathered friends, I have but one nugget from the Life of Nomad to share with you on this fine March evening. And that nugget is:
On checking the post this afternoon, I found a rather large package from the Home Office. In it, alongside a boatload of papers that were being returned to me, were passports for my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and myself... complete with our new visas!!! We are now legal residents of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland[*] until March 2013! Three more years!! Huzzah!!!!!

These are the third visas that we have had since moving to Merry Olde England nearly four years ago. The first set, from March 2006 to March 2008, were based on a Work Permit... and thus tied to my old job. The second set, from March 2008 to March 2010, were under the now-defunct Highly Skilled Migrant Programme... and thus tied only to me.[**] The current visas are valid for even longer, under the new Tier 1 (General) status... which basically is just HSMP under another name.

Sorry, folks! If you thought you were getting rid of me so soon -- or so easily -- you were mistaken! The Nomad is here to stay!

[*] Incidentally, the UK has the longest name of any country in the world!

[**] And my high skillz. mother brought forth on another continent a new Nomad!

And, gentle readers, that means it is nearly time to celebrate!

As mentioned in my previous entry, this year my birthday festivities got off to a surprise start one week early! As also promised in that entry -- and first mentioned two months ago -- here are the final details of this weekend's celebrations:

On Friday March 12th[1], I had originally intended an evening of either Laser Tag or karaoke. Alas, my fair city has thwarted me in this endeavour! Et tu, Oxford? The only Laser Tag place in town has closed up its doors... and, despite my best efforts, I know not where there is a karaoke bar. Ah, Sidekicks! Where are you when I need you?[2] Instead, then, there shall be a Formal Birthday DinnerTM on Friday. Think of it as the Last Supper... as it shall be the last that I have in my thirty-fifth year. At 17:00, my beloved [ profile] cheshcat and I will be seeing a show called The Ethics of Progress at the Oxford Playhouse. Said show lasts but an hour... so I propose that we converge on the Pink Giraffe at 19:00 for the Last Supper. There will be the ever-delicious All You Can Eat for those who are so inclined... with the option of the regular menu for those who might be on more of a budget. After dinner, people are welcome to join us back at the Flat With No Name for an evening of whatever suits our fancy!

On Saturday March 13th, I can no longer claim to be in my early thirties! Holy macaroni, Batman! It feels like just a little while ago that we were celebrating my thirtieth with a weekend party (that couldn't be beat) at the Event Horizon! Come on over to the Flat With No Name on Saturday anytime after noon to enjoy a day full of games and fun and cake (with rocket candles!) and karaoke! In fact..... it will probably look quite a lot like the surprise party that we had last Saturday, with Bag o' Nouns and Betrayal at House on the Hill The Shinnin' and more! As an extra bonus, there may also be Wise & Otherwise and Dominion! So those of you who stopped by last week, you had the privilege of a sneak preview on what I was planning! As for those of you who read my write-up and thought that it sounded fun? Here is your second chance! Life rarely provides those, so aren't you the lucky one! Plus, for those lucky enough to be present, you will have the super-duper added extra bonus spectacular of witnessing my annual birthday phone call from my mother -- an event too bizarre to be described!

On Sunday March 14th, the new and older Nomad will wind down his weekend with a small movie marathon. Take part in the rare opportunity to watch a film with the Nomad! I have committed to ringing bells for Sunday services at St. Andrew's Church, here in Headington, from 09:20 until 10:00. Thus, allowing for a slow Sunday morning and time for breakfast, the first film shall begin at 11:00. This will be a very child-friendly marathon -- I plan to show Miyazaki's wonderful anime, My Neighbor Totoro[3] and that timeless classic: The Princess Bride! Inconceivable! The final film in this ad-hoc series will be Michael Frayn's hysterical comedy: Noises Off![4]

So that, my dear friends, is my cunning plan! And you -- as a person on my LJ f-list, are formally invited! Come for the whole of the weekend, or just part! Don't let the fun (and games!) pass you by! Don't live locally? No problem! Crash space is available for any and all who need it![5]

And now, here is the moment you have all been waiting for! To amaze and astound you we have..... a poll! (Huzzah!)

[Poll #1536806]

Very much looking forward to seeing you, my dear friend, tomorrow... and to enjoying your company at the very start of my thirty-sixth year on this Earth![6]

[1] Also known as "tomorrow".

[2] Chicago, of course! Right where it always is. Must increase power of the teleporter to arrange for the transport of buildings...

[3] Which, interestingly enough, I still do not have a copy of! Nothing like leaving things to the last minute, eh? Thanks are (or will be) due to [ profile] xmakina for saving the day on this one!

[4] Not actually unsuitable for children... though younger ones may simply find it boring.

[5] Though if you can bring any pillows or bedding with you, it will be most appreciated! Love and friendship are infinite... bedding supplies are -- alas! -- not.

[6] As opposed to any of the alternate Earths... where I have never been!



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