After a very sad start to the week, we were really glad to have some good news yesterday. Lotte has got a job! She’ll be working as a Cover Supervisor (teaching assistant) at a fantastic school called Parkside Community College, right in the middle of Cambridge. She’s overjoyed because the school is particularly good and the staff were really nice. They have a fantastic media arts programme and have dance and drama as part of the curriculum, which is what was important to Lotte. We’ve been looking at the website and hoping they would advertise something Lotte could apply for since before we left Australia. As if that wasn’t enough, on the same day I found out I’ll be getting a new Macbook Pro. Tonight our friends Simon and George are coming up to visit us from London, and we’re going to celebrate Lotte’s new job by going out to dinner.
Last night we received news that our beloved cat, Mr Squiggle lost his short battle with liver cancer and passed away peacefully on Sunday. We’re going to put together a collage of photos of him over the years, but for now, we’ve just got this page. It’s very sad, but it’s great to know that Squiggs was in such good care with Mum and Dad, and enjoyed his time over the past couple of months. We were fortunate that we knew he was not well before we left Australia, so we got to say our goodbyes properly. Lotte says that if he’s in heaven, he’s probably walking on God’s pillow and waking him up at 3am. Here’s to that thought.
We spent last weekend exhausting ourselves on the dance floor at Goodnight Sweetheart in Hertfordshire. It was a fun weekend for us because we hadn’t had much dancing in a long while. The weekend included workshops from Steven & Virginie and Peter & Giselle, among others. I think my favourite thing for the whole weekend was the classes from Peter & Giselle. Really great. The huge, gigantic, spectacular World Championship Battle of the DJs turned out to be rather disappointing. Sound systems that didn’t work, a strange setup, stressed organisers, and guess how many songs we played? 3! Even the final two only got to play a total of 6 songs. The winner in a very good field was Alf from Norway who did an excellent job in these difficult circumstances, I must say. He gets to buy himself a ticket to Canada (if he can afford it) as a prize. Hmmm. Still, it was great to get away for a while, and even more terrific to make some new friends and catch up with our great mate Dozka. She did us proud by making it through to the semi finals of the DJ Battle too. That’s better than I did, that’s for sure.
An awful lot is still going on here as we settle in. The big news for us is that Lotte’s found an ad for a job that really sounds like her, so she’s putting some time into preparing to apply. Keep your electronic fingers crossed, folks. She won’t know for a few weeks yet how she does, though. Work here for me is going well. I’ve had time to get to look at some things that I know will help me in the next year, including updating my knowledge on tools for qualitative research. In the running are Nvivo 7, Atlas.ti, and a Mac-only thing called TAMS Analyzer. I’m going to try the last of these over the next short while becuase I can run it on my machine and it has a limited feature set (an advantage for my needs, perhaps).
Today jeff pointed out this demo of Multitouch (14Mb, Quicktime), a gestural interface project that looks absolutely amazing. Also see this article and this page about the project. That’s exactly the sort of thing I heard Alan Kay talking about in 1994. It definitely takes a long time for these ideas to come to fruition.
And here’s the new flat in Cambridge. We were really impressed with how big it feels, and it still feels brand new. We’re only the second tenants since it was built in 2004. Lotte’s demonstrating how to make a chicken stir fry with our new stirfry pan from Tesco, which we ate on our new plates from Tesco. In fact just about everything we’ve bought so far (including our groceries) has been from Tesco. It’s not our first choice to support a giant megastore chain, but well, we’ve got a limited choice at the moment and it really does have everything. We’ve made what seems like dozens of trips there already, stuffing our little back packs full every time.
The place was fully furnished, so the fridge, book case, couch, kitchen setting and desk were all waiting for us. The best thing about the place is the floor, which is some kind of faux wood and will probably come in pretty handy when we want to practice dancing.
Probably the most surprising thing was the bedroom seems an awful lot bigger than at our place in Melbourne. It could be because the bed is only a double, but it really does feel pretty big. Both rooms have windows onto a courtyard, which has a bike shed on one side that is always crammed to the gills with bikes. Lotte was pretty happy about that.
Today’s major Tesco purchase was a micro stereo system, bought mostly based on being the cheapest one we could find that had audio input, so that we can use AirTunes. Wouldn’t be without it. It’s all plugged in and pumping out the tunes now.
Apologies for the slight break in transmission. We’ve been pretty busy moving out of our place in Melbourne and, then into our new place in Cambridge. We took just a couple of snaps before we left to remind us of the old place. This one was taken at our farewell party on the Monday night before we left. A word of warning: if you’re ever moving overseas and you have your farewell party 48 hours before departure you’re going to have a lot of cleaning up to do, and you might consider moving most of your furniture beforehand. We got out of it without too much trouble by giving away just about everything we possibly could to our friends as they left the party. People left with all sorts of items, including chocolates, kitchen utensils, cricket bats and ancient technological clutter.
What was I saying about life not going as planned? Last night my brother was rushed into surgery to have his gall bladder (along with a 1.5 cm stone) removed. Well, “rushed” is a strictly figurative term in this case because he was actually kept waiting in pre-op for about 4 hours because of an emergency case. But they had only diagnosed the gallstone the day before and had him into theatre last night at about 8pm. I was there when he was wheeled back up to his ward to see him give his victory point of the finger and smile as best he could through an oxygen mask. I know what it feels like when you’re waking up from being under — those drugs are actually pretty good and you feel very relieved that it’s all over. Despite being pretty groggy he was joking around so much we had to struggle not to wake up the other patients.
We’ve decided that with news of Oma’s stready progress we can stick to our initial plan of leaving on January 11. We’ll probably just change our side-trip plans to get to Amsterdam earlier and stay a little longer. This will mean we can proably just get everything organised before our departure, although I have to say it’s getting pretty tight.
Life doesn’t always go as planned. Just when we thought we were getting on top of our plans to leave, we learnt that Lotte’s Grandma (Oma) has taken ill after a fall. It’s now quite serious — she was admitted to hospital yesterday and had another fall today. Of course Lotte needs to be there for her Oma and really all we can do at the moment is think about how it would be possible for her to do that. We’re now contemplating leaving just after Christmas, and Lotte may even have to go sooner if worst comes to worst. We just hope we get some better news soon.
Yesterday was I took one of the last steps in my quest for some answers about my dizziness. At least one of the last steps I will take before I leave for the UK. I went and saw a Neurologist. He was very thorough, and gave me a bunch of different tests as well as some I had already done. I gave him my whole history and he spent quite a while going through some other questions. He’s diagnosed me with something called BPPV — Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo. He’s pretty definite about it. The way he described it was that one of my ears has got some little crystals in it, almost certainly because of the vestibular neuritis / viral labyrinthitis. I found a more detailed explanation on this page.
The ear that works tends to “push” me towards the ear that doesn’t work, resulting in spinning or movement. Anyway he reckons I need to try some home treatment exercises, which are also described on the page above. He also reckons that it works for almost all people within like a week, and that it probably won’t come back! I hope he’s right.
I never got a reply to my request to attend ASCILITE this year, so I guess that meant no. The paper that I didn’t present went down well, though, I hear! It was presented by the first author. It’s sad though — the first time I haven’t been given support to attend this conference. I know it sounds like sour grapes, but it really does make me feel like my decision to find another job was worthwhile. Clearly they don’t see professional development as a big priority where I am now, and particularly the academic kind.