Puppy log

11 June, 2018

I’ve recently acquired a toy poodle puppy, who we’ve called Scully, to accompany the kitten Mulder who we adopted from PetRescue about a month ago. I’m the cat person in the house, and my wife is the dog person, so we decided one of each would be sensible.

However, neither of us had experience raising a puppy, and we had no idea how much work, how much constant supervision, and how exhausting it would be to get her through the first few weeks of house training and feeling confident and safe without her mother. We’re just over a week into this process and definite progress has been made, but there’s still a big way to go yet.

The result of this need for uninterrupted vigilance is that my wife and I are both taking a lot of time off work, and while we’re at home we have no time to do much else other than monitor Scully, unless we’re both home and one is looking after her. The secondary result is no new Game of Thrones episodes until things settle down to let us squeeze in an hour of TV watching again.

In the meantime, I thought I’d start blogging our experiences raising Scully. I’ve posted a few short notes to my Google+ and Facebook accounts, but realised it might be better to put them here for posterity more under my own control, and link across. To start with I’ll copy some of those posts here… (see next few posts)

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 5 “First of His Name”

7 May, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

King’s Landing: Tommen is crowned king in a ceremony in the Great Sept. Margaery looks on from one side and when she catches Tommen’s eye, she gives him a secretive, mischievous sort of smile, which he responds to. Her plan is clearly working and Tommen is developing a crush on her. But Cersei also sees her, and walks over for a friendly chat. I thought at first that Cersei would be confrontational, but no, she is all sweetness and light. She notes that Margaery is still wearing mourning clothes for Joffrey. Margaery puts on her “devoted to Joffrey” act, but Cersei says straight out that Joffrey would have destroyed her.

Then follows a very frank discussion. Cersei says that Joffrey would have been a terrible king, but Tommen may be the first decent king Westeros has had for a long time, but he will need someone strong to help him, and that she presumes Margaery would still like to be queen. Margaery replies appropriately humbly, while indicating that that would be an honour. Cersei is favourably inclined, and says she will see about starting the arrangements for Tommen to marry Margaery. Margaery, perhaps a little too relaxed, drops a joke about an abundance of weddings – referring to the fact that Cersei is still betrothed to her brother Loras, and says she doesn’t know whether to call Cersei mother or sister. I thought this might trigger a harsh response, but Cersei takes it all in her stride. Well, Cersei is one cool customer all right. I imagine she has some plan in the back of her mind, which requires sucking up to Margaery for the time being.

Cersei meets Tywin and suggests the marriage. Tywin asks how soon. Cersei says after an appropriate period for her to mourn her son and Margaery her husband. Tywin says, A fortnight, then?” and Cersei happily agrees. He says her marriage to Loras should not be delayed much longer either, and suggests holding it a fortnight later. Tywin says they need a strong alliance with the Tyrells to support their current financial problems. He reveals that the Lannister gold mines have been worked out, and the family is in massive debt to the Iron Bank of Braavos, which is news to Cersei. This is significant news, as it foreshadows problems when the Lannisters need to raise an army – their victory in any coming war now seems much less assured.

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Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 4 “Oathkeeper”

29 April, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

Meereen: Apparently the slaves of Meereen don’t immediately rebel and overwhelm their masters, because the episode opens in the night, so several hours must have passed since Daenerys catapulted the broken slave collars of Astapor and Yunkai into Meereen. The opening scene is Grey Worm and Daenerys’s translator Missandei inside a tent. She is teaching him to read and speak the Westeros language. During this, their hands almost touch, but she draws away shyly. Clearly this is setting up either romance or rejection between these two.

Daenerys interrupts and says “It’s time”. Grey Worm exits to lead an infiltration of Meereen via a sewer, with several troops dressed as slaves, complete with collars, lifting the sewer gates and spreading throughout the city. They come across a meeting of slaves, where one of the Meereen slaves is urging the others to rise up in revolt, but most of the other slaves are unconvinced, saying they can’t fight, or that they’ve already seen too many failed uprisings, and they’d rather live a slave than die. Grey Worm says he has come to help them revolt. The naysayers complain they have no weapons or fighting skill. Grey Worm’s followers dump sacks of swords and knives and other weapons on the ground.

This does the trick. Next thing we see hordes of armed slaves attacking masters in the streets of the city. The scene then cuts to the next day, when the slaves are freed and chanting “Mhysa” (“mother”) as Daenerys walks through them to a position on the walls where she can speak. She asks how many children the masters nailed to mile posts along the way to Meereen. The answer is 163. Knowing what she is thinking, Ser Barristan advises Daenerys that sometimes injustice is best answered with mercy. Daenerys says that she will answer injustice with justice, and orders 163 of the former masters nailed to posts to die in agony.

Well. She’s conquered Astapor, Yunkai, and now Meereen without encountering any real obstacle, and now has a vast army of loyal followers. What’s the next step? Following the Rule of Three, it seems she should now be ready to launch her assault on Westeros. We haven’t seen the dragons for a while – I’m guessing this is so that next time we see them they will have grown impressively large. Can anything stop her?

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Old Italy 2001 travel diary updated

21 April, 2018

I’ve just completed one of the long-term projects on my to-do list: Upgrading the travel diary I wrote for my trip to Italy back in 2001. This diary used to have just one or two photos per page, and embedded only as tiny thumbnails.

I’ve gone through all of my photos from this trip, cleaned up a lot of them, and posted many more than before to my Flickr album for the trip. I took 662 photos on the trip (all on film – digital was barely even a thing back then!), and now 447 of those photos are uploaded and viewable. And I’ve embedded large, clickable versions of many of the best photos into the travel diary, with captions. I’ve also caught and fixed a bunch of typos, and added a few new paragraphs of material describing things that happened on the trip which I hadn’t previously recorded.

I’m very happy with this upgrade to this diary. It was the first really big overseas trip I took with my wife, and there are a lot of great memories in there as we discovered Italy for the first time.

Now I just have another 11 travel diaries to perform similar upgrades on…

Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 3 “Breaker of Chains”

11 April, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

King’s Landing: Joffrey is dead! I almost half expected to see this episode open with Joffrey recovering in bed, and Maester Pycelle explaining how the poison wasn’t entirely fatal, but I suppose that’s a thing best left to The Princess Bride.

So, in my previous conclusion I conjectured on what would happen to the kingship, now that there’s no obvious successor better than Princess Myrcella, Joffrey’s sister. Well, it turns out Joffrey has a brother! Who knew?! I certainly didn’t. His name is Tommen and I definitely don’t recall him ever being introduced or mentioned before, although it’s definitely possible that I overlooked it at the time (there are a lot of details in this show that seem utterly unimportant at the time).

Anyway, we’ll get to Tommen in a bit. Immediately after Joffrey lies dead at his own wedding feast, we see Sansa being led away to safety by the Fool. Lucky for her, because Cersei is on the warpath and not only wants Tyrion arrested for Joffrey’s murder, but Sansa taken as well. Tywin orders the city gates sealed and Sansa captured and brought to them. But she’s already away, and the Fool leads her to a boat and rows out to sea. In the fog, they meet a ship, and the Fool tells Sansa to climb up the ladder first. A hand grabs her arm to help her aboard… it’s Petyr Baelish! Fairly predictable in hindsight, but I hadn’t really pondered who might be behind her rescue until he was revealed.

The Fool asks for his reward of 10,000 coins, and Baelish responds by having him shot with arrows and killed. Sansa protests, but Petyr explains that the Fool was only as loyal as the next person to offer him money or booze, and the best way to keep her safe was to silence him. She ponders this for a second and sees the logic, but is still appalled. Okay, well, Sansa is no doubt safer here than in King’s Landing, but I don’t entirely trust Baelish. He was in love with Cat, who rejected him. I wonder if his motivations with Sansa are entirely well-intentioned, or if lurking in the back of his mind is the possibility that she’ll be a young surrogate for her mother. And where is he going to take her?

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Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 2 “The Lion and the Rose”

2 April, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

North of The Wall: We have some point-of-view camerawork of something wild and savage stalking through the snow. It spots a deer, grazing peacefully on some morsel of vegetation found under the snow. The camera lurks and slowly approaches, behind the cover of trees. It leaps, startling the deer, which tries to flee… but too late. It lies dead on the snow, its throat ripped out.

“Hodor!” Hodor wakes Bran from his dream-borrowing of his wolf’s mind. His wolf, Summer, has been hunting for food. Jojen looks scoldingly at Bran, and warns him not to ride in his wolf’s mind too much, lest he become obsessed with the freedom and ability to move on his own legs, and forget that he is a human. It’s all very reminiscent of Granny Weatherwax from Discworld. Bran doesn’t look convinced, and I feel that maybe the temptation is too much and he is in danger of losing his grip on humanity.

They travel on a bit, and come across a weirwood tree, with its distinctive white trunk and red leaves. Bran wants a close look and asks Hodor to sit him next to it. Bran reaches out to touch the tree near its oddly human face in the bark, and is struck by a series of visions. We see the three-eyed raven, what looks like Ned, his father, moving through the tunnels that I think were under Winterfell, some other stuff that happened too quickly to remember, a huge flock of ravens flying through a forest, and then a voice saying something is hidden under a tree in the North. Bran returns to reality with new purpose and says he knows where they need to go.

So again we have this weird vision associating Ned Stark with those underground tunnels. We’ve seen this before a couple of times. I have a feeling that we have not heard the last of Ned Stark somehow. It really feels like this is foreshadowing some ghostly vision. Perhaps Ned’s spirit will return to give Bran advice on how to become the Lord of Winterfell and restore their lands. That would be cool.

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Game of Thrones, Season 4, Ep 1 “Two Swords”

13 March, 2018

Intro: I’m watching Game of Thrones for the first time. I don’t know anything about it more recent than this episode.

King’s Landing: The episode opens with a rare pre-credits sequence, showing a sword being melted down and its metal being used to cast… two swords. After the credits, Tywin presents a washed and clean-shaven Jaime with one of them. He admires its Valyrian steel, and asks where it came from, because such steel is apparently very rare. Tywin says he melted down some legendary sword of some sort, which was so stupidly big that he made two swords out of it. But we never see where the second sword goes. Despite the “Two Swords” of the episode title, I don’t think this is the second sword being mentioned. It’s a bit like “The Two Towers”, in that it’s not at all clear which of the five towers in the book are the two towers of the title. Anyway, I think the two swords of import are Jaime’s sword and… well, we’ll get to that.

Tywin tells Jaime to go back to Casterly Rock and take up residence as its lord. Jaime refuses, saying he swore an oath to protect the king, and must remain in King’s Landing. They bicker a bit over Jaime’s lack of sword hand, but Jaime casually says using his left hand will just make things a bit more even for his enemies. Tywin gives up and lets Jaime stay. I think this is the first time anyone has ever defied Tywin’s wishes successfully.

Jaime’s true motives are revealed when he visits his sister Cersei, and attempts to resume their incestuous relationship. Cersei rejects him, however, claiming to be “ill”, and saying she has been having treatments from a Maester. Jaime is surprised that she would let Maester Pycelle touch her, but she says it’s someone else (whose name I didn’t catch). Cersei tells Jaime off for leaving her for so long. He protests that he was captured and escaped as quickly as he could, and it’s not like he wanted to be away from her, but she doesn’t accept this excuse. Cersei seems to have grown bitter in Jaime’s absence. I wonder what her “illness” is… Could it be something significant for the future?

Meanwhile, Tyrion has been sent on an errand, to welcome dignitaries visiting for Joffrey’s wedding in a fortnight. A Prince Oberyn from somewhere in the south arrives, and immediately terrorises a couple of minor Lannister cousins in Littlefinger’s whorehouse. When Tyrion intervenes, Obery openly tells him that he hates Lannisters, and has come to avenge the rape and death of his sister by Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane. Okay… this is clearly foreshadowing for later developments, but I have to wonder why Joffrey or Tywin invited this guy to the wedding. Would you invite a guy to your wedding, if your hired killer had despatched his sister?? Seriously, what were they thinking?

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Yokohama 2018 travel diary: day 5

5 March, 2018

Friday, 2 March, 2018

We got up a little early, before the alarm we’d set for 07:00, prompted by the bright sunshine of a clear morning with blue sky. We had showers and dressed and packed our bags. Then I went down to get some sushi packs for breakfast, while M. had some bread she’d bought yesterday for the purpose. I brought them back and ate while we prepared to check out.

I had the final session of meetings from 09:00, so left M. to finish her packing and check out of the room herself a bit later on, leaving our bags at the hotel concierge desk for retrieval before our flight in the evening. Her plan was to visit the Hikawa Maru museum ship, although this ended up getting derailed…

My meeting ended with an administrative session, summarising the outcomes of all the technical discussions over the past four days, while Katoh-san took minutes. He then had to edit them with the assistance of Kuniba-san and Paul, while the rest of took a break of about half an hour. Dietmar wrote up the resolutions, and I assisted by providing one that I’d noted during the meeting which he hadn’t recorded (about communicating via liaison to JPEG about our intention to begin work on depth mapping standards). Then we had the final short session, which just ran through the minutes, actions items, resolutions, and plans for the next meeting. Paul showed a map of the Apple campus in Cupertino, with nearby hotels and room prices, which were around US$400 a night!

Then we were done and Scott declared the meeting adjourned, and we looked at the time and it was exactly 12:00, when we were scheduled to finish. I believe this is the first meeting I’ve been to that finished right on time, with all the others wrapping up early. I said goodbyes to various people and then left quickly to drop my laptop bag off at the concierge desk in the hotel and walk over to meet M. at the Red Brick Warehouse by 12:30.

When I got there, I found some sort of food fair in progress in the courtyard outside. There were many stalls and long queues of people at most of them. Taking a look, it turned out to be a bakery fair, with all of the stalls selling various breads, pastries, cakes, and so on. The queues in front of some of them were perhaps a hundred or more people long; it was amazing. I walked around briefly but then went inside the warehouse to the designated meeting spot near the Granny Smith Apple Pie & Coffee shop, where I quickly saw M. waiting.

Read more: sushi for lunch, exploring the old streets and jazz clubs of Noge, visiting the Iseyama Kotai-jingu shrine

Yokohama 2018 travel diary: day 4

4 March, 2018

Thursday, 1 March, 2018

We rose at 07:30 again and went looking for something different for breakfast. M. suggested going into Landmark Tower Plaza because there were plenty of food places in the ground floor level there. We found a French patisserie called Vie De France which was open. I grabbed a raisin scroll and an orange pastry that was a fat cylinder, as tall as it was wide. This second one was a new thing to me, and turned out to have a nice bitter orange marmalade flavour, combined with lovely fresh flaky pastry. It was really good. There was a misunderstanding with the lady who sold them to me however, as for some reason she included a coffee on my order when I didn’t want any, and it took some work to get the staff to understand that I didn’t want a coffee and to refund the price.

Then we returned via Starbucks where M. got her morning coffee.

The morning session of the meeting was a break to allow us to attend the CP+ camera show during the press-only time, from 10:00 to 12:00. However I had a meeting planned with Suzuki-san from Canon at 10:15, to discuss our work on the ISO TC42 committee. I went down to the meeting room a bit after 09:00 to get one of the press passes for the show, but then came back upstairs to hang out with M. until she left to go visit the Cup Noodles Museum.

I went to my meeting with Suzuki-san, and it didn’t take very long. We agreed to establish more frequent email communication than I’d had with Nagata-san (whose job as my liaison with Canon Inc. Suzuki-san had taken over).

Rappers
Rap dancers at the CP+ camera show

After that I had some spare time to visit the camera show since I’d arranged to meet M. at the Cup Noodles Museum at 11:30. I went over to the exhibition hall and swapped my press ticket for an entry pass, then went in to wander around the exhibits for a bit. I walked down once from end to end, then exited to go upstairs to the second hand camera market and camera gear sales area. This was crowded, as it was already open to the general public, whereas the main exhibition was in the press only time, and the public were already beginning to queue for entry. I found the Kenko stall and bought one of the inexpensive camera phone attachments that provides a telephoto lens, similar to the wide angle and fisheye attachments I bought last year. I also went to the Manfrotto stall and bought an extendible monopod for a bargain sale price of 2500 yen. Then I went back downstairs to the main exhibition and walked back the length of it along the other main aisle. I didn’t have a lot of time to wander around, but that was okay, having been here to see it the past two years. Much of it looked very similar, though of course a lot of the camera models would be new.

Read more: Granny Smith pies, Yokohama Museum of Art, Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum

Yokohama 2018 travel diary: day 3

4 March, 2018

Wednesday, 28 February, 2018

We began the day with a slow wake up as the light from the early dawn spilled into our hotel window across Tokyo Bay. We got up and went out for some breakfast, although M. also had some bread she’d bought yesterday at Pompadour. I got a couple of sushi packs from the convenience store in Queen’s Square, then we went to the Starbucks again where M. got a coffee and another of the chocolate chip scones, while I got a choc chip cookie. We ate the sweets there, then went back to our room, where I had my sushi packs, before heading off to the meetings for the day.

It was a full day of technical meetings, and quite exhausting in the stuffy room and an uncomfortable chair. As usual there were some disagreements on various standards drafts, often between the German and Japanese delegations, and I and other native English speakers would moderate as they disagreed about interpretations of words or grammar. I also spoke up about several technical issues as they arose, the ones that I have some expertise in.

Franken-adapter!
Power adapters for people’s computers at the meeting

We broke for lunch a bit before midday, and I went with Jonathan to a place where he said the Japanese delegates raced to at lunch time to get ramen. It was hidden in the food area under Queen’s Square, and there was a queue of about twenty people waiting for tables when we arrived. We thought it might take a while to be seated but the queue progressed very rapidly and we soon got seats at the bar facing the kitchen. We ordered the same deluxe ramen bowl, but wanted some gyoza too, and there was a combo which came with a plate of ten gyoza, so we ordered one of those and one without the gyoza, and shared those.

Read more: extremely good ramen for lunch, okonomiyaki for dinner