by Julia, blurred

Pick Up Snakes and Cherry Cakes

This morning I am recovering from the most intense Pick-Up Sticks game in the history of the world, made especially tricky by the use of Pick-Up Snakes, which adds a whole level of complexity.

We followed this with the Impossible Chair-Stacking game, which uses the chairs from Chairs but ignores most of the rules. Here is Antonia placing the last of the 24 chairs in to the stack:

This was our version of a hanami (cherry-blossom viewing party). Earlier in the evening, the cherry was looking very fine with the sunset behind it:

  • Current Mood: tired tired
green, cartoon

if you're wondering where I've been…

For the last few months I've been heads down working flat-out on realising the new version V2 of our web site, After a day of intense fire-fighting, it's finally launched and mostly working. I've been dealing with a bunch of little things we didn't spot during testing and also finishing off installation of redirects from old pages to their replacements.

I'm hoping that now the new site is live I'll have time to attend to some of my non-paid creative endeavours again, and indeed get started on some long-overdue house maintenance 👻
Tags: ,
by Julia, blurred

Please find me a co-worker (= Photocrowd are recruiting)

Apologies for a work-related post …

I am the development team on the website, but there’s more work to do than I can do alone so we are looking for a second developer. If you know someone who’s big on Python, Django, PostgreSQL, and agile development who lives within easy commute of central Oxford this might be the time to introduce us :-)
  • Current Location: work
  • Current Mood: working working
  • Current Music: Jo Li, Everything is AWESOME!!!
by Julia, blurred

B5 Visibility

B5 is a paper size, midway between A4 and A5. It’s about the size of a comic, except shorter and a bit wider (US comics are 168 mm × 260 mm, B5 is 176 mm × 250 mm), whereas A4 is noticeably larger and A5 noticeably bijou. I thought it might be nice to look for an aesthetically pleasing B5-sized exercise book/notebook to replace my log book at work.

It turns out B5 is pretty rare in Britain. Checking web sites of shops selling pads (such as Paperchase and W. H. Smith) yields nothing. Weirdly enough they don’t seem to systematically classify notepads by size. But then, this lunchtime I was idly looking at the sale shelves and lo! they had exercise books in B5 size with green lines. Not the ideal format but I thought I would try them anyway. The plastic covers are kind of unnecessary and are needlessly reusable (I say needlessly because what are the chances of my finding a refill).

Then to my chagrin I found packs of B5 exercise books from Muji more or less by mistake (like most stationery web sites, they do not index pads systematically). I don’t plan to buy these because I now have more than enough log books to last me a good while.


On the grounds that I work on a photography web site so should be trying to up my game I bought a new camera, one with interchangeable lenses (specifically, a micro-four-thirds type). After admiring my friends’ excellent Olympus OM-D E-M5s, I chose a Panasonic DSC-GX7. I am still learning my way around the controls.

bookshop-garden-1000052 bookshop-garden-1000047 bookshop-garden-1000056 14705723973_2675db946a_k
  • Current Mood: artistic artistic
  • Current Music: Sky, Westaway
by Julia, blurred

Unintentional communities

Was discussing with oxfordhacker how (1) the internet is neat because it allows you to form communities of people you like, not merely are nearby to and (2) how what we now call "black and white television" was once called "television". What is the term for communities defined not by preference but by accident of location or whatever? We tried veracious phrases but none seemed right.

Then this morning the phrase "unintentional communities" popped in to my head. Meaning things like the Australian ex-pat community, which I am a member of whether I intended to or not.
Tags: ,
by Julia, blurred

Oxford World naked Bike Ride

World Naked Bike Ride (often initialised as WNBR) is a protest in favour of more space for bikes and curbs to car culture and fossil-fuel use. It is held in various cities, and 2014 was to be Oxford’s first.

Why would I want to do this? Partly because space for cycles is important, and our overuse of fossil fuels is a slow-moving disaster of global proportions – it seemed to be the obvious opener for what as both Oxford Bike Week and Low-Carbon Oxford week. A more self-centred reason is that one does not often have an opportunity to cycle naked through Oxford—and as slightly crazy challenges that take you a little out of your comfort zone, it is cheaper and less carbon-intensive than jetting off to a distant beach or driving to fire-walking seminar or whatever.

I met with friends beforehand at the Jam Factory so we could decide together whether we felt the organization was really there enough to feel confident joining in—the online info was discouragingly sketchy. Once we arrived at the start point we were met by the marshal with his special marshal vest to reassure us that (a) yes, the police are sanguine, and (b) yes, the route had been changed to avoid George Street (currently closed). It was a little chilly so I put off undressing until the ride was about to start. I left my helmet off as well, on the grounds I don‘t want to be sending out the signal that low-speed bicycling is a dangerous sport. After 25 years of habitually wearing a helmet, this was the thing I was most aware of not wearing once I was out on the road!

The ride itself was fine, though I am unused to riding in a large group and stressed a little about whether we were supposed to stop at red lights or not. The temperature was on the cool side but the exercise kept me warm. Oxford being Oxford, there were a massive number of iPads and iPhones on display as the tourists struggled to take a photo before we all disappeared. After a couple of loops of the city my friends and I decide to wimp out before the big suburban loop, dressed and repaired to the Jam Factory to see what sort of mean things people had written about us on Twitter.

Our aim was to help produce the smallest possible thing that could be called an Oxford Naked Bike Ride, so that in future years it can be built up in to a bigger, more diverse, and more Oxford-y event. If we can convince enough hipsters and hippies to join in it could be a fair crowd.

No-one is quire show where to organise events online anymore, so there are several places to find out more about the ride: Oxford WNBR wiki page, Facebook page, Facebook group, Yahoo group. (Edited to add:) Photos on Flickr in the Oxford WNBR 2014 pool and Oxford WNBR pool.
by Julia, blurred

Photocrowd Needs You!

The web site I have been building for six months is looking for beta testers.

There is not much – yet – on, but it gives you an opportunity to admire our logo.

Our target audience is people with an interest in photography who want a reason to get their camera out – there are set assignments based on particular subjects or techniques, plus opportunities to show off your best work that does not fit any of the current assignments. The founders are professional photographers, and will be recruiting expert photographers to provide reviews and advice on member’s images.

For the first round of testing we’re looking to have a small bunch do a dummy assignment to try out all the features of the site and prime the pump and all that – not to mention tell us how the site feels from the perspective of someone who has not been immersed in it for 6 months straight. Some people I know would be well-equipped to help us with that and I think you might find it amusing. :-)

If you might be interested let me know in comments or mail me.

Edited to add. The first bunch of testers will be restricted to people we know personally, so if you register your interest via the web site and your email address does not contain enough of your name for me to recognize it, please you add a comment here with a hint so we can match names to people. Thanks!
by Julia, blurred

Tesco is not trying to get my business

I wanted to buy a specific product, Flahavan’s Jumbo Organic oats, which previously I have only found in one place in Oxford, the Tesco‘s on the ring road. This is a ten-minute bicycle ride from my home, so I headed over there. They have been remodelling, it seems, but their Bicycle Parking is still the very worst cycle stands in Oxford.

Inside the store, the breakfast cereals have been relocated to the diagonally opposite corner to the entrance. And while I spotted the distinctive yellow paper bags Flahavan use easily, it turns out that they don’t stock the Jumbo Organic oats any more. Le sigh.

I was so annoyerd I forgot to buy bread while I was there, so I guess I’ll be popping out to the Sainsbury’s five minutes’ walk away instead.
by Julia, blurred

Working at a bookshop and decluttering

Decluttering is one of those words that my spelling dictionary does not recognize because it describes a new social situation: books and toys have become cheap and houses wildly expensive, so there are lots of people who can afford to buy the things that were beyond their parents’ budgets when they were kids, but can’t afford to buy increasingly large houses to house them in.

I volunteer oat the Oxfam Bookshop on Saturday afternoons and help sort saleable books from those that will have to be sent to the special farm. I figure this is good practice for when I come to winnow my own bookshelves. The problem is it is hard to get stuck in to this sort of think on one’s own.

This weekend not one but two of my friends dropped round separately to help me out, which is great because two of us get far more done than I do on my own, but does mean that after a day that starts with sorting out the greenhouse (and its many ant metropolises) and ends with hauling out boxes of comics for filleting and sorting, I am a bit tired. Tired but on the way to being a little less cluttered.