And we're off again

Jul. 25th, 2017 04:41 pm
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Here are a few last glimpses of Riga before we hop a bus to Vilnius. We went to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, the Art Nouveau district, and I shot a few more pictures of the hotel.

under here )

Exploring Riga

Jul. 24th, 2017 10:12 pm
sabotabby: (sabokitty)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I don't have a ton of spoons left over tonight for a long post, so have some photos around and about Riga.

After the aesthetic exuberance of Odessa, Riga seems much more restrained, even dour. It's impressively old (founded in 1201, and there were settlements well before that) and lovely, but also more orderly, less lively, less organic. And, of course, much more expensive: welcome back to Western Europe.

This said, it's gorgeous and fun. Everyone speaks English here, which is relaxing. I don't mean this in a chauvinist way; mainly that I don't need to bother Anya to translate everything. Actually, where we're staying in the old town, it doesn't seem like anyone other than people working here are from here; it's pretty heavily touristy.

Which also means that it's incredibly easy to find vegan food. Including an entire vegan restaurant. I was like, "GIVE ME ALL THE PROTEIN."

The most important story I learned today was this: There were two powerful guilds in Riga. One was for skilled craftsmen, and admitted every eligible craftsman who applied to join. The other was for merchants, and only admitted Germans. A wealthy merchant from Riga applied to join and was rejected on the basis of his nationality. Accordingly, he built himself a giant fuck-off house across the street from the guild building and put black cats on the roof with their asses facing the building, as if shitting. The guild immediately sued to have the cats removed, but because lawsuits take time, WWI broke out, and no one gave a shit about cats' asses. The cats were mysteriously removed anyway in the 1920s, and replaced just as mysteriously in the 1950s, this time facing towards the guild, as it is now the home of the Riga Philharmonic, and no one has any quarrel with them.



photodump )

17 Moments of Riga

Jul. 24th, 2017 12:47 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Just arrived in Riga, Latvia. Thought, hey, this hotel is teh cute!

Anya is like, "This hotel is familiar."

I realize that this is of interest to probably no one else reading this (sadly it would be if I were cross posting to LJ, where there is a teeny community for such things), but I'm staying in the hotel where they shot Seventeen Moments of Spring (as well as parts of the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.) And if you think I'm not geeking out like mad over this, you don't know me at all.

Fortunately, Anya is the person who introduced me to the series so she is also geeking out and is equally pleased that Stirlitz is watching over the beds in our room, judging whether or not we have adequately sacrificed and fought for the cause of anti-fascism:


Here's the view out the window:



(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, here is my screenshot recap of Seventeen Moments after I watched it and decided that everyone needed to see it. Minus the image hosting, unfortunately; I'll need to fix that at some point.)

Odessa Opera House, Pt. 2

Jul. 23rd, 2017 09:07 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
So the performance sucked so hard we walked out. Like, possibly the worst thing either of us have ever seen, which is saying an awful lot. The tickets were suspiciously cheap, but tbh most things in the Ukraine are suspiciously cheap. But in this case I think it was because they knew it was terrible. We'd actually gone in to see if we could get a tour or just wander around the opera house, but the lady said that there was a show that night, so we decided to give it a shot.

She described the show as a sequel to The Nutcracker but also a crossover with War and Peace, and a musical. A "wonderful spectacle," in fact. I have to admit that we were basically morbidly curious, and it would get us inside those gorgeously ornate doors.

Anyway, we made it two songs in. The thing was in Ukrainian so we don't know what it was about but I don't think it would have made a lot of sense even if we did understand the language. It was kind of embarrassing to listen to.

But! It meant that we got to sneak out and take unobstructed photos of the glory that is the Odessa Opera House, and that was worth the ticket price alone. I hope you appreciate how hard it was to narrow these down. They don't half capture the actual, real spectacle that is this building, but I've given it my best.

pretty! )

The Opera House, Pt. 1

Jul. 23rd, 2017 01:17 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We went to the Odessa Opera House, one of the most famous and beautiful opera houses in the world.

behold! )

(no subject)

Jul. 22nd, 2017 10:10 pm
yam: (Nap guitar)
[personal profile] yam
It is I, sleeping yam!

Sooooo sleepy all the time. I barely do anything and then am so exhausted by it. Feeling pretty down about that, but oh well, it is what it is. I was hoping maybe it is just allergies on top of everything, but I'm not usually allergic to everything forever, and I haven't been getting less sleepy. On the other hand, it seems to be a truly epic year for allergies across the board, judging by how hard it is to keep my antihistamine section stocked at work, so maybe that is it. I'm like, pregnancy-level sleepy, although thank god that is not the cause. (I love my baby and I am never doing that again.) Feeling down about my finances as a tangled-up part of this; I keep trying to pick up extra shifts - in fact I have one this very week, I have absolutely not learned - and then getting smacked down immediately by how weak I am for days afterward. Sigh. I did a big round of expense trimming and feel a bit better about things, but my travel budget is not very... er... existent. Things will improve a bit next year I think, when my tax returns catch up to reality and I qualify for more government this and that. And I'm going to sign up for the Please Pay For My Mental Health Medication I Am Broke But You Want Me To Take It Trust Me program, which will incidentally pay for my expensive migraine pills, since they are also used for various psychiatric issues. Nothing's all that bad, but a lot of things are not great and getting my pollyanna on is something I have less and less energy for. Thank god I have cats.

I am, no surprise, still loving having cats again. It's not exactly the unconditional love of an animal that appeals - it's super conditional, I totally feed them and they love that! - plus I feel lots of unconditional love from my family and friends, I am blessed. But I never have to explain or do emotional labour about my migraines to them. It's... it's amazing. I spend a lot of exhausted time trying to hide how much pain I am in, or trying to wade ahead through awkward answers to "How are your migraines?" "How are you?" "You're doing so much better!" etc, or trying to soothe people who have gotten a peek at what exactly I'm used to - being in pain 24/7, expecting to be in pain, being glad when the pain is not as bad as it sometimes is, stopping for meds every 4 hours - that stuff keeps me busy and I don't really want to spend more time going "No, no, it's okay, I've got this. I mean, I recognize that it's awful that I've got this, that there's a thing to get, just... let's talk about the weather, hey?" And yet I have the same impulses when people I love are in pain or in a lingering bad situation and I get the helpless need to reach out and show my shared horror / sympathy / disapproval etc. I'm not sure what to do with the irritation at how much emotional labour it is. Trying to come to view it as a symptom of my illness rather than a behaviour other people are doing to me. In some ways the societal downplaying of how bad migraine can be because it's predominantly a woman's disease comes in handy, helps me get away with "Fine thanks how are you!" when light is hurting me and sound is hurting me and my head is throbbing and moving hurts. It's... complicated. I've settled on usually answering "Oh, medium." when people ask how I'm doing. Most people seem to interpret that as "not in the mood to talk about it, but not brushing you off," which is about what I want I guess. Sick of this shit; still no hall pass; oh well, heft the backpack, here we go. But cats. Cats are an outlet of affection and amusement that involves none of this social illness role math. It's nice.

Splatoon 2 just came out and I ADORE IT. (Splatoon 2 had a line item all by itself in my cramped little budget. Tentacles: essential.) I can't stand to play for more than a few matches in a row because the sound hurts and also like, staying awake is harrrrrd, but BEING A SQUID IS STILL GREAT. Greg is very excited to watch me play. He would also like to play, but he's not getting his hands on my expensive, fragile Switch until he can come up with the gameboy I just bought him like six months ago which is lost inside our apartment somehow. This is not as ridiculous as it sounds, as our floors are constantly a disaster - he's six and I can't easily bend over to pick things up because of my bad knee and the way my head hurts if I do - so probably there are LOTS of interesting treasures hidden in the drifts of clutter here. But no getting jam on my new console until I confirm the previous one hasn't been stepped on or something. I might cave and let him play Splatoon 1 on the wii u, since let's face it, it's already well-jellied.

I've been going to church lately. I feel all sheepish about it, after being various flavours of atheist all these years. (While also being a church-going unitarian for many of them - but that's different in a lot of important ways.) But the Wednesday healing service at the local anglican cathedral is so lovely. It's so CALM and quiet and soothing, and they pet my head with blessed oil, and all kinds of muscles in my head and neck untense as the liturgy flows past. And then church ladies make me coffee and gossip about nursing homes with me. (As a pharmacist I am totally up on all the nursing home gossip.)

I have recently devoured two Neal Stephenson books and loved them: Reamde and Seveneves. They are both very in your face speed-reads (despite their great weight) rather than dense fruitcake like the Baroque Cycle, I am happy to report. I mean, I read all of the baroque cycle (I alternated it a chapter at a time with Vorkosigan books to keep myself going,) but it's more the kind of thing you do to put on your resume rather than for pleasure. I'm a little afraid to pick up his newest, DODO, because it looks like a bit of a return to historical twee-ness. I might give it a few years and then peep nervously at reviews.

Righto, back to sleep. Here are your journal entries for the next three weeks: CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS CATS

Perhaps my most touristy of posts

Jul. 22nd, 2017 11:13 pm
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I did it! I got a picture of the unicorn.

click here )

WTF: Ukraine Edition

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:09 pm
sabotabby: (coffee)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I feel like this needs to be a separate post from the OMG ODESSA IS SO PRETTY post. For one thing, these were taken on my shitty cell camera and not my iPad. But also they're pictures I've taken when I've seen something hella weird and immediately need to inform social media.

Let's just say there are some, uh, cultural differences between Ukraine and everywhere else I've ever been that take a bit of getting used to. FOR EXAMPLE:


What is this, some kinky sex thing? Maybe in that masochist bar that we didn't get into because your kink is okay but not my kink?


No! It is the café in the Lviv airport. Why do they have chairs like this? No one knows. But to answer a few questions:

1) Yes, we sat in them.
2) Yes, they are actually quite comfortable.
3) No, no one else seemed to think they were out of the ordinary in any way.

To answer a question no one asked:

1) Yes, the Americanos in that café are quite good, especially by airport standards, would totally recommend. Though, granted, it was like 5 am and I would have drank lighter fluid if it would have woken me up.



Our hotel in Lviv, while cute, had no elevator--a problem, since our room was on the 5th floor. (I may be an obsessive step-counter who never goes on an escalator when there's the option of a staircase, but at the end of the day when you've been walking/carrying bags? Less fun.) We were relieved to see that this hotel does have one. In fact, it has all of the regular floors you would expect to see in a building, such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and crab.

1) Yes, I know what's on the crab floor.
2) No, you'll have to wait and see until tomorrow if it's any good.

Massive Odessa photo dump

Jul. 21st, 2017 10:33 pm
sabotabby: (magicians)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Sorry-not-sorry, but you will be getting a load of pictures of Odessa because it is fucking magical. My intention at the moment is to retire, sell my house, buy one of the dilapidated old buildings and restore it to its former glory, learn Russian (it's another city where most people speak Russian, not Ukrainian, much to our joy), and wander around the glorious streets at night in a fashionable dress, drinking an open bottle of champagne.

Life goals, amirite?

In all seriousness, though, not for nothing is Odessa called Paris on the Black Sea. It has all the architectural splendour and literary tradition you could hope for, it is cosmopolitan and fashionable, and it is lit. I have never been to Paris, granted, but from what I understand Odessa is much cheaper and not as crowded. In Kiev and Lviv, people are pretty much the same as anywhere else, except with a penchant for wearing poorly translated English t-shirts bearing inspirational but nonsensical slogans, expressions of general hatred towards anyone viewing the shirt, or just vague weirdness (my favourite so far was a picture of a cat made out of ramen noodles sitting in a bowl with the caption "Pet Food").

Here, though, everyone looks like a model. The women are all tall and thin and wear flowing striped dresses, and the children prance around in tutus at all hours of the night. The streets are alive with music and performers and what I'm pretty sure is a unicorn (i.e., incentive to look at the pictures under the cut).

plz appreciate how much I had to narrow these down )

Book meme!

Jul. 21st, 2017 06:46 pm
frandroid: A large sandworm in front of the fremen invoking him (Dune)
[personal profile] frandroid
Because I'm procrastinating. A bit on the cutesey side but whatever.

Wait, DW doesn't have a rich text editor?? I mean I usually prefer to enter my HTML manually, but here I could really use it. Motherfucker...

...

bold the ones that apply.

1. You currently own more than 20 books.
2. You currently own more than 50 books.
3. You currently own more than 100 books.

4. You amassed so many books you switched to an e-reader.
5. You read so much you have a ton of books AND an e-reader.
6. You have a book-organization system no one else understands.
7. You’re currently reading more than one book.
8. You read every single day.
9. You’re reading a book right now, as you’re taking this book nerd quiz.
10. Your essentials for leaving the house: wallet, phone, keys, and a book.
11. You’ve pulled an all-nighter reading a book.
12. You did not regret it for a second and would do it again.

13. You’ve figured out how to incorporate books into your workout.
14. You’ve declined invitations to social activities in order to stay home and read.
15. You view vacation time as “catch up on reading” time.
16. You’ve sat in a bathtub full of tepid water with prune-y skin because you were engrossed in a book.
17. You’ve missed your stop on the bus or the train because you were engrossed in a book.
18. You’ve almost tripped over a pothole, sat on a bench with wet paint, walked into a telephone pole, or narrowly avoided other calamities because you were engrossed in a book.
19. You’ve laughed out loud in public while reading a book.
20. You’ve cried in public while reading a book (it’s okay, we won’t tell).

21. You’re the one everyone goes to for book recommendations.
22. You take your role in recommending books very seriously and worry about what books your friends would enjoy.
23. Once you recommend a book to a friend, you keep bugging them about it.
24. If your friend doesn’t like the book you recommended, you’re heartbroken.
25. And you judge them. A little bit.
26. In fact, whenever you and a friend disagree about a book you secretly wonder what is wrong with them.
27. You’ve vowed to convert a nonreader into a reader.
28. And you’ve succeeded.
29. You’ve attended book readings, launches, and signings.
30. You own several signed books.
31. You would recognize your favorite authors on the street.
32. In fact, you have.

33. If you could have dinner with anybody in the world, you’d choose your favorite writer.
34. You own a first-edition book.*
35. You know what that is and why it matters to bibliophiles.
36. You tweet, post, blog, or talk about books every day.
37. You have a “favorite” literary prize.
38. And you read the winners of that prize every year.
39. You’ve recorded every book you’ve ever read and what you thought of it.
40. You have a designated reading nook in your home.
41. You have a literary-themed T-shirt, bag, tattoo, or item of home décor.
42. You gave your pet a literary name.
43. You make literary references and puns nobody else understands.
44. You’re a stickler for spelling and grammar, even when you’re just texting.
45. You’ve given books as gifts for every occasion: birthdays, Valentine’s Day, graduations, Tuesdays...
46. Whenever someone asks what your favorite book is, your brain goes into overdrive and you can’t choose just one. You end up naming twelve books.
47. You love the smell of books.
48. You’ve binge-read an entire series or an author’s whole oeuvre in just a few days.
49. You’ve actually felt your heart rate go up while reading an incredible book.
50. When you turn the last page of a good book, you feel as if you’ve finally come up for air and returned from a great adventure.



*: Most books are "first (and only) edition", so by that measure I own several; but for the sake of this question I'll assume that's a first edition of a book with multiple editions, where this edition has a higher market value.

no default

Jul. 21st, 2017 11:25 am
frandroid: Hammer and sickle logo, with the hammer replaced with a LiveJournal pencil (lj)
[personal profile] frandroid
I wish DW/LJ had a thing where there is no default icon and you're forced to choose one to make your post. I keep forgetting to pick one and then I don't want to trigger a useless edit notification for whoever is on the thread post-facto.

I went to take a look at the DW source. It's perl. No wonder no one wants to work on it. They should just restart from scratch. :P

ETA: So you can choose "no default" but instead of forcing you to choose, it picks none, and puts a DW logo watermark in the logo spot. *faceplam*

With apologies to Sergei Eisenstein

Jul. 21st, 2017 01:58 pm
sabotabby: (lolmarx)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We're in Odessa, about a 10 min walk from the !!!!!!!! Potemkin Steps.

Expect incoming photos for every day I'm here.

Srsly, I didn't even like Battleship Potemkin but I don't think a movie needs to be enjoyable to be arguably the most important movie ever made, with which we would not have our current cinematic vocabulary. I mean. I teach film. So naturally the first thing I had to do (well, after we had lunch and coffee because we were up at 4 am to catch the flight from Lviv) was brave the 30°C weather to bring you the following:





Don't mind me, I'll be over here geeking out hard/memorizing the angles in the scene so that I can do horrible imitations of them amongst all the tourists.

Forget alternative history.

Jul. 21st, 2017 09:31 am
ironed_orchid: painting of woman sleeping (Sleep)
[personal profile] ironed_orchid
I want an alternative evolution where humans hibernate in winter.

Of castles and bacon thieves

Jul. 19th, 2017 05:23 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Today we were incredibly productive. We hiked up to High Castle, which technically is neither a castle nor very high, but I am still proud of us, dammit. It's quite a view. Some of the original castle remains, but it's not particularly impressive compared to the sight of all of Lviv.

there are cats and other things )

Kurds

Jul. 18th, 2017 11:02 pm
frandroid: YPG logo, Syrian Kurdish defense forces (ypg)
[personal profile] frandroid
I gave a breathless 5 minute introduction to the Kurdish side of the Syrian Civil War after a prompt on my t-shirt at an NDP event tonight... Wheee. And I'm thinking of making a 10-minute presentation to my co-workers, because why the fuck not. Let's see where this predicator business goes... :P

In Lviv

Jul. 18th, 2017 07:13 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
This is a gorgeous city, maybe even more than Kiev. It's also very much a City Of Coffee, and I highly approve. There's a café where, if you go into the basement, you can "mine" for coffee in the walls, but besides that, when we asked the hotel guy where to get good coffee, he looked at us weirdly and said, "it's ALL good coffee." A random selection would suggest he's right.

We did a walking tour, saw various churches, the Catholic Quarter, the Jewish Quarter, the Armenian Quarter, all of which seem very close together by contemporary standards. Lviv has changed hands over its history, and the references to Galicia made me do a Google and feel like an idiot because Lviv was in the heart of what had been Galicia, and that's where my grandfather was from.

Anyway, here is the new friend we made:



more pictures )

Here, have some pictures of Lviv

Jul. 18th, 2017 09:03 am
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
We took the overnight train and got in at 6 am. Our hotel booking isn't until 2 pm, so we've just been wandering around and taking pictures of all the pretty architecture.

click to embiggen )

Some more pictures

Jul. 17th, 2017 07:02 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Our last day in Kiev until the end of our trip. Here's a few quick glimpses of things we've seen, as we walked and walked. This is going to be a bunch of tiny pictures 'cause I'm writing from a café before we get on a night train for Lviv.

click for larger versions )

Mezhyhirya

Jul. 16th, 2017 04:37 pm
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
[personal profile] sabotabby
Viktor Yanyukovitch was president of the Ukraine from 2010-2014, until he was fairly dramatically deposed and fled to Russia as he is currently wanted for treason here. By all accounts, he was incredibly corrupt, and acquired the massive Mezhyhirya estate with public funds. As wealth and corruption is no guarantee of taste, when asked which architectural style he wanted to build his massive palaces in, he must have replied, "fuckin' all of them," because when protestors walked in and took over the place in 2014, they were appalled not just at the excesses (which included a car museum, a zoo, a golf course, several tennis courts, and orchards), but at his alarming taste in decor.

It now belongs to the people and is a destination for Ukrainians to have weddings, bike around, and generally point and laugh. Also there are gigantic thrones and Greco-Roman ruins for no apparent reason.

pictures! )

Kiev, day 1

Jul. 16th, 2017 06:49 am
sabotabby: (gaudeamus)
[personal profile] sabotabby
I admittedly did little but eating and sleeping, as everyone is exhausted. We're staying right behind Maidan Nezalezhnosti, though, and even the laziest traveller could not fail to be moved by its beauty.



Post-2014 demonstrations, it is plastered with photos and memorials to the dead. No one goes out in Kiev this time of year except at night, when the fountains explode like fireworks and street musicians busk and young couples laugh and dance in the streets.











We grabbed dinner at an adorable café that, shock of all shocks, had food I could eat: mushroom kasha and vareniki stuffed with sour cherry, and sour cherry infused vodka.







Then exhaustion got the better of us and I probably slept more than I have in months. Awake bright and early now to do proper exploring.

P.S. Sorry for the size and quality of the images; DW's image hosting + being on my iPad makes for an unfortunate combination.







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