Sunday, 31 August 2014

Such a pleasant day

The weather today has been spectacular; see these views overlooking the Trent. I took these when out on a walk with my grandfather:

This beautiful weather isn't expected to last long, however; we're supposed to be receiving rain soon.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Fortunate observations

I went into Nottingham's city centre this afternoon with two of my cousins and the girlfriend of a cousin who wasn't present. I needed some new clothes (socks and a pair of pants), which was interesting because on every other shopping trip in Nottingham I'm accompanying others when they're buying clothes for themselves. We found the clothing I needed within the first forty-five minutes of our time together and we had a free afternoon to engage in other activities.

Near the end of the afternoon, we went into a bookstore. One of my cousins and I decided to sit down in the coffee shop area rather than look for books (prefer Kindles!). We had a little bite to eat when my other cousin and non-present cousin's girlfriend joined us. After chatting for a short while, we then left the bookstore.

Two minutes after we left the bookstore, I felt my pockets and noticed that my money, which I kept in a resealable bag, was missing. I checked all of my pockets and confirmed that my money was not on me; it had obviously slipped out while we had been sat at the coffee table. I rushed back to the bookstore to see if I could retrieve it. Fortunately for me, a waitress had found it and was talking about it to a fellow waiter and another customer. They noticed both me and my being out of breath, so when the waitress asked if the money was mine, I said yes and that I had rushed back up to find it. She untagged my money from the shop's missing items list and then handed it back to me; I hugged her to express my thanks (I also said thank you). Besides my obvious exhaustion, they also knew it was my money because it was in a bag and the waiter had seen me with the bag of money when I made my purchase.

I was fortunate for two reasons. One: when I'm out, I always check my pockets every five minutes; if something seems to be missing, I make the effort to find it (although one could say that I should have checked before I left the shop, but that was a brief lapse and I won't make that error again). The second was that the waitress found the money and was in the process of reporting it being missing; somebody less honest than her might have kept it for themselves.

Again, this is a mistake I'm not going to make for a second time; I usually check my pockets before I'm about to leave a place but I forgot on this occasion. I'm lucky that I was able to retrieve my money, and that waitress is an honest and kind soul.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Enrolled

My enrollment at the college took place this morning. I completed the final steps of the application (filling in another form, followed by having my picture taken for my student ID card) and was officially enrolled at the college. I'm relieved that the application process is now over; I have a few days to relax and prepare before I begin my lessons.

I have four classes per week, each on a different day, and each class is three hours long. I will write a little about them later, but for now I'll just say that my first class is next Wednesday. When I attend, it will be my first time being schooled under the British education system, as well as my first time being schooled outside homeschooling since 1997.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me since (and before) I had my initial interview in April. You've all been great.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Two river scenes

Here are two pictures from the walk Dad, my brother and I went on yesterday:

Both pictures look towards a weir on the River Trent. For the first picture, we followed a path along the side of the river until we reached a part where the path was blocked; in the second, we were on the view point near the weir. We watched a water bottle and a log get washed over the weir and into the white water.

I was disappointed to see a lot of trash on the path. Some of it had been washed from upstream, like the aforementioned water bottle, but much had just been thrown on the spot by litter-happy people.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Away from home in another home

My parents and brother left my grandparents' house less than an hour ago. They had been here all day but in the end, they had to return to Northamptonshire, whereas I'll be here in Nottinghamshire for the foreseeable future. Enrolment day at my college is on Friday, so I have one day to prepare.

Dad, my brother and I went for a lengthy walk this afternoon. Tomorrow, I'll post some pictures from the walk.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Final preparations

There's not really much to say. All day I've been making my preparations for tomorrow, which is when I move out of my parents' house here in Northamptonshire to my grandparents' home in Nottinghamshire. I've packed much more of my belongings than I usually do but as I've said before, the majority of my stuff is staying here.

I have a few final things to pack tonight and in the morning. I'd better get to it. More to come soon.

Monday, 25 August 2014

"Prayer in C" - Lilly Wood, the Robin Schulz remix

This is the Robin Schulz remix of "Prayer in C":


"Prayer in C" is by French pop band Lilly Wood (also known as Lilly Wood and the Prick). The song was originally released in 2010 from the band's first studio album, Invincible Friends. This year, German electronic producer Robin Schulz remixed the song and now it's number one here on the music singles chart I listen to.

Prior to hearing the remix of "Prayer in C", I had never heard of Lilly Wood, so I'm can't say that I know much about them! I will have to listen to the non-remixed version of this track.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Peacock butterfly

A peacock butterfly somehow got itself trapped in our recycling bin; fortunately, my brother rescued the butterfly by fishing it out with a stick; he had to use a stick because butterflies are too delicate to be touched by human hands. Upon entering the sunlight, the butterfly spread its wings:

The butterfly remained perched on this stick for about five minutes while its wings warmed up. It then flew off the stick and landed on the ground:

By doing so, the butterfly allowed me to take a few more pictures of it, this time from above it rather than to its side. After this brief rest on the ground, the butterfly flew away.

My brother and I are fortunate to have had this chance to see such a beautiful butterfly up close; we are also glad that we were outside at the time it needed rescuing.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

70,000

Air Nice-to-Livelands reached 70,000 views today; this comes after it hit 60,000 about three months ago. While some of the views have been generated by spam, the vast majority of them are from actual people. Once again, I'm happy that people are reading what I have to say. Thanks again, everyone!

This will be my last view count-based post until my blog reaches 100,000. It should hit that milestone by this time next year if views continue at their current rate.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Photo backlog cleared

This afternoon, I cleared my unsorted picture backlog. That's one less thing I have to worry about when I move to Nottingham next week!

Of course, my picture backlog is not all I've been doing these past few days. No, I've been readying myself for the move in other ways, such as by ensuring the belongings I want to take are all packed and that necessary documents are in order.

A task I have to do tomorrow is catch up on messages. I've been behind on replying to e-mails and commenting on other blogs. One might ask that if [I] am busy at college, how will I be able to keep up then? Well, it's called setting a time to reply to people; also, the hours I've been given for college are convenient enough for me to get things done before I go or after. I won't fall into backlogs!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

The Wikipedia badge

As part of my Wikimania package, I was supposed to receive a free t-shirt and bag upon entry to the event; however, because of the huge turnout (combined with my attendance on the final day) all of the "goodies" had gone. I did receive this fancy little badge, though, which is shaped in the form on Wikipedia's logo:

I also received an apology and a hug from the head of Wikimedia UK, which I didn't expect at all. As far as I am concerned, that hug was compensation! The material goods can be obtained elsewhere, but hugs are special.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Another set of old earbuds

In my current sorting out of my room, I came across something that I had long forgotten about: the set of earbuds I was given to keep (from the airline company) on my family's flight from the United States to Amsterdam. Where were they? Packed away in a bag that I once used as my main travel bag.

Prior to today, the only time I had ever used them was on the aforementioned flight so I could listen to the onboard entertainment system. I tried them in my phone this afternoon: they worked, but their sound quality is lower than that of my new earbuds; plus, they are extremely susceptible to the bug in my phone's headphone jack.

I won't be using these earbuds in my phone again. Instead, I'll likely use them with my Sweex Vici MP4 Player. One of the problems with my Sweex is the inability to lower its volume; these earbuds are naturally quiet, so the Sweex's problem will be a bonus in this circumstance.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Sorting out the room

Yesterday, I wrote about having to sort out a backlog pictures on my computer before I move. This afternoon, my mother and I spent some time sorting out my room; in particular, we sorted out my clothes. Most of them will be coming with me to Nottingham but some of my old clothes needed to disposed of: I had several old, hole-ridden t-shirts that I hadn't worn for years, a few long-sleeved shirts that were too small for me and a handful socks that were in ruins (given the age of my socks, it's impressive that more weren't a mess).

The reality of how close I am to moving out has not yet hit me. A possible reason why might be because I am going to live with my grandparents, rather than on my own or with non-family; even so, this is going to be a major change. I haven't felt many emotions throughout my college application process; no sadness, little excitement and little fear. It's strange.

There are still a few more things to sort out in my room. Most of the my belongings will remain here; it's important items like clothing, toiletries and electronics that I'll be taking. I will, however, be taking a few sentimental items, such as the framed pictures I have of our cats.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Picture sorting August 2014

I once again have a backlog of my recently-taken pictures to sort out, similar to what I had this time last year. I had over nine hundred pictures to rename but today I managed to cut that number down by about a sixth. When I go to Nottingham at the end of this month, one thing I do not want to bring with me is a backlog of my unsorted images on my computer. No, they all need to be sorted and backed up.

I don't expect to generate an image backlog when I'm in Nottingham; I doubt I'll be taking as many images as I normally do. Then again, I could surprise myself and end up taking loads!

Sunday, 17 August 2014

"Word Crimes" - "Weird Al" Yankovic

As everyone knows, I'm not a fan of doing two music posts near to one another, but I don't have much time tonight to write anything longer than a music post. Now, for tonight's feature:


It's "Word Crimes" by "Weird Al" Yankovic, taken from Mandatory Fun, his fourteenth studio album. The song is a parody of Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines"; the parody focuses on poor writing skills instead of sexual consent (or the lack of it). In my opinion, "Word Crimes" is the best version of "Blurred Lines" in existence: it does not carry any of the original song's controversy and it allows people who like the melody of "Blurred Lines", but not the lyrics, to hum it without feeling guilty. I know two people who despise "Blurred Lines" but love "Word Crimes".

The only controversy that stemmed from "Word Crimes" was Yankovic's use of "spastic" in the lyrics, as that word is considered offensive in some areas (it's sometimes used as a slur against mentally-challenged people). Yankovic apologized for using it.

I have long been a fan of "Weird Al" Yankovic. His work has been made more difficult in recent years due to the plethora of parody artists on YouTube, but Yankovic's works are almost always more clever and he's had hits in the past few decades, whereas most other parody acts rarely last beyond a couple of songs; also, he is an expert at creating parody songs that do not contain any profanity. He is a parody master.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

New earbuds

Two days ago, I wrote that my earbuds decided to call it quits while I was on my way to London. I also wrote that I was initially concerned that it was my phone's headphone jack that had failed, as the jack has this strange bug, which causes headphones to play in mono or not at all depending on the position of the plug inside the socket.

My new earbuds were delivered this morning. They worked, which was what I expected, but to my astonishment, they also worked properly no matter at what angle the earbud plug was positioned inside my phone's headphone jack. To my knowledge, this is the only pair of headphones that doesn't have to be positioned in a certain way inside my phone's jack; when my Hong Kong uncle gave me the phone, he mentioned that the only bug with it was its jack, and that all headphone and earbud sets he'd tried with it had been affected by the bug.

I have no idea why this set is immune to it. It could be because it's a brand new pair, but I am sure that my uncle said that he'd also tried new headphones and earbuds in the phone, to no avail. Whatever the reason, I am pleased; this is one of those small bonuses that make life a little bit nicer. I now no longer have to worry about the sound dropping out whenever I accidentally knock my phone while listening to music through earbuds!

Friday, 15 August 2014

"Charm Attack" - Leona Naess

A week ago, my friend and fellow blogger Kimberly (the friend who encouraged me to start blogging) shared this song:


It's "Charm Attack" by Leona Naess, a British singer; it is from her debut album, Comatised. The song was used in the film Whatever It Takes, which was where Kimberly said that she first heard it. I had never heard "Charm Attack" nor heard of Naess prior to Kimberly's sharing of the song; I will have to listen to more of Naess' work, as I like her song and her voice. Thirteens is her most recent album, which was released in 2008.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Dead earbuds

During my recent trip to London, I took my earbuds with me so that I could listen to some music while on the train. On the arriving journey, I listened to three songs without any problem, but then I briefly had to put the earbuds away. When I got the earbuds out again, the music coming through them was distorted. No matter how many times I adjusted my earbuds' plug in my phone's headphone jack, the sound did not improve. I ultimately gave up and completed the rest of my journey to and from London without any music.

I was concerned, however, that the problem was with my phone. My phone's headphone jack is slightly buggy in that if a plug is not inside it at a certain angle, it will only play in mono (or rarely, not at all). I was worried that the jack had failed completely; however, when I later tried my earbuds in my brother's and Dad's phones, and tried my brother's earbuds in mine, the problem was confirmed to be with my earbuds. The L-shaped connection area on them had been damaged and was the cause of the audio distortion.

Since then, a new pair of earbuds has been ordered to replace my old set. I sometimes use my phone as a music player and not having earbuds is annoying, especially if I'm on a train and don't want to disturb other people with what I'm listening to.

My earbuds weren't my only phone accessory that were affected that day. In the evening, when I was out by the lake at the Barbican Centre, my phone pouch blew out of my hands and into the water surrounding one of the fountains. I was able to retrieve the pouch but it was soaked; I put it in one of my pockets away from my phone in the hope that it would dry out. Fortunately, it did and the pouch is fine; it has no water damage.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

August cold

Today has not been fun. I've been sick with a bad cold and have spent much of the day cleaning or blowing my nose, and coughing. As usual, being sick has sapped me of most of my energy and I am exhausted. I was going to approve some recent comments, comment on some other blogs and reply to some e-mails tonight, but I think I'm about to have an early night instead. I'll reply to people tomorrow!

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Wikimania 2014 images

Here are some of my images from the final day of Wikimania 2014; I used my phone and my brother's camera for this photography:

I took this from the Barbican Centre's squared spiral stairs looking out; the domed building in the background in St Paul's Cathedral. I forgot to mention this in my previous post, but the venue for Wikimania 2014 was the Barbican Centre, which is a performing arts centre located in the City of London (the City of London is a separate entity to London itself; look it up and you'll see).

This is the guide to all of the Barbican's levels; I visited up to floor four and I think -1 was the lowest I visited.

This is the "village" from an above balcony. The village featured gift shops and a coffee shop, as well as representatives from several Wikimedia local chapters. Chapters help to promote Wikipedia on a local level.

These are two posters and a pillow within the village, which were located next to the desk for Wikimedia UK's representation at Wikimania 2014.

The two highest floors featured this refreshing conservatory. There weren't many people in the conversatory itself; instead, most were in the two nearby seating areas.

The Barbican's main hall as people awaited the closing speech. Shortly after the hall was filled, the audience was shown a short film about Wikipedia Zero. Wikipedia Zero is a project started by the Wikimedia Foundation to ensure that everyone in the world can access Wikipedia via their phones without having to incur any mobile/cell phone data charges.

The man of the hour: Jimbo Wales, there to deliver the closing speech. Much of his speech focused on the need to improve civility on Wikipedia; in particular, he talked about users who contribute large amounts of content but are hostile towards other people. Mr. Wales expressed his opinion that such users, while adding plenty to Wikipedia, are net-negatives to the site because they drive away others.

This is Ihor Kostenko, whom Mr. Wales announced as the "Wikipedian of the Year". He was Ukrainian and was a significant contributor to the Ukrainian Wikipedia, as well as a promoter of Wikipedia on social media; Kostenko was killed back in February when a sniper shot him during his participation in the Ukrainian protests.

These two women are Cynthia Ashley-Nelson (see bottom of link) and Adrianne Wadewitz, who were two highly influential and respected Wikipedians; both of them died this past April and their losses were felt throughout the community on the English Wikipedia. I thought it was fitting for a tribute to them to be included in Mr. Wales' speech.

After Mr. Wales' speech officially closed Wikimania 2014 and set the stage for Wikimania 2015 in Mexico, the rest of the evening and night featured a party. I met several more Wikipedians - including more people I'd known online for years - in the first two hours after the speech; most attendees left the venue during this time to eat elsewhere, so I was fortunate to meet as many as I did while I had the chance.

At last, I was able to see The Shard, which is the tallest building in the United Kingdom and European Union. I missed seeing this tower during my previous two trips to London but luckily for me, it was visible through a gap in the buildings near the Barbican Centre. This was taken after 7:00pm and, as you can see, it was still fairly light outside.

At around 9:15, I left Wikimania 2014 and the Barbican Centre; by this time, most people had already exited and everyone I knew had gone. I had to take a picture of Barbican Centre before I returned to my train station; this picture was taken with my phone on its low light setting.

I have numerous other pictures of Wikimania 2014, but I consider the overwhelming majority of them to be unsuitable to post here because they are either similar to the above or are close-up images of people, such as a few that I took in the diversity workshop and a few selfies with a friend. I was selective with my photography because I wanted to enjoy the conference rather than see everything with my cameras while experiencing nothing.

Finally, there is also this group photo of many of the conference's attendants (enlarged version here); it was taken just prior to Mr. Wales' speech. I am in the picture, but good luck trying to find me!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Wikimania 2014

The event in London I attended yesterday was the final day of Wikimania 2014. Wikimania is the annual conference held by the Wikimedia Foundation, the charitable organisation that maintains Wikipedia. Each year, the conference is held in a different city around the globe; in May 2013, London's bid to host the conference was successful.

I attended one session at Wikimania: a diversity/gender gap workshop. One of Wikipedia's problems is that male contributors to the site vastly outnumber women (nine-to-one, by official estimates, although I hope that women actually make up a greater percentage than that); the session discussed some ways to close the gender gap. I also attended the closing speech, which was given by Jimbo Wales, who is the founder/co-founder of Wikipedia.

Overall, I had a great time. I met people whom I've known or heard about online for many years and people whom I've already met offline. I still have to sort out my pictures; I'll post a few of them tomorrow.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

London visit August 2014

Time to surprise everyone with an early post this morning! I'm about to head out to catch a train; I will be spending the day in London and by the time I get back, it will be tomorrow and I won't have written a post for today if I hadn't done this one. I'm looking forward to going to London again; the last time I was there was March 2013 when I attended C2C: Country to Country at The O2 Arena with a friend.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

Boring and Dull

Boring in the United States and Dull in the United Kingdom are friends. Why? It's all in their names:


I think it's wonderful that a town in Oregon and a tiny village in Scotland celebrate their uninteresting names together. It's events like this that make the world a better place and - pun fully intended - make it more interesting. I'm also pleased to see that the comments on the linked article above are overwhelmingly positive about the friendship between the two places.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Sphere light

I took this picture during my recent stay in Nottingham:

It's a light. I've always liked these types of lights because they look like crystal spheres. Quite a few gardens use these lights; they're a pretty decoration during the day and provide useful illumination at night.

I was sure to take a similar picture to the one above and put it through the HDR filter on the Snapseed phone app.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

"Dollhouse" - Melanie Martinez

I only just (read: last couple of days) discovered this song while on YouTube:


It's "Dollhouse" by Melanie Martinez; the song is from Martinez's debut EP, titled The Dollhouse. Martinez was a contestant on the third season of the US version of The Voice; she was eliminated from the competition in the fifth week. Her coach was Maroon 5 singer Adam Levine.

I thought that "Dollhouse" was solely about a broken family attempting to appear perfect to the public, but according to Martinez, it's a metaphor for how people view celebrities as perfect and dislike it when stars err. I've read more than a few people describe the song and video as "creepy"; while I wouldn't use that particular adjective, I do think the video has a sinister vibe, although I still like it.

"Dollhouse" is an interesting song with an interesting video and is sung by an interesting person. I hope that we'll get to hear more from Melanie Martinez soon.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Spider's demise

Remember the spider in the bathtub, which fought a moth? I'm saddened to report that the spider has since died; my brother found its corpse in the tub a few days ago.

I hope that the spider's death was due to old age and not starvation. I note starvation because the tub doesn't seem like a decent place to catch insects for food.

I also hope that the spider had a happy life; I don't know if arachnids have any standards that define a "happy life", but if they do, I hope that the bathtub spider met them.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

English variation clarification

In my previous post, I posted a picture of a restaurant menu that I said featured both American and British English. My friend and fellow blogger Jessica asked if the American English was at the bottom of the menu. The answer? Yes, it was.

In the top-right corner of the menu,  the word "takeaway" is present, which is the British version of the term "take-out"; however, at the bottom, the menu proceeds to use the term "take-out". Quite interesting, don't you think?

Monday, 4 August 2014

Bloggers Blog Party - July 2014

I have six images for July 2014's Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party post:

Wednesday, 2nd July: This is a piece of moss that had fallen off the roof of our house. It was either a bird or the rain that knocked it.

Saturday, 5th July: I used the cheese grater on two lemons to generate zest and afterwards Mum squeezed the lemons' for their juices. The juices and zest were used in a lemon drizzle cake for Dad.

Thursday, 10th July: The rain ruined the anti-dog mess signs that the local primary school students created. Since this picture, the signs have been removed.

Tuesday, 15th July: This is a menu for The Circle, a restaurant in the Nottingham area; I took this picture when we went to see my Hong Kong uncle. Can you spot the use of American English on the menu?

Wednesday, 23rd July: You can't see them, but water vapours were rising from these ice cubes. It was a hot day and I needed a cold drink.

Saturday, 26th July: On the first day of my recent visit to Nottingham, my brother noticed several nests of flying ants in my grandparents' back yard. I don't recall any action being taken against the ants, for they posed no threat to the house.

Also, it's now been a year since I started making The Secret Life of Bloggers Blog Party posts on a monthly basis; the party itself is over a year old but I made them weekly in June 2013.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Back in Northamptonshire August 2014

I am now back in Northamptonshire after spending over a week at my grandparents' house in Nottingham. I have a little more college information to mention: on Saturday, an enrolment letter arrived in the mail. While I have a phone call or two to make first, all I need to do is sign this letter and send it back to the college. I will then attend the college's enrolment day late this month, which will coincide with when I move up to Nottingham. The times are changing!

As for last night's fireworks, they were spectacular. I have taken some pictures but they are not of the fireworks.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Nottingham Riverside Festival 2014

In about an hour or so, my East of England aunt and I will be attending the Nottingham Riverside Festival. We'll be meeting up with my Nottingham aunt and maybe one or two of my cousins.

I can't promise any pictures; the light levels will be low and I don't want to be taking lots of pictures when I should be enjoying fireworks. I'll see what I can do, though!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Lincoln moving

My East of England family arrived here last night. This afternoon, I went with them to Lincoln to help my cousin who attends university there move from student accommodation into a proper house. The job changed from moving only my cousin's belongings to moving the belongings of half of her roommates, but it didn't bother us because we were there and we had thr means to transport all of their items. In fact, I enjoyed the work; it was great exercise and then we got to see my cousin's house, followed by seeing some more of Lincoln.

I might have a picture or two to post later, but most of them are of my cousin's house and I'm not going to post them.