Tag Archives: Books

Sunday Smiles: (Don’t) stare into the sun

We’ve been treated to every weather multiple times every day for the past couple of weeks (so just like Scotland, but warmer).  We even had hail on Monday (it was 16°C outside, so I’m not sure what that was about).  Spring weather in Auckland isn’t turning out to be as lovely as I’d hoped.  According to my labmates this seems to be a particularly damp year and one of our technicians has been complaining that it’s November and she’s still in jeans instead of shorts.  Never mind El Niño and La Niña, I’m pretty sure my presence in a country is enough to attract all the rainy weather systems.

So in order to ignore the current simultaneous sunshine and downpour situation happening outside my window, on to this week’s Sunday Smiles:

  • I heard what may well be my favourite ever description of Boris Johnson on Russell Howard’s Good News: “How can you hate Boris Johnson?  He’s like a human bumblebee that’s swallowed a thesaurus.”  A very good point.  And also a brilliant mental image.
  • On Tuesday we were treated to a partial solar eclipse (you had to be in northwestern Australia to see the full eclipse).  I find eclipses terribly exciting, and since this one rather conveniently lined up perfectly with our coffee break we spent a good half hour looking at it through bits of x-ray and camera film that we’d scavenged from the lab and (unsuccessfully) trying to project it onto a piece of paper using various microscope lenses.  Obviously at no point did any of us look  directly at the sun, because that’s a really silly (and dangerous) thing to do.  Ahem.  This may well be the only time I’ve ever been happy about there being clouds since they decreased the brightness enough for our phones to be able to take photos.

  • I know the US elections are well and truly over, but I only just came across this Gangnam Style (you know that really annoying South Korean song that seems to be number 1 in the charts everywhere) spoof this week: Mitt Romney style.  It amused me, though having the tune stuck in my head was not quite as amusing.
  • I came across these photos of a winter light festival in Japan.  It looks utterly stunning, particularly the second one, and the fourth one which has dolphins (not real dolphins, just to clarify).  Just wow.
  • If you’ve ever pretend-thrown a stick or a ball for a dog then you’ll be familiar with the adorable look of doggy confusion.  I know it’s mean, but it’s a look that never gets old…  (Source)

  • Have you seen this new library in The Netherlands?  Apparently it’s been named ‘Book Mountain‘ and it looks rather amazing inside (it does look a little weird from the outside) and is full of natural light.  And books, obviously.
  • Speaking of books, I finished reading Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel this week.  It’s the prequel to her latest book Bring Up the Bodies which was awarded this year’s Man Booker prize.  Wolf Hall actually won the Man Booker prize in 2009, so no pressure for her next novel…  It follows Thomas Cromwell during Henry VIII’s divorce from Katherine of Aragon and marriage to Anne Boleyn and of course the huge schism with the Catholic church that resulted.  I really enjoyed it – it makes you think through what’s happening in the story since some thought processes aren’t explained straightaway and you do have to keep track of the characters and their various names and titles which are used interchangeably (it probably helps to have at least a rudimentary knowledge of that period of history) but I like that because it means you actually have to pay attention and think as you read.  I just had one gripe – I didn’t really like the tense that the book was written in.  I found it rather frustrating and a little confusing at times.  Despite that, I’ve added Bring Up The Bodies to my to-read list.  Have you read Wolf Hall?  What did you think?
  • After finishing such a tome, I started something completely different: Michael Pollan’s Food Rules which is a short little book and a quick read.  I was aware of Michael Pollan’s quote “eat food, not too much, mostly plants” since it gets bandied about a fair bit, but I’d never actually read any of his books.  Food Rules seems to sum up his general advice on eating well (I believe the nutritional science bases behind his statements are covered in his other books), though I must admit that so far, it’s mostly been common sense – don’t eat super processed foods, etc. – but he writes well so it’s an enjoyable read, and refreshing, too.

What made you smile this week?

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Sunday Smiles: A rather film-centric week

Thank you to those of you who commented last week when I floated my idea for Sunday Smiles, my new blog feature – it was encouraging and uplifting, and you guys are the best!  So I’m going to carry on with Sunday Smiles, and I’ve decided to make a little logo icon thingy for it (helloooo excuse for procrastination).

Before I launch into this week’s list of things that I enjoyed, discovered and that made me smile, I should mention that the Olympics Opening Ceremony hasn’t made the list because I haven’t actually watched it yet – due to the time difference, it was on at 7am here and getting up at that time on a Saturday wasn’t such an attractive option, and I figured it would be available to watch again online.  It turns out that you need a Sky subscription to watch it again online though, so hmmmm…  Bummer.  I’m hoping somebody at the lab will have a solution for me tomorrow.  Fingers crossed, because I’ve heard amazing things about it.

So without further ado, my Sunday Smiles this week are:

  • I discovered free fonts this week, specifically on FontSpace.  Now, don’t laugh at me too much, but I learnt this week that you can download free fonts to your laptop and they’re really easy to install.  How did I not know this before??  I always thought it was a super complicated thing and that you had a to be a computer genius to do it.  Turns out not.  So I got really excited and used new fonts for the Sunday Smiles logo (called, get this, ‘shark in the water’ – amazing or what?!) and for the annotations on yesterday’s Random Recipes post.  I think I need to get out more…
  • The New Zealand International Film Festival started this week (well, technically last weekend).  I saw the documentary The last dogs of winter (trailer here)at the beginning of the week, which was all about the Qimmiq – Canada’s indigenous eskimo dog – and the effort to increase the numbers and popularity of this rare breed which numbered just 100 in the 1970s.  Cue some stunning filmography, lots of adorable dogs and, my favourite part, the dogs playing with polar bears.  I know.  Amazing.  It made me really miss having a dog though. (Poster source)
  • Another entry thanks to the NZIFF – I also saw Entre les Bras/Step up to the plate (trailer here), which was about the handover of the family hotel-restaurant from celebrated chef Michel Bras to his son Sébastien.  It was so good to hear French spoken (even if it was with a strong Southern French accent, which I always find amusing) and see such beautiful and mouth-watering food.  It made me miss France and good cheese though, not going to lie.
  • This has clearly been a very film-centric week because I managed to finally catch The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel which I missed when it came out just after I’d moved here, but it was being shown at the little arthouse cinema in town this week.  I know I’m several months behind with this, but I absolutely adored it!  So well written and well made, and particularly hilarious for anybody who’s ever spent time with Brits abroad – the characters were all remarkably realistic. (Poster source)
  • Finally, I got to my desk on Friday to find A Game of Thrones (the book) sitting on my desk.  Best surprise ever.  I’d mentioned a few days previously that I really wanted to read the books but the library waiting list is massive, so I’m still (impatiently) waiting for a copy and one of my labmates had the same issue, so he ended up going out and buying the book and let me borrow it.  It’s just as addictive as the TV series, and I’m already 150 pages in…  Only 650 to go (it’s the paperback version and actually the size of a brick, though thankfully not as heavy).  I’m thoroughly enjoying it, even though I know what happens, and it’s interesting to discover the little differences between the book and the TV series, though nothing major so far.

What made you smile this week?

PS – For next week, I’ll work on being a little more concise (not one of my life skills, in case you hadn’t noticed).

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