Tag Archives: US elections

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 surprise and a relief

We acquired a new labmate this week – a Kiwi guy, which puts him firmly in the minority… twice.  I acquired a sudden keen interest in horse racing which lasted for the whole 3 minutes of the Melbourne Cup on Tuesday.  This may be more to do with the fact that it was an excuse to temporarily escape the lab and watch the race in the nearest pub than anything else.  And I lost $1 because the horse I picked in the sweepstakes didn’t finish anywhere interesting.  I won’t be launching myself into a gambling addiction any time soon.  I’m afraid not many funny things came my way this week, so today’s Sunday Smiles is rather short on content (I’ve made up for that with rambling though…).

On to this week’s (rambly) Sunday Smiles:

  • I went to the Armistice Day memorial service at the Auckland Cenotaph this morning and was rather surprised to discover that Prince Charles and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, were also in attendance.  I knew they were visiting New Zealand as part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations but I didn’t think they arrived until next week.  I’m clearly a poorly-informed subject.  They did a little walkabout afterwards and I was just close enough to manage a photo of each of them (I thought it only fair to let veterans get to the front to shake their hands, but apparently not everybody felt that way).  Aside from it being a sombre occasion, it was pretty exciting, I won’t lie.  I think I may be in the minority, but I actually really like Camilla.

  • Speaking of royalty and, by extension, the aristocracy, series three of Downton Abbey came to a close this week.  Goodness, it was a roller-coaster of a season and kind of all over the place, but still totally addictive.  I can’t wait for the Christmas Special!
  • Yesterday I headed across the Waitemata Harbour to Devonport to go climb Mount Victoria and North Head, both volcanoes on the North Shore of Auckland.  They aren’t particularly especially high – at 87m Mount Victoria is the taller of the two – but they make excellent view points, especially of Rangitoto, Auckland’s most recent volcano.  It was wonderfully sunny and warm yesterday so perfect weather for a little picnic lunch on top of a volcano (as you do).

  • I don’t know if you heard, but the US elections were held this week (it wasn’t mentioned much on the news).  Unlike the last elections the time zones were very much in my favour with the results coming in through the day rather than in the middle of the night.  Did you see Chris Rock’s hilarious (and swear-word-containing) endorsement of Obama?  From a rest-of-the-world point of view, I was mightily relieved that Obama has been re-elected.  And I was amused by many of the election-related memes that exploded across the internet, particularly the ones involving Sesame Street.  And then, once the election was called for Obama, we switched to Fox News in the lab, which turned out to be a great source of amusement (I’m a bad person, I know).
  • Still on the topic of the US elections, I can’t remember which of the debates it was but I’m sure you’ve heard of Romney’s infamous “binders full of women” quote.  Not only was it turned into a whole bunch of memes (this is my favourite), but I’ve just discovered that it bubbled over into Amazon’s review section as well.
  • To finish on an uplifting note, though still on the subject of the US election, apparently Obama’s victory Tweet became the most retweeted Tweet ever – a record previously held by… Justin Bieber.  Thank you Obama, perhaps there is some hope for humanity.

What made you smile this week?

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