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The BBC and Netflix are collaborating on a new CGI version of Watership Down, to debut on Netflix, and air on BBC1 in 2017. =:D Production hasn't apparently begun yet, but we can hope they'll release some stills along the way.

So, with last Saturday not holding new pony, I subconsciously gravitated toward finally catching up with EqG: Friendship Games. ^_^ It did prove a touch disorienting, with Twi being unfamiliar with her friends and Canterlot High, and a mute Spike - I wound up needing to peek at the closing moments of Rainbow Rocks to be sure I hadn't simply forgotten some crucial plot point. ^_^; Some particularly good musical numbers - I'll have to extract those as music videos for later enjoyment on the iPad. (I have a good little collection thereof. Maybe I'll list them under a cut, just for fun) I do find myself distracted by inconsequential points, though, like the way Vinyl was seemingly happily bopping away to the pre-Pinkie party, clearly not fuelling anybody, or Photo Finish's camera making a very film-advance sound on taking the shot of Sunset Shimmer's spelling bee defeat. (Not implausible, I'll admit - she could be a film fiend, but in that kind of light?) And Sunset's boots are gorgeous. Interesting to see the girls now have "alternate" versions of their footwear as well, ranging from ankle boots to trainers. (And no, you don't use flash at an outdoor sporting event. Not unless you're using some dedicated rig, like quad SB-900s synced together and aimed at the subject from afar, to help with exotic surfing shots. Yet they got the look of a long telephoto lens right, so I can only assume they're trolling =:)

Ah, so many wonderful moments.. AJ giving assistance to "enemy" Twi on the archery challenge was especially touching. (And not just because I was quite good at archery back at school =:)

Zootopia will see its video release rather earlier than I'd anticipated: June 7 2016. ^_^ And a forum posting suggests what might be in store by way of extras. Meanwhile, there's always Imagining Zootopia, a 45 min insight, and a 30 min Meet the Filmmakers session hosted recently at the Covent Garden Apple Store. (Worth checking up on events, if you have a large Apple Store nearby - great opportunity to enjoy some big names talking way more casually than you'll normally find, and in a fairly snug setting rather than some huge audience. The downside, of course, is you may need to get your reservation in early)

Ye gods! Everyone was speculating what kind of titles Nintendo would release, when the news first broke, and it wasn't a huge surprise that their first foray into iOS was Miitomo. Next, though, it's official: Animal Crossing! =:D I just really, really hope they aren't seduced by never-ending IAPs - it's really not the kind of game you want to have sullied by being turned into a money sink. Still a little way off, though - they're expected around October.

Of the radio stations I mentioned previously, I should perhaps highlight KLFM, out of Zagreb, with a particularly diverse portfolio including Medicine, Dan Stuart, and The Nightingales. You won't be regaled with the same old tunes here. =:D (And then there's following John Denver's "Annie's Song" with Ride's "Mouse Trap"..) Come to that, Athens' En Lefko is fairly diverse as well, though perhaps with a slant toward 20th Century music.

Yay! Back in the days when computers were made out of wood, I backed the Art Story film on Kickstarter - and on Friday, I received the poster. Which is gorgeous. ^_^ (Slightly damaged, unfortunately, down in the lower right - someone en route managed to rip out one of the anchored endcaps of the poster tube, catching that end of the poster in the process - but they're sending out a replacement next week, which is very kind of them)

A Spike episode? I was approaching "Gauntlet of Fire" with some degree of trepidation, but it turned out superbly. ^_^ Needless to say, I'm very much hoping this isn't the last we'll see of Ember. No new episode today, sadly.

A couple musical offerings I've enjoyed recently: General Mumble "M/L/P/R/M/X/E/P", being a highly processed bit of electronica based on various MLP songs. I'm normally not one for autotune, but here, it's been quite openly deployed, retuning the harmonies entirely, turning the tracks into quite novel reworkings, far beyond the usual additions of bass/rhythm. And, tallulahgoodtimes "SwangYoThang2", a refreshingly punchy bit of electroswing.

So, we'll apparently learn of the Doctor's new companion this evening. [ETA: it's Pearl Mackie - and the teaser is well worth watching!]

I mentioned Star Billions the other week - and having completed Season Two, I've got to recommend it. ^_^ Here's a good interview with the developers, going into the design choices, and even how people wound up reacting to the AIs on offer, from the gung-ho SARGE, to the conciliatory LACIE.

Actually completely SFW is the Wikipedia entry for tendril perversion. ^_^

In the "battery technology that may actually see deployment in the next decade" department, a novel system using encapsulated nanowires. It's not about energy density, so much as lifespan - where current batteries keel over after a couple thousand cycles, this holds the promise of extending that into the hundreds of thousands, making for a battery that might never need replacing.

Interesting.. it looks like Apple is finally going the Netflix route, and preparing for developing original TV programming: "The [Sundance] iTunes Lounge was in fact part of a stealth effort by Apple to establish a new, more active role in delivering entertainment. In the weeks that followed, Apple execs were in Los Angeles hearing pitches for original TV series that it plans to launch on an "exclusives" app on Apple TV and within iTunes. Apple wants to work with "triple A-list" talent, according to a source, and build up a roster of must-see shows available only on its platform. Naturally, the talks have been veiled in the utmost secrecy. Producers who have met with Apple will refer to it only as the United Fruit Company." If those involved are indeed eyeing Netflix as their model, I'd love to see a similar degree of adventurousness, considering they've brought us the likes of Orange is the New Black, Transparent, and Jessica Jones.

While catching up (well, sort of - I started with the archive from a random point in 2011, rather than the very start, in 2004) with Questionable Content, as mentioned by lovelyangel, I noticed one of the artist's shirts available for sale: All My Vices Are Devices, which seemed like it might appeal to a few folk. =:) (And, don't tease robots)

Nice to see: (most of) IDW's comics are DRM-free. So, that's MLP taken care of - I wonder if Boom have similar plans, so I can maintain a fully portable Lumberjanes library. ^_^

Some background into Aretha Franklin's legendary "Respect".

Looks like an interesting little FOSS OS X utility: Background Music: "Automatically pauses your music player when other audio starts playing and unpauses it afterwards; Per-application volume, boost quiet apps; Record system audio"

It's an ugly webpage, but there's a lot of lesser known Bill Watterson art to be found, some from before his rise to fame, and even some afterward.

I do hope Beats 1 expands into multiple channels at some point. *sigh* They do offer some excellent shows, like The Candy Store with Charli XCX, but for much of the time, I can't listen to literally more than a track or two without hip-hop coming into the mix, sending me scampering off to En Lefko, The Flip, KLFM, Amy's FM, or Power Ponies. (I love how international net.radio is. ^_^ They're Greek, French, Croatian, French, and Czech respectively) The downside with all of them, inevitably, is the advertising - cue rapid switch to any of the others. Beats 1's is, thankfully, the least intrusive, amounting to an occasional "made possible by", taking a couple seconds. Consequently, I still wind up revisiting my own music collection a lot of the time - it may be familiar, but I can just settle into a groove, without having something disrupting that after a few minutes. =:/
Having been reminded by huskyteer that there was indeed an earlier adaptation of "My Family and Other Animals", I set about comparing them - at least, as far as I can, given the ITV version is ongoing, and only up to its second episode at the moment. It's proving to be quite a contrast! They're clearly from the same work, but the tone is quite different: ITV's is pronouncedly about the people involved, whilst the BBC's was a lot more accommodating about the wildlife observations he made, with some excellent photography along the way. Of course, now, I have to read the books - which, from what I recall of the readings by my biology tutor back in the Jurassic, will not be any burden. =:)

If you want to watch a film, where will you be most likely to do so, and why? Are you an avid cinemagoer, or are you more inclined to wait for the home releases? Is that because of cost, or the comfort and choice of munchables/drinks at home? For me, if I'm to be lured to a cinema, it helps a lot if there's something special about the place - cookie-cutter multiplexes.. well, aren't exactly brimming with personality, let alone the food and drink. On the other paw, there are places like The Little, over in Bath, crammed into a central Georgian nook, or the fabulous Castro Theatre, with just one screen, and genuinely a big screen, with ornate 1920s movie palace decor all around. The cost is certainly an issue, too - it's easy to spend not much less on a single ticket than for a copy you can watch as many times as you like, and home cinema setups now can be quite impressive, with an excellent choice of cider, beer, and wine to accompany. =:)

Gently wonderful: what does a bicycle look like? An easy question, you might think - and so, a designer collected people's sketches of bikes, and produced realistic renderings of them. "Some did get close, some actually nailed it perfectly, but most ended up drawing something that was pretty far off from a regular men’s bicycle. Little I knew this is actually a test that psychologists use to demonstrate how our brain sometimes tricks us into thinking we know something even though we don’t."

From the dev behind "Papers, Please" comes a playable demo ("It's not meant to be a proper demo of the final product but it's probably safe to extrapolate from here. Barely tested and possibly full of bugs. Progress is not saved.") of their latest project, Return of the Obra Dinn, with graphics this time in glorious 1-bit. "Obra Dinn's demo starts with players pulling a rowboat up to an abandoned ship, which they board and walk around in search of treasure. The only thing on the ship, it turns out, is a crummy old pocket watch, but before getting off the ship, players come to realize that the watch can be used to discover ghost skeletons—and replay the moment in which each person died over a century earlier."

The £1 coin will be changing in 2017, commencing in March, with a six month switchover. The newcomer is a dodecagon - twelve sided - and bimetallic, similar to the £2. Apparently, counterfeiters are a touch too adept with the current design, with around 3% (!) of current £1 coins being fakes.

I'm pleased to note that Zootopia is 2016's biggest grossing film worldwide, at $854m, followed by Batman v Superman with $787m, and Deadpool at $757m. And deservedly so. ^_^ And speaking of which, this interview with Ginnifer Goodwin is worth a (sadly brief) read, confirming the story evolved quite a bit - hopefully, the home release's extras will explore that, as Wreck-It Ralph's did. The same site also talked with the directors about the selection of species for the stars, and the challenges involved in maintaining scale.

How good can Second Life look? This good. ^_^ A scene from the long-running Insilico sims, by Stark Osterham, "Ghost Whisper":

For pony folk: an interesting post on translation of one of the show's songs, "Hearts Strong as Horses". Of course, when you're translating a song, the difficulty elevates - the tune can't change, so the number of syllables you've got to play with is (more or less) fixed beforehand.

As for the new season: the opener I overall enjoyed, but felt the pacing to be quite uneven, and I'm unsure as to why Sunburst exhibited such retiscence at being deemed a wizard, when he clearly was just that, and very much so. The baby scenes were surprisingly well handled, leading into some good, old fashioned chases, not to mention the pivotal plot point. ^_^; "The Gift of Maud Pie" was a relatively simple episode, and ultimately, wonderfully charming. "On Your Marks" felt somewhat uneven, and relied upon an awkward misinterpretation, but had some definite highlights, with the ending resolving surprisingly well.

An interesting tale, and one with - we hope - a happy ending, of some people in the middle of nowhere in Kansas, who started getting angry calls, letters, and visitors, for no reason they knew of. It turns out to be the result of one company's widely used geolocation database - for the most part, quite useful, within limits. But where they don't have any accurate location data, they use defaults - and a very popular one happened to be where they lived, pointed to by some 600 million IP addresses.

Tuesday saw some.. well, unscheduled rabbiteering, turning out to be something of a blessing in disguise, as the forecasts had been suggesting it'd be Wednesday with the better sun during the afternoon and evening, when it turned out to be largely rather cloudy. And because I happened upon this group of tinybuns, gathered by one of the warren's entrances, sufficiently cool with my presence as to allow me to pass by (eventually =:) without feeling the need to seek refuge. Indeed, I was close enough at this point that I've only cropped the photo slightly vertically. To be that close, and tolerated by my subjects (so to speak, not that I would have any objections to being Queen of Leporines =:), is indeed a touching and humbling moment. ^_^

And in a "what a world we live in!" moment, we now have Flappy Bird ported to an e-cig.
So, ITV's adaptation of Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals" is underway. With such source material, the outcome could hardly fail to be engaging, and indeed, those 45 minutes passed in an instant, with superb performances from all, not to mention the incomparably gorgeous scenery of Corfu. Well worth tracking down on your favorite sites, or indeed, watching "live" at 8pm on Sundays.

Well, now. Is this not pretty much the ultimate t-shirt? ^_^ (It appears to be their daily special, though, possibly only available for another few hours) Many, many thanks to huskyteer. ^_^

Until April 25, SF's Civic Center is host to five giant luminescent bunnies. =:D

Music video of the week: Miike Snow "Genghis Khan", a wonderfully whimsical yarn, in the style of 60s spy thrillers. (Their The Rabbit is a brilliantly catchy track, even if only fleetingly featuring a bun. At least of the furry kind =:)

And iOS game of the week: Star Billions. Take a planetwide apocalypse and a lost spaceship, and you have the perfectly logical basis for a spaceborne version of Animal Crossing, with adorable alien AIs as your villagers. ^_^

How and why would you make extremely strong coffee? "At some point, all of us start wondering how much coffee we can drink before our hearts explode. This typically happens when we are up, very late, in college with either the panic of a final the next day or have nothing particularly better to do than try to achieve acute caffiene poisoning. What do you mean you haven’t done this? Liar. You’re letting yourself down and making Baby Jesus (ten time running All American Most Valuable Jesus) cry."

And thus began the author's experimentation into Ludicrous Caffeination.

"Figuring that this was going to be long night of cramming before the test, I collected everyone’s No-Doze and broke out the espresso maker. At 8pm I prepared a bowl of macaroni, popped two No-Doze, and washed it all down with the first quadruple mocha of the evening. Around 1am, I figured I’d better repeat the 8pm dosage. At 4am, I had two more No-Doze. At 6am, worried that I wasn’t feeling any caffeine kicking in, I popped four more and had another pot of espresso. The fact that I was still awake at 6am should have been a hint to me but I’d sailed far beyond the horizons of sanity by that time. The final began at 8am.

I sat in the front row of Thimann Lecture Hall 3, right leg bouncing. I was politely asked to take a quick lap around the building as I was vibrating the entire row of firmly bolted chairs. I then sat down for my test and completed the three hour exam in a mere twenty five minutes, scoring a 93%. I then had lunch with same friend mentioned in the “Origins of Funranium” car ride, introduced her to Sempervirens Falls in Big Basin State Park, drove back to my apartment and then promptly collapsed into bed, sleeping for 23 hours. I woke up with a more fiendish hangover than I’d ever experienced before or since. The body does not appreciate overexposure to caffeine any more than it does to alcohol. I didn’t touch a cup of coffee again for over a decade."

But that merely sowed the seed for what was to follow..

"Fast forward 14 years. An acquaintance working and living in Japan went on holiday and discovered a bar with this exceptionally beautiful rig for the preparation of Viennese Triple Cold Extraction Coffee. Upon sampling this, he felt that, and I quote, “I could see colors that weren’t in the visible spectrum, and could vibrate through walls.” I looked at this I said to myself, “Hey, you’ve got enough virgin laboratory glassware lying around the house that you could probably build something like that.” Probably several somethings, actually, but that’s beside the point."

The whole tale is fabulously entertaining, working on the right grind (and what happens with too fine a grind, as with Turkish style), and the first human trials.. and yes, you can buy the results. If you really enjoy coffee, I'd love to hear your experiences with it. ^_^ (Me, I doubt it'd make it through Customs)

Good news on the renewable energy front: wind and solar are seeing double the investment in capacity over fossil fuels. As you'd expect, as solar prices fall, installations soar.

Some great political musical fun, courtesy of German broadcaster ZDF: Be Deutsch! [Achtung! Germans on the rise!].

Okay, I'm curious.. how many of the comics I follow do you too? (Oog. I apologise to my English tutor. Though I suppose she got her revenge when I attempted, as a homework assignment on summarising a book, to distill The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)

Poll #2041842 Comics!

Which of these daily comics do you follow?

Sinfest, which many of you already know. ^_^
Skin Horse, about a Black Ops team in charge of social services to sapient non-humans.
Scary Go Round, an evolving slice-of-life series brimming with dry humor.

Which of these at-least-weekly comics?

Inhuman Relations, the world of some New Jersey locals, with more than a nod to Walt Kelly.
Scandinavia and the World, Humon's personifications of Nordic and other nations.
OGLAF (sometimes very NSFW!)
Collar 6 (sometimes NSFW)
Robot Hugs, being deeply considered musings on life, society, sexuality, and more.
Never Satisfied, regarding a group of aspiring young magicians and their familiars, in a gorgeously realised Mediterranean-like town.
Snarlbear, a beautifully vividly colored fantasy tale.
Peritale, about a fairy alone in being flightless, but with implacable ambition regardless.
Swords and Sausages, comedic fantasy.
Kappa, in a world of undersea civilisations.

Which of these occasional comics?

Happle Tea, taking unorthordox angles on mythical figures.

And finally, which of these comatose strips?

The Abominable Charles Christopher, one of the most gorgeously drawn and conceived webcomics ever, sadly lain dormant.
Yay, finally, Summer Time again! And with it, much more sensible evenings, and buses with seats available on the way back from rabbiteering. ^_^

The peanut gallery is suggesting Flickr may be for sale, as part of Yahoo's efforts to trim down to a few core businesses. I'm hoping its future is bright - there isn't really anything else like Flickr. There are certainly plenty of places to simply host images, but Flickr's communities aren't easily replicated; as good a venue as 500px is, it's much more Tumblr-like, in being a place to present one's work, without discussion or community. Also, if you use(d) some of the older features of Flickr, there's an interesting little hack available: Stig's Flickr Fixr, bringing back notes, the album sidebar, and more. It's installed using Greasemonkey (for Firefox) or Tampermonkey (Chrome et al).

How's this for a fairly amazing Judy Hopps cake? =:D (By Zoe's Fancy Cakes. Warning: Facebook) Or, maybe something a little more classical, like this gorgeous Peter Rabbit cake, by Cake Central member peterrabbit?

joe_haldeman offers up an inspiring example of the salaries open to aspiring scholars. *cough*

Scientists Slowly Reintroducing Small Group Of Normal, Well-Adjusted Humans Into Society. We can only hope.

FLCL is getting a sequel, of two six-episode seasons, somewhere in 2017 or 2018.

Saw the recent Peanuts flick, and rather enjoyed it! Blue Sky indeed kept to the spirit of the strip with the writing, and crafted an interesting visual middle ground between the 2D original and a 3D CG world. If you enjoyed the strip, this is worth seeing.

iOS game of the week: Dream Machine. At first glance, it recalls the excellent Monument Valley, but it's its own thing entirely, being more of a platformer puzzler. And hey, for 99¢/79p, you really can't go wrong.

If you're wanting to play with the bleeding edge of Safari, the WebKit team's just announced Safari Technology Preview, with updates served up every fortnight. Currently, new goodness includes ECMAScript 6, a new JS JIT compiler, and more. (OS X El Capitan only) They do make note of the existing nightlies: "You may already be familiar with the WebKit Nightly, which serves a purpose similar to that of Safari Technology Preview. For most people, we think Safari Technology Preview is a more convenient and stable way to live on recent WebKit changes. Unlike the nightlies, Safari Technology Preview supports the full set of iCloud-based Safari features, including iCloud History and iCloud Tabs. And we’ll use the time between Safari Technology Preview releases to curate and test updates to a point where we think developers will find it practical to use as their primary browser."

The buns, I'm delighted to report, remain thriving, and as feisty as ever, especially with the wannabe suitors of the does all but begging for consent, persistently following, sometimes trailing them, sometimes oh so subtly edging up to them. The more forthright bucks, however, take to the delights of spraying, which, judging by their immediate and vigorous efforts to perform emergency grooming, they enjoy about as much as one might expect. So, take one such buck, and add sufficient derp to land on their aim of desire..

dronon shared quite a little gem with me: this advert for a power company, produced by Studio Ghibli, in the style of the legendary Chōjū Giga scrolls. Anime News Network goes into the background and meaning of the spot.

Or for something a little further from home, something rather nifty: the birth of a supernova. Kepler managed to catch the a red supergiant at the very moment of its explosion into its new, massive state. You can watch it for yourself, sped up from its original two hour duration, in a brief animated reconstruction.

iOS game of the week has, of course, to be King Rabbit - Find Gold, Rescue Bunnies. It's essentially a continuation of Furdemption - adorably animated, and very nicely crafted, with levels that gently ramp up in difficulty.

If you indulge in photography to any degree, you might be interested (or perhaps disappointed) to learn of the latest twist in the Nik Collection - once a suite of plugins from the original developer, then picked up by Google and sold much more cheaply, they're now completely free. Which, given the software's recent update history, may suggest it's now on legacy support only. Still, they're decent plugins, available for OS X and Windows. And hey, I can't complain about legacy software, given I'm still rocking Aperture. =:)

If you have any old USB sticks kicking around, consider donating them to Flash Drives for Freedom. They'll erase them, put films and books of use on them, and smuggle them into North Korea - some by balloon, some by individuals sympathetic to bringing some of the outside world into the country. The Guardian explains more.

If you're interested in producing animation, the new owner of Toonz - used in productions including The Wind Rises, Ponyo, and Howl's Moving Castle - has announced that it's going free and open source as of today, March 26 2016. Details over here. "OpenToonz will include features developed by Studio Ghibli (*Toonz Ghibli Edition) which has been a long time Toonz user. Through OpenToonz, Dwango will create a platform that will aim to have research labs and the animated film industry actively cooperating with each other. With this agreement in place, Digital Video will move to the open source business model, offering to the industry commissioning, installation & configuration, training, support and customization services while allowing the animators’ community to use a state of the art technology at no cost." [ETA: GitHub repository ahoy!]

And speaking of animation, April and the Extraordinary World ("Avril et le monde truqué") looks like being quite something. And, 2017 will hold a Big Hero 6 TV series. ^_^

Signs that we are living in the future #8468: seeing a headline in the Telegraph (a conservative-leaning UK broadsheet), "Microsoft deletes 'teen girl' AI after it became a Hitler-loving sex robot within 24 hours".

So, I got to fiddle with the roomie's new D5500. =:) It quite surprised me to find how much of a weight difference there is, with the newcomer feeling substantially lighter - true, quite a different lens (the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6, whereas I usually leave the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 on), but still.. and lo, Wikipedia confirms the D5500 comes in at 470g, vs 675g for the D7100. I do like the touchscreen, and the fully articulated display is very nice, with not even the D500 matching that. I do miss the dual control wheels, though - I'm almost always in manual, auto ISO, with shutter speed on the rear and aperture on the front wheel.

Tim Burton's got a new flick coming in September: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Definitely looks rather good fun. ^_^

In a welcome move, the folk behind San Diego Comic Con, that little neighborhood affair that some people turn up to, have realised that, huge as it is, there are still way more people who'd love to see what's going on, but can't afford to do so. So, they're soft-launching Comic Con HQ on May 7 2016, in preparation for the full ad-free subscription-based service in June, which will:

“provide a year-round destination to enjoy all facets of the community and access the vast diversity of content the world has come to expect from the largest and longest-running pop cultural celebration of the year.”

This content will include daily and weekly unscripted shows with news and views on pop culture from former G4 hosts Adam Sessler and Kevin Pereira; a scripted comedy series called Kings of Con starring Supernatural’s Richard Speight and Rob Benedict; a reality competition hosted by Her Universe founder Ashley Eckstein which will follow contestants designing geek couture concepts for a live fashion show at San Diego Comic-Con in July; as well as “a highly-curated selection of film and TV genre titles, and behind-the-scenes access and bonus features from genre titles that defy and define pop culture.”

In terms of content surrounding Comic-Con International itself there is a promise of “airings of select Comic-Con panels” as well as live-streams of cosplay contest the Masquerade and the Eisner Awards.

It'll initially be usable via the web, and native iOS and Android apps, with the likes of Apple TV and Roku planned for June. They're not saying anything yet about pricing. =:/

Friday saw some very nice weather, and with the outlook for the coming week or so looking quite dull and damp, I natually seized the opportunity to go rabbiteering. And they were not only out and about in good numbers (I counted 22 at one point!), but even occasionally obliging with some leporine acrobatics. ^_^

Someone was given exceptionally (or maybe not) poor service by Vodafone, so, in order to try getting some actual resolution, she wrote a very short play, and sent it to the CEO.

I finally picked up a new coat. ^_^ I'd wanted to for a while - more choice is always a happier state - but the old one sort of wound up insisting, for which I'm grateful. =:) And lo, I found the perfect successor. Or at least, a start. ^_^ I was quite bored of the old black look, so this shining white's a distinct refreshment, and the furry hood trim does come in very handy in rabbiteering, when there's a stiff, chilly wind. (Which the buns appear not to mind. As I maintain, they're remarkably hardy sorts, worthy of respect)

Zootopia exceed my expectations. ^_^ The animation was, seriously, as good as you've ever seen, with such detail to attention in subtle facial expressions, let alone the comedic timing - and the two stars do indeed show off real screen chemistry, despite it being all CG. The writing backs it all up - sharp, witty, and deftly managing to speak to adults and children at the same time, heading into a somewhat more serious phase as the film progresses. And I commend Disney for that - Doctor Who is no stranger to the darker side of life, and has been a companion to viewers of all ages for fifty odd years now - but it's still refreshing to see such them actually gradually shift their focus away from being primarily toward children. It's understandable that they wouldn't leap into such a move, given how deeply ingrained the concept is that "cartoons are for kids". (One favorite line, from the Chief to our newly minted star, "Life's not just some musical where you break out into song and all your insipid fantasies come true. Let.. it.. go." =:) And yes, okay, I'll accept the lapine star doesn't hurt the film in my estimation. *grin* Genuinely, I can recommend this highly. (And as a side note, check out co-director Rich Moore's credits, particularly the older ones: Futurama, including the pilot, and the Simpsons, including Marge vs the Monorail!)

Food recommendations of the week, this time from M&S. ^_^ They do seem to try to offer crisps that aren't just the same usual thing, and their Scottish langoustine variety is genuinely a delight, paralleled by the pork, cider, and sage variety. The chicken & mustard is less impressive, though still entirely enjoyable. They're about the only major retailer I'm aware of offering soft-boiled Scotch eggs - and they're very good, genuinely runny, with nicely peppery sausage meat wrapping them. But the star of Saturday's haul has to be the six-pack of sausage rolls, with Davidstow Cheddar, and air dried smoked bacon - they are, tragically, as poor as diet aids as you'd imagine; happily, they're also every bit as delicious as that sounds. ^_^;

There are many, many films I haven't seen yet, with no shortage of modern and older classics; so, I was very pleased to finally get to enjoy Hellboy last Saturday night. =:D It's what I'd have expected from Guillermo del Toro on his best (well, okay, Pan's Labyrinth was his best. The mecha outing.. ah, why can't we get Evangelion on the big screen?), with Ron Perlman being the perfect choice, even if I'll always first associate him with The City of Lost Children.

Well, now to see where the problem with my current photography RAID lies. =:P I was trying to copy the most recent Aperture library over to it (at some 90GB, I felt it was becoming a tad heavy =:), when the copy simply stalled. It wouldn't cancel, and digging a little showed it had basically hung - it wouldn't eject, nor even force eject. So, of course, when I restarted, the RAID began an automatic rebuild - which failed at 15%, with one of the drives going offline. Tried again, and failed at 6%. It could be an actual drive fault (and yes, both drives are the same maker, ordered at the same time, yay), but, in the hope it's actually just a cable issue, as both cables have been *cough* nudged - okay, kicked - a little, I ordered two replacements, which just arrived. So, here goes.. [ETA: cautious optimism. ^_^ The rebuild went without a hitch, and I copied that library over also without any trouble. Comforting. ^_^ Next step, I think, needs to be a remote backup]
I imagine many of you, if not all, will have at least tried the classic leeks preparation in a mildly sweet white, somewhat peppery white sauce. My advice, at this juncture, is to add a dash of cheap Armagnac and Bailey's late in the cooking, for a sumptuous result you'll love. ^_^

If you're in the UK, and have been waiting for Zootopia (or indeed, Zootropolis), check your local listings - whilst it's not officially opening until Mar 25, the local place appears to be running advance screenings over the weekend, on at least three screens. =:D Anyone who's seen it: is its use of 3D worthwhile? I'm inclined to see it in 3D, given it's CG, rather than the 3D added in post-production, as is the case with many live-action productions.

As jriendhal says, "Why can't they bring back the woolly mammoths? They're probably as trainable as elephants and they're all cute and fuzzy. But nooooo. Gotta bring back t. rexes and velociraptors every fricking time."

ObLucre: if anyone's interested in the D5500 kit, the current best offer is £380, courtesy of the roomie.

Now, this could be a potentially cool development in the music copyright wars between rights holders and DJs: Dubset analyses mixes, and will "identify existing recordings within the file, pay the necessary rights holders, and distribute the mix through Apple Music and other streaming services", paying the DJ some percentage as well. Seems like a potentially sane solution. ^_^ It'll be interesting to see if SoundCloud adopts this approach, rather than the "all guns blazing" crackdown rigelkitty noted a while back.

Yay, MasterChef is back! Next Wednesday - Mar 23 2016 - at 8pm, BBC 1. Looks like they're following a three episodes a week schedule, Wed/Thu/Fri, of 1h/1h/30m.
If you're willing, I'd like to invite you to read this entry by momentrabbit, on life after their pup, Dotty.

So, VancouFur recently took place. Unknown to anyone beforehand, the con hotel turned out to also be one of the Canadian government's venues for temporary housing of Syrian refugees. There were concerns that there might be something of a culture clash. What happened?

"One of many highlites [sic] to me was when the new group of Syrian Refugees children came in and got to interact with us. To them we were cartoons come to life, to us was a means to display our acting performance to a very appreciative audiance [sic]. Win win all around. The parents interacted too and took photos with us as well, so kewl."

"The interactions between our attendees and the Syrians were amazing," Trapa Civet, Vice Chairman of VancouFur told Mashable in an email. "I feel like the moment was just as magical for the performers as it was for the refugees."

Civet said they said advised attendees to be respectful of the refugees and even went to the trouble sending letters to the refugees translated into Arabic inviting them to join. The two groups crossed paths on Sunday morning.

In the end, they said, there was no shock at all but, rather, fun: "It is always a amazing feeling to see the expression of glee in a child's eyes in response to your costume and actions. Even the adults chose to jump in and get some hugs from our animal friends."

xyzzysqrl would like to share his wolf armor with you. =:D

A prog from BBC3 that might be of interest to some: Daft Punk Unchained: "This documentary explores this unprecedented cultural revolution, revealing two artists on a permanent quest for creativity, independence and freedom. Between fiction and reality, magic and secret, future and reinvention, theatricality and humility, The Robots have built a unique world. The film combines rare archive footage as well as exclusive interviews with their closest collaborators who talk about their work with Daft Punk, including Pharrell Williams, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers and Michel Gondry."

The new Ghostbusters trailer is out! I am so looking forward to this. =:D

The New York Review of Books' feature, The Fierce Courage of Nina Simone is well worth a few minutes of your time. And on a rather different note - not that I've seen it myself yet - Mad Max: Fury Road, reviewed by the writer's 70 y.o. mother-in-law.

Serenity Caldwell reviewed the iPad Pro & Apple Pencil in appropriate style: drawn entirely thereon. ^_^ (I must remember to ask shatterstripes if she's tried them out yet) It does indeed sound like a very attractive option versus a Cintiq. Still not seeing what she means by her handwriting being "not great", though. ^_^

We stumbled upon quite the hidden cinematic gem on Friday night, Moonwalkers. ^_^ The roomie's discovery, but we both thoroughly enjoyed it. How does this tickle you? Ron Perlman is a CIA agent, tasked with getting Stanley Kubrick to shoot some "moon landing" footage, just in case the real landing doesn't work out. He winds up securing the services of a hack actor playing Kurick and a hopeless agent (Rupert Grint), with the latter owing much money to a not very nice man, The Ironmnonger, who's now taken the payment meant for said director. It's a brilliantly funny caper, even if not a little violent. Seek it out! From what I can see on IMDb, it's sort of crept out in a few countries, so you'll probably have to torrent it for now to actually see it.

Via schnee, a helpful flowchart on how to name animals in German.

So, here's a forthcoming comic of some interest: Angel Catbird, a superhero who's wound up getting spliced up with owl and cat genes. And it's written by Margaret Atwood, perhaps best known for The Handmaid's Tale.

Yay! One of my favorite TF flicks, Sssssss!, getting the HD treatment! It's a thoroughly daffy 70s horror film, based around a herpetologist's new assistant being unwittingly turned into a cobra.

Intriguingly, North Korea will be holding a Party Congress in May - the first since 1980. Of course, it's anybody's guess what will transpire - it's entirely possible it'll just be business as usual, but there's also the remote possibility of something more substantial. Might a Korean version of perestroika be in the offing?

A free sci-fi collection from an unlikely source: Future Visions. "Nine award-winning sci-fi authors – Elizabeth Bear, Greg Bear, David Brin, Nancy Kress, Ann Leckie, Jack McDevitt, Seanan McGuire and Robert J. Sawyer – and graphic novelist Blue Delliquanti were given access to people and resources at Microsoft Research, which has more than 55 areas of research within it. They chose the areas of research they wanted to explore. Among the many topics they absorbed were quantum computing, prediction analytics, virtual teleportation and computing that relates to emotion. The writers talked to researchers in person, asked questions and had candid conversations during packed, curated visits in the spring, aligned to their interests. The stories inspired by those visits are included in a 239-page collection of original short stories, illustrations based on each story by Joey Camacho, and a graphic novel."

Captions invited. ^_^ The two here were communicating by means of nosebump, when the adult suddenly leapt around in that 180 degree style rabbits can manage so dramatically - I happened to catch them at the very start of that. ^_^

Fancy a little fiendish guitarwork? How about this Japanese bank card advert, featuring the guitarist known as Li-sa-X. Yes, that is indeed her playing, and she's now the ripe old age of eleven. ^_^;

Rather curiously, the Eurovision Song Contest voting rules have been changed: "In previous years each country's jury and public votes were combined and announced in one go. Now the votes will be split with each country's jury vote cast first, and votes from viewers in all countries combined and announced at the end. Organisers say this will create a "dramatic finish" as the winner will only be revealed at the very end." I'm not sure about this at all, though it might be interesting to see the differences between the public and jury votes. The explanation does offer some good points, such as where the public and jury votes differ greatly, under the scheme as has been, the act might not place at all, and receive no points at all - now, that likely wouldn't be the case.

Here's a neat little bit of technological archaia: How the Teleprinter works, produced in 1940 by the GPO. (And for added nerd value, it's one of a fairly small number of films produced using Dufaycolor, an early process working along somewhat similar lines to digital camera sensors, with different, microscopic areas of the film sensitive to different ranges of color, rather than the more familiar film method of multiple layers)

I only just noticed! People's journals have RSS feeds. That might be something I could take advantage of, if I were to write a new OS X/iOS client. As is, I just use the plain web route on both Hazel and the iPad, but a dedicated client could offer some niceties, like showing how many postings friends have made since the last time you went about replying, offering a split view for someone's entry and your reply (particularly useful for replying to long entries), ensuring the style buttons *aren't* placed directly above the entry field, thereby getting obscured by iOS's "cut/paste/style" on selecting text on the first line or two of a reply, tagging an entry as "to reply to later", for easy returning to, and so on. What other things might appeal to you in such a client?

Saturday's viewing a couple weekends ago offered up a serendipitous choice: Burke & Hare, set in the very locale we'd just had the great pleasure of visiting. ^_^

I was rather upset, on Thursday's rabbiteering a few weeks ago, to witness a bun with some form of injury - they seemed to have either no control over, or no strength in, their hind legs, getting around purely by their front legs. Unfortunately, one of the others of the warren chose them to attack. It may be a bit much to hope, in the wild, but I must at least hope they remain safe. I don't know if I should publish any of these photos.. I suppose I should, as it did happen, but, I also lay no claim to being a documentary photographer. It probably only hurts anyone who's seen the peacefulness beforehand, albeit with them maintaining an odd poise, then that vigorous scuffle, and their subsequent isolation. However! A few days later, I noticed a bun with a slightly odd gait, but otherwise moving reasonably well - I could be thinking wishfully, but perhaps they are indeed recovering. ^_^ The population of the warren seems to be doing very well - I've observed peaks of up to eighteen on a few days, and once, twenty four, always including quite a few tinybuns. (I did finally remember to buy some raisins, too, and to scatter some of them out my the current prime spot; three times, actually. I do hope they find and enjoy them - they'll surely be a welcome change from the current slim pickings, especially with the current cold snap, with temperatures bouncing around freezing. And there I was, a few weeks ago, dismissing the need to pick up some gloves, thinking "ah, winter's gone now!" - ohhh, no, not just yet. It's not that it's been that cold, but when you're maintaining a still position, even a chilly breeze can freeze tender paws. For now, I just make do with taking a little break every half hour or so)

Speaking of tinybuns, here's a trio, probably no more than a couple weeks out of the warren, practising their synchronised eating:

A new con, with an interestingly geeky backer: Woz introduces the Silicon Valley Comic Con, March 18-20, in the bowels of San Jose.

With Y'allqaeda safely out of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, the task of cleaning up after them begins. The Oregon Natural Desert Association is soliciting for volunteers, or donations to the Friends of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Oh, this is wonderful.. I was curious to see if the Judge Minty team were making a sequel, and it seems not, with their energies directed instead at another long-time 2000AD (okay, originally Starlord) series: Strontium Dog. =:D

Some new details have emerged regarding 2017's new Star Trek series: "The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises." Fascinatingly, the showrunner will be Bryan Fuller, who gave us Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me, and is also in charge of the forthcoming adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Could be fun!

Tell me about your spice rack. ^_^ What wonders does it hold? Here, I maintain a reasonable mix of herbs, spices, and blends. Off the top of my head, there's: basil, sage, rosemary, Tellicherry pepper, sweet paprika, smoked hot paprika, asafoetida, mace, lemon myrtle; Berbere, ras el hanout, and a peppery mix whose name I forget; black cardamom; shrimp, ginger, and mango powders; balsamic vinegar, fish sauce, dark soy sauce, and probably one or two I've forgotten about. ^_^; In the fridge, there's always oyster sauce, which I find very useful in stir-fries, either as a primary flavor, or just a taste booster, as well as garlic paste, mustard (usually Maille dijon), and some variety of heat, such as chipotle paste or finger chillis.

In a holy shit moment for physics, it appears that yes, gravitational waves have been detected. =:D "The frequency of the chirp was too low for neutron stars, the physicists knew. Detailed analysis of its form told a tale of Brobdingnagian activities in a far corner of the universe: the last waltz of a pair of black holes shockingly larger than astrophysicists had been expecting. One of them was 36 times as massive as the sun, the other 29. As they approached the end, at half the speed of light, they were circling each other 250 times a second. And then the ringing stopped as the two holes coalesced into a single black hole, a trapdoor in space with the equivalent mass of 62 suns. All in a fifth of a second, Earth time.

Dr. Weiss said you could reproduce the chirp by running your fingernails across the keys of a piano from the low end to middle C. Lost in the transformation was three solar masses’ worth of energy, vaporized into gravitational waves in an unseen and barely felt apocalypse. As visible light, that energy would be equivalent to a billion trillion suns. And yet it moved the LIGO mirrors only four one-thousandths of the diameter of a proton."

I can't believe I've forgotten to mention this video! Basement Jaxx "Do Your Thing", set to an outstandingly well edited Pinkie Pie tribute by mrdeloop. It's a brilliantly bouncy, jazzy track - great for listening to (or indeed, watching) on the bus, or as morning commute soundtrack. ^_^ Or, if you're wanting something far more bittersweet - also pony based - Remembrance, by Argodaemon, is well worth viewing. Yes, you'll cry. Or! How about something much more upbeat, and very, very silly? The Last Saskatchewan Pirate, soundtrack by the Arrogant Worms. (h/t ungulata)

Within the same day or so, two significant sites took quite disparate public stances on adblocking: Wired will block adblock users, whilst Stack Overflow doesn't mind if you do or don't block ads. Tragically, Wired's claiming a mere $52/year will suffice for them to accept you blocking ads - which, compared to some $20/year for the iPad edition, might not seem like the absolute bestest deal in town. Stack Overflow, meanwhile: "An important part of the QA process is ensuring that not just the creative, but the advertiser is relevant to our audience. Every single ad to appear on any of our sites is vetted by the operations team. We check copy and content on the ads as well as the landing pages. What we repeatedly ask ourselves in this QA process is quite simple: is this relevant to users? ‘Kiss your hosting problems goodbye’ with a provocative image is not something we want on our sites, and I’m sure our users don’t either. The purpose of this heavy QA is to ensure that our users get the most out of their experience on Stack Overflow. The content is helpful-- why can’t the ads be the same?" Can we please see more of this attitude? Much as I loathe the incessant waves of advertising everywhere, with some notable exceptions, I'm happy to let Project Wonderful ads through, as I've discovered quite a few good new comics through them, and only exceptionally rarely are the ads distracting.

How to listen to radio using a weed. (The transmitter shown, now demolished, was in Brovary, Ukraine)

If you have five minutes to spare, and want something simply heartwarming, try Guess How Much I Love You, a beautifully animated version of a children's book featuring Little Nut Brown Hare trying to express how much they love Big Nut Brown Hare - and vice versa. You can also see more from the artist, Anita Jeram, over here. (Many thanks to mondhasen!)

I finally got to see Spectre. And I'm quite pleased I did. ^_^ It was a fabulously refreshing change from the recent Gritty Bond™, where humor was forbidden - instead, this felt like a harkening back to the classic flicks, or even Goldeneye. So, I can see why some folk felt disappointed, if they went in expecting something as comparatively grim as Quantum of Solace.

You might recall I mentioned the then-forthcoming Rusty Lake Hotel adventure the other month. I'd forgotten about it, but it does indeed appear to be available now, and garnering plenty of positive sentiment.

Meet Atlas, a continental giant rabbit, who may eventually grow to 1.2m long. =:D He's in need of a home, and currently being cared for by the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. So adorable!

Interesting to see the Guardian take a look at fursuiting. It doesn't cover any new ground, but does manage to stay reasonably level-headed about it all, accepting it's a lot of fun for everyone. Sadly, of the three photos, only one is actually suit-related, of a rather spiffy canid head - a link to some furcon's trailer, or fursuit walk video, would've surely helped convey the spirit of that aspect of furrydom much better. One which comes immediately to mind, f'rex, is Revit's Megaplex 2014 Con Video, very nicely edited indeed. (via supergee)

You may have seen Wendelstein 7-X produced its first (brief) hydrogen plasma recently, entirely successfully. If you've been wondering what the big deal is about the device, peer over here, for some explanations from Thomas Klinger, director at the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics.

Following a ten year, £4.2 million refurbishment, the Flying Scotsman is back!

With spam filtering now taking care of a lot of 419 scammers automagically, I see almost none these days. But, they do nonetheless manage to ensnare some folk, and milk them for as much cash as they can muster. So, it was with some relish I read this worthy list of ten legendary scambaiting operations. (My favorite probably remains one I read a while back, involving a rather well carved replica of a Commodore 64)

Until I read of it in Wanderlust's reader awards, I hadn't even known about the four part "Stephen Fry in Central America" travelogue. In it, he travels through from El Paso to Panama, through as diverse landscapes and economic scenarios as is possible to imagine, from a junior football team in Honduras, where he asks (as kidnapping is rife thereabouts) who's seen a dead body, and finds just about everyone raises their hand, to the region's sole billionnaire, setting up the region's largest solar energy plant. Easily recommended. ^_^
ZOMG. I've just learned the results of the 2016 Wanderlust Photo of the Year competition - and I was awarded second place! (Each category received a winner, a runner-up, and a highly commended entry)

I may not have won the first place, but still, this is tremendously exciting. ^_^ Indeed, it represents my first win as a wildlife photographer - and with it, public exhibition of the piece at the Destinations Show 2016, through this weekend, helping show there can be such wonder and beauty in the lives of a species often overlooked as a wildlife subject.

Apparently, The Danish Girl sees its digital release on Feb 16, and on physical media on Mar 1. ^_^ I admit, I'm torn - it's an excellent film, no doubt, but is it one I could really watch often?

So! The little Edinburgh break is arranged: Monday to Wednesday, Feb 15-17. ^_^ I'm so looking forward to this - I'd never really realised what a gem of culture in so many regards the city is. Staying in such a wonderful hotel certainly won't hurt, but I imagine we'll have plenty keeping us out of the room, between the many top notch restaurants, the castle, the museums, and the Whisky Tasting Experience, let alone a cheap day ticket on the buses, or a hop further on the train.

Saturday night was a bit of a collection of shorts, on the TV front: first, The Chickening (which I do hope you've seen =:), followed by another I only vaguely recalled downloading some time ago, The Leap - and which I'll make a point of recommending. It's not an especially fun short, but.. I shed some tears of happiness. Then, at long last, Prelude to Axanar, a fan-made TNG-era short, looking at the years before the Klingons began cooperating with the Federation. For the feature presentation, the roomie chose Lady Snowblood, a 1973 Japanese flick, being a Meiji era tale that could so easily have been a Western, a tale of a daughter's quest for revenge on the four assailants on her parents.

For anyone enjoying photography in the UK, I see Lenses for Hire are running their traditional 50% off February: all rentals are automatically half price until the end of Feb 2016, and can be booked months in advance, only chargeable immediately prior to the rental. If there's an exotic lens you've been wanting to try, now's the perfect opportunity to give it a shot for a lot less than usual. (And they've very good people to deal with, too)

You've probably read of the idea of paving roads with photovoltaic panels: and now, it's happening, in France, where the Minister of Ecology and Energy has announced that they intend to pave 1000km of road with such panels, in the next five years. "According to France’s Agency of Environment and Energy Management, 4m of solarised road is enough to supply one household’s electricity needs, apart from heating, and one kilometre will light a settlement with 5,000 inhabitants. So the maximum effect of the programme, if successful, could be to furnish 5 million people with electricity, or about 8% of the French population."

The only search engine you really need: the Frinkiac. Give it anything Simpsons-related, and it'll offer relevant screenshots.

Until Feb 14 2016, Final Fantasy II is free, if that's the kind of thing that rocks your world. ^_^ Launch the Final Fantasy Portal app (which acts as a container app for all of them), and you'll be able to purchase it for nothing. (If you get a somewhat unhelpful error about some elements of identity not matching, quit the app and relaunch it, and the next attempt should work fine)

Interesting times in aviation, with the Iranian sanctions finally lifted: Iran Air has already placed an order for 118 new Airbus craft, including a dozen A380s.

I really need to look into some gloves - Tuesday's rabbiteering was.. quite uncomfortable, with a strong, cold wind. Repeatedly, I had to hook the camera on the gate, and try defrosting the poor paws in the coat pockets, while the head remained somewhat protected by the hood. But.. it proved worthwhile. ^_^ Here's a touch of the seldom witnessed Bunny Conga.

A previously undiscovered Beatrix Potter story has been found! "The Tale of Kitty-in-Boots was rediscovered by publisher Jo Hanks after she found a reference to it in an out-of-print Potter biography. Quentin Blake, best known for his work with Roald Dahl, has illustrated the story, to be published in September."

Well, now. Isn't this a thing? The Chickening is.. well, think of The Shining, but all about chickens. (And, I discovered that 4K Video Downloader helpfully bypasses YouTube's requirement to sign in)

I was hankering after a new SL machinima or two, and happened upon Pursue Impossible, which is really rather well thought through, and edited remarkably professionally, with narration provided by a thought-provoking exerpt from a lecture by Alan Watts, on the theme of "if you could do anything, what actually would you do?".

I'm sort of muttering to myself with this, but WTH. ^_^ You might recall I mentioned the Italian French Bakery some entries ago, which had changed hands, and recently closed. Apparently, it is indeed reopening. Seems entirely sensible, especially given they've got those wonderful old (about a century or so) ovens in place - might as well use them productively! (Someone nudge me about getting a photo or two of the place included in a future entry)

I finally got to see The Danish Girl, having encountered all variety of reasons to put it off to another day, from tricky timing to (plenty of) grotty weather. I'm impressed. The narrative is very well handled indeed, resembling the feel more of a romance than a drama/documentary, but a romance of such a fundamentally different kind than was acceptable at the time, least of all by the medical establishment. I'll recommend it - perhaps not happily, but with profound respect, and happiness nonetheless that they knew such love.

Open this URL for Glittering Blue, and set that tab/window to full screen. (Might not work on mobile devices) Is that not beautiful?

More MLP:

- The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows: brilliant. ^_^ I suppose the simple structure helped - the story was set in motion early on, leaving almost all of the rest for Pinkie to demonstrate just how excrutiatingly good shecan be at keeping a promise, whatever the cost. ^_^;

- Hearthbreakers: not nearly as awkward as I feared. ^_^ I liked the way in which AJ recovered the crisis, and managed to turn the situation around quite deftly, combining the traditions of both families to good effect. (And as for that huge stone - the huge egg shaped stone, found in a dragon's cave? We'll surely be seeing more of that someday)

We watched "The King of Kong" on Saturday night, a rather interesting little exploration into the world of competitive "classic" gaming, particularly Donkey Kong. I shan't say too much, but, suffice to say there were a couple figures who've had quite a long running battle between them. Easily worth a look, if the topic's of interest.

Well, there's an interesting bit of casting: Matt Smith will play Robert Mapplethorpe in a forthcoming biopic.

It's been quite interesting to see the Apple head honchos confirm they're very interested in VR tech. Quite how that'll pan out, of course, is anybody's guess but theirs. I doubt they'll buy out an existing headset provider, though if they were to do so, Avegant would be my first choice, being fine tech and very non-geeky in appearance. More likely, if they ever released a headset, it'd be locally cooked, including tech from smaller acquisitions, given Apple's previous corporate behavior.

Also on the fruity front, I noticed this rumor claiming that they may, at long last, indeed be looking into producing their own TV shows. I've long thought that'd make sense for them, given the Apple TV's finally become a real player, and the company's not exactly short of the financing that'd be required.

Thursday was a surprisingly good day for rabbiteering - one of the best in months! After noticing a bun or two in the "dip" (in the middle of the footpath, which unfortunately can get quite muddy at this time of year), only to have them scattered by a couple walkers approaching me a few minutes later, I headed back to the aerial spot, which seemed unoccupied by rabbitkind, plus having one of the owner's vehicles parked within, for some work on the site. So, down to one of the first spots when I discovered this circuit - and there were up to around a dozen there, including a couple youngsters. ^_^ I always enjoy watching buns going about their lives, but when there are so many, placing me in the fortunate dilemma of having to constantly choose who to watch in the viewfinder, sometimes hopping between different groups, it becomes a complete joy. (And indeed, today was almost as good! But that wind! Oof, that got quite uncomfortable. I should look into some gloves)

First, a demonstration of why life can be tough for a doe, with bucks wont to spray them, which they enjoy about as much as you'd expect.

And from today, the opening manoeuvres of a brief pursuit, with the pursuer even baring their teeth:

We're considering dates for our little prize trip to Edinburgh next month. ^_^ Probably Monday to Wednesday, getting there around 4pm, leaving at a similar time. (The prize is good Sun-Fri) Might anyone have particular recommendations for venues we really oughtn't miss? Whisky, good food, general culture, architecture - with not much time there, is there anything we'll be kicking ourselves for having missed? (Though, I'd certainly hope it won't be our last visit there. Indeed, we're already tentatively planning a slightly longer visit, if the coming weeks work out well) It certainly doesn't look like there's any shortage of venues on any of those fronts, and that's just considering the central portion of town, all eminently walkable.

Oh, no.. The Moff is leaving Doctor Who - which would be enough of a wrench by itself, but he's being replaced by Chris Chibnall, fondly remembered for his risible "Cyberwoman" Torchwood story, amongst other elevated fanfic outings. And I never did make it through his Silurians two-parter..

At long, long last, I'm finally getting started on learning Japanese. ^_^ I'd had the trial version of (rather inappropriately, but still) Human Japanese on the iPad around for a while, and it quite impressed me - animations of stroke order on hiragana, pronunciations of all Japanese words by native speakers, hints on just what to look out for when writing Japanese, and other miscellaneous insights - it's a genuinely insightful course. It's available for various platforms - in my case, iPad, for which you can buy both the beginner and intermediate apps as a twin bundle for £16 (or £10 each), which seemed entirely fair. I'm still very early in, trying to pound hiragana into my tiny brain, with some success.

I know I can't really afford it, but good gods, that 36 month Iberico ham from Waitrose (in the chilled section, not the deli, and only some larger branches) is absolutely phenomenal. It's what you'd expect of that kind of ham, just even more so, with a deliciously intense flavor, and still meltingly soft on the tongue. If you've been very good, consider treating yourself to a packet thereof. ^_^ Of course, working out just what cheeses pair best with it requires research. Extensive, delectable research.

The story of Laura Meyer, head chef at Tony's (an excellent pizzeria in North Beach) and first American and first woman to win the World Pizza Championship, in Parma, back in 2013. (Her winning creation: "La Regina", "a play on a classic diavola pizza with tomato sauce, soppressata picante, prosciutto di Parma, arugula, and Piave, Parmesan, and provolone cheeses")

Some fairy tales, as the Brothers Grimm thought, date back quite some time - further than even they'd suspected. "Dr Tehrani said Jack And The Beanstalk was rooted in a group of stories classified as The Boy Who Stole Ogre's Treasure, and could be traced back to when Eastern and Western Indo-European languages split more than 5,000 years ago. Analysis showed Beauty And The Beast and Rumpelstiltskin to be about 4,000 years old."

I know it's BuzzFeed, but still, these photos of huskies training in Scotland for the Aviemore Sled Dog Rally are quite superb. ^_^

Who knows? I might finally be able to get around to seeing two films I've had my eye on: Star Wars, and The Danish Girl. (In SW, does the 3D add much? I'm tempted to see it thusly, as it was genuinely filmed in 3D, rather than having that added in post)

There's an unusual planetary alignment occurring, with five planets side by side in the morning twilight sky.

Pornhub's worldwide survey of preferences makes for some amusing reading. ^_^ "The Italians are the only consumers for whom footjob and feet make it into the most-searched. In Brazil, some of the fastest-gaining search terms include Pokemon and Scooby Doo. In Russia, my little pony was the 7th most searched term last year." Meanwhile, in the UK, british chav made its debut as one of the top search terms. O.o; (h/t supergee)

Here, have a small leap. ^_^

It's quite to be expected that when a famous musician dies, their albums see a bump in popularity. A "bump" in the case of David Bowie apparently means 25% of the Top 40 is his, with nineteen albums in all (re-)entering the Top 100. It was indeed sadly impressive to see just how extraordinarily widespread reporting thereof turned out to be, appearing on many sites otherwise unconnected to music, even topping Y Combinator's Hacker News, the geek news hub.

Comic recommendation of the day: Never Satisfied. The story begins with a group of magical apprentices attempting to prove their worth in a somewhat unorthodox competition of capturing birds. The art style is somewhat reminiscent of the animation era of the 1950s and 1960s, drawn with panache, without being self-conscious, as with Little Kitten Teeth. Meanwhile, Snarlbear is.. sort of a fantasy, set in a strange world with variously ravenous animals and plants, and with a beautifully unconstrained use of vibrant hues. (The title comes from our hero's nickname, given to her upon entering the world abruptly, and promptly vanquishing a bear with entirely too many pointy teeth)

On geek tools: Ops 'n Lops. Have a peek within, to see how easy it is to manage a large operation remotely, with the right tools. Myself, I hadn't been aware of mosh, helping make secure connections sane over potentially high latency connections, such as cellular, as well as transparently restoring a session even from a new IP, such as going from cellular on the move to DSL back home.

Following something of a recommendation from lovelyangel, we finally saw the recent version of Jem and the Holograms. Which, yes, we both thoroughly enjoyed. ^_^ True, the writing at points could have used some fine tuning, but fundamentally, the sense of exuberance at success, and the desolation following, rang true. (And it has to be said, who wouldn't want to enjoy such a series of incredible makeovers? Not sure I'd really be one for violet hair, though. Maybe a rich auburn, or maybe just absolutely in your face fluorescent pink. ^_^)

And: one guy's intrepid experimentation to recover teletext data from old VHS tapes. Previously, the quality stored wasn't sufficient to decode with any useful level of accuracy, but with current processing, that's become possible. So we're receiving stacks of teletext pages from the 1980s. =:D

Poll #2033943 Oingo Boingo

Have you heard of Oingo Boingo?


Have you..

seen them live?
bought their music?
got the t-shirt(s)?
anything else we should know about?

About those gravitational wave detection rumors.. they're very much just that, and no more. As the writer cautions: "The current excitement could easily be a false alarm. Even if LIGO has a promising signal, it may be a false test signal planted as a drill. It's been done before, in 2010 near the end of LIGO's last pre-upgrade run. Three members of the LIGO team are empowered to move the mirrored blocks by just the right traces in just the right way. Only they know the truth, and the test protocol is that they not reveal a planted signal until the collaboration has finished analyzing it and is ready to publish a paper and hold a press conference. “Blind tests” like this are the gold standard in all branches of science." It's a spectacular experiment, regardless, "looking for changes in the distance between mirrored blocks of metal 4 km apart as slight as 10-22 meter, about a millionth the diameter of a proton. In other words, changes in measurement of 1 part in 1025."

The US election process is ridiculously convoluted, but still, as it stands, I've found it most encouraging to see Sanders and Clinton go neck and neck in Iowa. "The Des Moines Register/Bloomberg poll released Thursday morning shows Clinton with the support of 42 percent of likely Democratic caucus-goers, compared to 40 percent for Sanders. Former Maryland governor Martin O'Malley received just four percent support. Clinton led Sanders by nine points in the same poll last month, 48 percent to 39 percent."

January has, thankfully, seen a few more bright days than December 2015 - or, sometimes, just a bit brighter, as in this instance, where there'd been a little light rain earlier in the day, leaving the grass sparkling with tiny beads.

Don't suppose anyone's seen Adventures in Comedy? "A mockumentary that takes place in the cut throat world of stand-up comedy. It follows the struggles one comic faces as he gives his dream one last shot." It stars the likes of Rob Cantrell, Margaret Cho, and Janeane Garofalo, so.. there's definitely some distinct potential. (I occasionally browse the iTunes Store, and stumble upon little oddities - in this case, sufficiently unknown IMDb has no rating)
And there was great rejoicing in the Nikon lands, as the D300s replacement finally arrived, in the form of the rather sublime D500. People had been hoping for a new pro DX body for years, but nothing appeared, with the D90 simply evolving through the D7x00 line. (It's rumored the Thai floods disrupted these plans) It'll be a while before I can consider migrating, but when I'm able to, I'll do so with enthusiasm - the new body's 10fps maximum continuous shooting speed will be very nice to have on those occasions where there's a frenetic chase or a tall leap, not to mention a very generous buffer. (The D7100 can manage 6fps, with a bizarrely bijou buffer of only about 4 RAWs; the D500 offers 10fps, and whilst the buffer itself is "only" 14-16 RAWs deep, the speed of the cards permits around 79 RAWs in uncompressed 14-bit mode, or 200 in lossless compressed 12-bit) For anyone interested, Nikon has a technology digest available, which goes into more detail on aspects like the AF specifics. The catch is that it's priced commensurately, similar to the FX wunderkind, the D810. But, its 36MP would do me little good, given I'm much more interested in pixel density, let alone its rather modest continuous framerate, or the various other nifty goodies the D500 offers, like easy AF fine adjustment for any lens, or flicker compensation, which times exposures to take place at the peak of fluorescent or similar lighting's AC cycle - something even the new D5 flagship doesn't offer!

As for what it brings to the party: UHD video (including uncompressed video out over HDMI), 10fps, XQD support (one XQD slot, one SDXC slot), new AF module with 153 points, ISO up to 51,200 natively, expandable to 1,640,000, 2.3MP touch LCD with tilt articulation, WiFi working alongside Bluetooth, and more. It's essentially a DX version of the D5. =:D You can even read an in-depth review, from someone who was sent one in November 2015. There are also a few extra clarifications in this internal document, and in the comments, where it's noted that the D500 buffer is actually more around 14-16 RAWs deep, with the balance made up by the far faster card writing possible with XQD and UHS-II SDXC. Interestingly, it seems the XQD version of the D5 can write faster than the CF version (the D5 comes in two versions, one with twin XQD, the other with twin CompactFlash) - finally, CF's days appear to be numbered.

This SatW comic delves into film title translations - worth a look, and do go down into the comments for many more manglings, some quite poetic. ^_^

If you have questions to ask of Ebbe Linden, he's now accepting questions, to be submitted before Friday, Jan 15 2016, for a meeting on Thursday, Jan 21, 1030 SLT (1830 GMT). (Yes, I'm a bit late in posting this.. ^_^;;)

jeriendhal's daughter is participating in a half-marathon in May 2016, should you feel inclined to sponsoring her, via the charity Love Without Boundaries, which "provides life-changing surgeries and medical care, runs well monitored foster care programs, operates in-orphanage schools and offers student support, and gives quality formula and nutrition to orphaned and impoverished children."

Rather cool to see.. say you're an airline, and need to get a spare engine out to another craft in a hurry. How would you transport it? In this case, Qantas mounted it on the wing of another 747. Not operational, of course - the blades were removed, and fairings added to reduce drag, but there it is: a 747 with five engines on its wings. =:D

Dirk Gently lives again! BBC America & AMC have ordered eight episodes. I am, however, a touch nervous, as the writer is the guy responsible for 2012's "Chronicle", which wasn't exactly a masterpiece of subtlety. Still, we'll see.

Ah, that's a (minor) pain.. we enjoyed a power cut from around 10am-3pm on Monday, which I didn't actually notice for a good hour, given my primary system is a MacBook Pro, backed up by an iPad Air. I did notice the iPlayer downloads seemed to be running a bit slowly, but thought it must be just one of those things, especially as the entire BBC site had been down a few hours previous. Eventually, I noticed I wasn't actually connected to my usual WiFi node - it'd helpfully fallen over seamlessly to another access point. Unfortunately, not the iPad, which is on a 10GB/mo plan, but the iPhone, on a nominal 500MB/mo (plus 250 mins, unlimited texts).. so, yep, those iPlayer downloads slammed that data allowance into the ground, leaving me data-less until I buy another bundle, which I'd just done on Saturday. =:P (I can still use the voice time and texts, and data on the phone's fairly unimportant - the iPad's the mobile workhorse. Still, frustrating, for want of accidentally leaving the phone's "personal hotspot" pref enabled)

I finally got to see the "original" buns again. ^_^ That was the first time since July, which turned out to be a touch less rewarding than I'd hoped, as the field was all but overrun with wildflowers and other tall vegetation - for which the buns may well have been very grateful, but, I'm not currently equipped to shoot in infrared. =:) There weren't really any gasp-worthy moments, I'm afraid, but it was nonetheless a delight to see them all out and about, across the length of the space - and being relatively accustomed to people walking and cycling by on the path, they tend to be a good notch less skittish than most. (I did, unfortunately, forget to provide a tribute of raisins. If I get another opportunity in the coming weeks, I must try to remember. And the new Doc Martens came in beautifully handy, as there'd been some rain recently, making for a substantial puddle of a couple inches' water across the entire width of the path, through which I could merrily stride, casting my hair back with a laugh. Or something like that =:)

It's a bit of a messy composition, with so much bramble around, but still - I had to try capturing that moment, with the two of them quite deliberately nestled up to each other, side by side. ^_^

Do you go out to see many films on theatrical release, or do you tend to leave them for video nights, when you can invite friends over? For my part, it varies a lot where I am at the time - back in Bath, I loved going along to films at The Little, set in (of course) a Georgian building, with so much atmosphere, and the pleasant ability to buy lovely choc'lit and cider. Here, rather less so, with the local place being a generic multiplex. I am, however, tempted to try catching The Danish Girl - I'm a little surprised it even reached here, TBH, let alone four times daily. There's also Star Wars, of course, but I'd prefer to keep that for some monumental screen - I understand the South Bank's IMAX is quite good. ^_^ And I might see what The Good Dinosaur's like - that's also apparently still showing.

So, I finally got to see "Crusaders of the Lost Mark". Of course, I cried. ^_^ Not just for the CMCs, but for Diamond Tiara as well, finally breaking free of her mother's selfishness, becoming the pony she wants to be. There've been some very good episodes in season 5, but that's one of the best of all. Just beautiful. ^_^

Huh. Is "mutual friends" screwed up for anyone else's profile? (And then there's LJ's adoption of that wretched web design fad for hiding as much as possible, on profiles) If I show "friends", it lists everyone correctly - but if I ask for "mutual friends", it only actually offers up the names of about half the actual people, the rest sucked into some bit bucket along the way.

We watched "Alejandro Jodorowsky's Dune". I'd heard about the project, and a couple of the notable figures involved, but to see that extraordinary assembly of talent.. ye gods and little fishes, it would have been truly glorious. Ah, the film? It's about the making of, or rather, the non-making of - tragically, even once all the talent had been assembled, and a weighty tome produced with the entire project storyboarded out, and all the effects work considered, Hollywood simply wouldn't bite, leaving the production without the full money required to make it happen. So, you've got him as director, of course - and then, on visual design work, there's Mobius, Chris Foss, and Giger. As one of the main protagonists, Mick Jagger. As another, the director's son, who was trained for the role in all manner of martial arts, for six hours a day, for two years. As the totalitarian leader of the Universe, Dalí. As Baron Harkonnen, Orson Welles. Music by Pink Floyd, who were just putting the finishing touches to Dark Side of the Moon. Intriguingly, toward the end, AJ actually specifically notes that today, this could be perfectly feasible as an animation project, not necessarily with him involved. FSM, if there were any way I could play a part in bringing that into reality.. !
A music video I'd like to recommend: Julia Nunes - Make Out. It's a bit of a departure from my usual electronic leanings, but it's such a happy, warm video, and an absolute delight of a track as well. If you need a bit of cheering up, or just want some warm fuzzies, watch it now. ^_^ (And on the making of the video, she notes, "I did not account for bystanders watching. We filmed at a hotel with an open walkway and people were snapping pics all day. They started coming out of their rooms around the fifth play through "Make Out." They probably heard it another 70 times. I was also not expecting my DP to be wearing mechanical arms. I walked on set at like 7am and saw a robot human and thought maybe I was still dreaming.") There's more on the background to the video and the album over here.

"FYS: Chat Room" is a brilliant little short story by jeriendhal. You'll pick up on the setting quickly enough.

New Year turned out to have a good deal of coughing and aching, unfortunately, thanks to a fantastically poorly timed - and rare - bug of some kind, culminating in sleeping from about 2am-3pm after New Year's Day. (You know a cough is deep when you can feel vertebrae shifting position as you cough..) Thankfully, I'm now mostly over it, just in time for both our guests to have left. =:P Bah, pesky organic bodies. (Hence the lack of replies to comments lately, for which I must apologise) Nonetheless, we did enjoy some very welcome mutual chilling out, including several games of Exploding Kittens (but none of Pandemic, much to my regret), watching Battle Beyond the Stars for the first time in ages (and I noticed one "Jim Cameron" listed in the Art Department - yep, him!), and my suggestion of Tank Girl was happily accepted. (And why is Tank Girl still not available in the iTunes Store? Agh, I'll never understand studios whinging about "piracy", whilst doing all they can to encourage it)

The actual trailer for Zootopia is now out! I must find out if there will be a full-size Judy Hopps for sale at Disneyland. ^_^ (There was, back in 1996, a "life size" - about 4' tall - Br'er Rabbit, perfectly on model. Absolutely wonderful! Sadly, yet another victim of all the moving around)

Sort of a mini non-parable from rav_bunneh: The Glass. It's amusing, true, and encouraging.

davesmusictank pointed out a sobering read: "The Really Big One", from the New Yorker, on where we might next expect an especially powerful earthquake - and no, it's not where you're thinking. And yes, it would be very, very bad news. The odds? They're estimating around a one in three chance of it occurring in the next fifty years; the last such subduction event was in 1700, and such events in the Cascades occur, on average, every 250 years or so. "In the Pacific Northwest, the area of impact will cover some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people. When the next full-margin rupture happens, that region will suffer the worst natural disaster in the history of North America. Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million."

Complete with many, many examples: The Website Obesity Crisis.

Laurie Anderson Reflects On Life And Loss In 'Heart Of A Dog', via NPR. "Multimedia artist Laurie Anderson has made a new film that's a personal reflection on death. The film is dedicated to her husband, Lou Reed, who died in 2013. But his passing is not spoken of in the film. As you might guess from the film's title, "Heart Of A Dog," a central focus is her late dog, her rat terrier, Lolabelle, who died in 2011. But Anderson also tells stories about her mother's death, the accident which nearly killed Anderson's twin brothers and one that nearly killed her. Anderson narrates the entire film, did the drawings and animation and wrote and performed the score. Home movies from her childhood as well as video diaries are woven in. Lolabelle went blind before she died. To give her some sense of structure and pleasure, Anderson got her a form of music therapy including piano lessons, using an electric keyboard which was placed on the floor."

ChipWorks published their examination of the Apple Pencil, which has quite a lot crammed inside. Sadly, their investigation into exactly how the Pencil actually interacts with the iPad Pro's display is ongoing, but they do offer one teasing tidbit: the chip at the very tip is a high voltage low current driver.
Looks like it'll be a fun, mellow time in the warren tonight. ^_^ Another old Uni friend's down for a few days, so we're enjoying chilling out with a motley assortment of vodka, gin, triple sec et al, with a view to plenty of Long Island Iced Teas and dangerously smooth fruity cocktails, plus various bits playing off the main server, starting with three episodes of The Expanse, a SyFy production set on Ceres, now a major trading hub, rather reliant on Earth and Mars for survival, if not much more than that. All is going as normal, until an ice freighter receives a distress call from a disabled ship, which goes about as badly as could be, bringing Mars and Earth within a hair of war.

I did, unfortunately, also experience Pixels - its origins as a short were quite evident, padded out with obnoxious lead characters who nonetheless all Got The Girl. Nicely produced effects work, at least, and a surprisingly good soundtrack, ironically from the same guy responsible for Wreck-It Ralph's music.

Hmm.. I've come out of the bath to "Wildcats" playing, starring Goldie Hawn.. we shall see. ^_^;
And so, last week, the time did come for the bunny to make their way down to the maternal warren for Yuletide, where a chasm of cellular signal did most grievously interfere with the casual plan to rendezvous for dinner. ^_^; But then, it seems to be a rule that all good pubs must have ropey cellular service, to the point where there's enough to place the call, but not enough for any actual voice data to pass. Which is how I managed to spend over half an hour trying to arrange a taxi for her to join me where the bus had (conveniently =:) let me off, at a pub I'm especially fond of, with food that's quite simple, but really well done, lively atmosphere, and a bevy of great local ciders on offer. Nonetheless, she was eventually safely delivered, and we did feast upon their chicken, gammon, and leek pie both, with hand cut chips, and peas. Like I said, simple fare, but absolutely delicious - packed with chunks of chicken breast, pepped up with little flecks of gammon, and that nice edge of leek in a creamy sauce. We returned the next day as well, where I enjoyed beautifully intensely flavored beef cheeks with tagliatelle, though I admit I needed to add a tiny bit of salt and pepper, after which I felt it just right.

Thursday saw me pick up a few extra bits and pieces I thought might help for the grand Yule meal, and later in the day, including some prawns to go with the avocados, and what proved to be a very pleasant Shiraz to go with the centerpiece of the meal, a generously proportioned duck. =:9

I'll offer up a final note to the current Humble Comics Bundle, expiring in mere hours (7pm GMT today, 11am Pacific) - there's so much great work in there, not just the excellent Lumberjanes. ^_^

I finally got to see Albert Nobbs, a veritable tour de force by Glenn Close. I shan't say more, as much of the film rests on the strength of the performances, but I'll happily recommend it.

Autostraddle published a magnificent list of longreads written by women (ie at least 3000 words), covering a huge variety of topics, courtesy of many venues, including a few from themselves.

Cute corporate furriness: Slack Teams: Animals. Really liking the hare, of course. ^_^

I changed my background image. ^_^ Not a huge deal, but the last time I did so was somewhere around 2009. The newcomer is Noben's rather delightful "Art of the Carnival", featuring a thoughtful leporine artist. It might take me a little getting used to, with the dominant hue now green rather than blue, but.. yes, I'm pleased with it. It belongs. Et voilà!

I am, of course, delighted that the Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Choir topped the charts with their "A Bridge Over You", sending a not very subtle hint to the Conservatives that yes, the NHS really is a wonder that should be far better funded, not hived off into private hands.

Fun little fact in BBC News' obituary for Lemmy: "Motorhead went on to sponsor the Greenbank under-10s B [football] team, which had the internationally renowned band's name on their shirts along with the band's motif - a skull named Snaggletooth. The team also ran out to the band's famous Ace of Spades track."

There's one quite reliably active warren on my usual local rabbiteering trail, with a frustrating caveat: there's no good visibility. I can get a reasonably clear view (but still with the odd branch and bramble that can get in the way while tracking for a shot), but a bit too far away from them for good photos; or, I can be on the trail running behind them, but with a thicket in the way, mostly obstructing any view. But, I was lucky enough to have one or two within the thicket itself - and thanks to the magic of a comparatively wide aperture lens, I was able to shoot through it all, and still wind up with a reasonably clear photo. ^_^ I'm delighted how close they let me come, despite them knowing very well that I was there.

I hope everyone's having a wonderful time, whatever you're celebrating, and wherever and whomever that may be with. ^_^

Here, I've finished a couple hours' cooking, for a lunch that proved almost as good as I could have hoped for, save for overcooking the vegetables somewhat, though not badly. I treated Mum to roast duck with reasonably crispy skin, roast potatoes, Brussels wrapped in smoked bacon (the fat in the pan was indeed delicious =:), accompanied by some baby carrots, tenderstem broccoli, and green beans, with a pre-made gravy I'd bumped up in appeal with a dash or two of spiced rum and the Shiraz for the table. =:9

We are duly stuffed. ^_^

I'm happy. She enjoyed it, as did I - duck's such a tasty meat, and all the trimmings went so well. And now the TV's got "Brave" playing, which I see no reason to dismiss, being one of my top Pixar favorites, along with Ratatouille and The Incredibles. And after that.. Doctor Who. =:D