Monday, July 6, 2015

One summers’ evening

DSC01941 (1400x914)Shakespeare's comedy Midsummer Night’s Dream was presented in the Savill Gardens over the weekend: it was a lovely show on a perfect summer evening.  We walked through the gardens from one setting to another as 12 players surrounded us with the story of the games of the Gods, of loves lost and found.  The encircling forest gave the production an immersive quality: the portion where the searching lovers cry out to one another over the reaches of rolling lawns and flower beds was especially effective. 

The play continues through July and is well worth an evening.

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I’ve been absent these pages for a month due to the sudden and unexpected passing of my son.  I needed the time with family, and I want to thank all of the valuable, sometimes unexpected, support that I received from others.  IMG_4046With time and reflection, I’ll find the wisdom and resilience to make peace with this crooked turn along life’s path.

Photography, art, writing, have always helped me to explore my context and to make sense of my experiences.   However, in this circumstance I also needed to take a hiatus from updating the blog. 

A month on, I feel ready to return. Despite the loss and sadness, I know that my life remains filled with remarkable scenes and stories, generous people and much happiness.  There will be a time when I am ready to write my remembrance for my son.  But, for now, these daily perspectives are the ones that I most want, and need, to recognize and to appreciate.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Along the coast, across the moors

I started the day as House-Dad, helping Greek-mom with her pronunciation and our resident cardiologist fix a flat tire.  Both have had a lot of success in the past week: Laura passed her PhD defense and is officially a Doctor-Doctor-Fellow in Bournemouth, while the whole Greek clan has found new jobs in Poole.  There were a few bumps in that, though.

In order to work in a pub, they had to pass a health and safety test with perfect scores.  The on-line course was dense and technical, how to handle money and underage drinkers, which fire extinguishers and cleaning solvents to use for various jobs, how to move boxes and wash dishes properly.  It seems unreasonable to expect someone just learning English to understand and absorb that amount off material in one go, and I ended up helping with an evening's tutorial.  In the end, everyone understood and passed.
Then Greek-mom, very sweet, came to me to ask for help pronouncing harassment, racism, prejudice.  I sighed: what happened?  Co-workers making remarks about Greek immigrants; others brushing her inappropriately during work.  She argued that she needed the money; I argued that she needed to establish boundaries.  In the end, the manager helped.

By midday, I was ready for some moments of Zen and took a long loop around the coast through Milford-on-Sea to watch the sailboats entering the Solant against the Isle of Wight, and up into the New Forest to go for a walk past Hatchet Pond into the moors near Brockenhurst.

It was a lovely day, sunny and warm, and helped to quiet all of the weeks' (and the houses') worries.
'Better to be the day's House-Dad, resourceful and reliable, than the proverbial Expat at the End of the Bar, the one nobody remembers when or how they arrived.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A wee bit 'o techy trouble

The problems first appeared last night, Windows Live Writer (WLW)  returning an error when I tried to push a new essay up onto Blogger. It looked like an authentication issue: I checked passwords, then had a beer and waited for Google to sort itself out.  An hour went by with no change.

A quick search turned up a number of frustrated WLW users complaining in Blogger's Help Forum.  Unhelpfully, we were informed that Google had changed it's user validation process and that Microsoft had chosen not to update it's software.  Microsoft, in turn, saw no reason to update a legacy product that had not been updated in years.

As the evening wore on, it became apparent that none of the Windows blogging clients had updated when told to, from BlogJet to BlogDesk, so nobody was able to post to Blogger.  Microsoft's Word and Outlook interfaces were also broken.

Suggested work-arounds included migrating the blog to WordPress, but the importer likewise had not been updated, so all formatting was lost if I migrated using the Export Content To File / Import Content From File suggested by other users.

I took up the challenge and found that if I mailed a copy of the WLW post to Blogger, then copied Google's HTML back to WLW, tweaked the format, and pasted the HTML back into Blogger, I could get a post published with pictures and formats.  It takes a bit of hacking at the code to smooth it out – if you are noticing small formatting glitches, that is why.

Google is now promising to work with Microsoft on a fix, we apologize for any inconvenience caused.

Some days the Internet is sooo brittle…