• On the last day of the Malmö trip, I took the train over to Copenhagen and spent the day checking out the city, went to a Christmas market, LEGO store, and getting inspired by Scandinavian homewares. More photos on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/jo…

    A 'painting' of one of Copenhagen's main squares, done entirely in LEGO, with a life-sized LEGO model of a woman with a bicycle and flower cart in the foreground Selfie of Jonathan at a Christmas market Interior of Illum department store in Copenhagen, with criss-crossing escalators in the background and an enormous column attached with red and gold birds suspended from the ornate stained-glass roof. Aerial shot out of the aeroplane, above a blanket of thick, low clouds, with a brilliant sun shining

  • A few shots from my trip to Malmö last week to visit my brother Colin who’s just moved there, to celebrate his birthday and welcome him and his partner Claire to Europe. More photos on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/jo…

    Malmö Turning Torso Tower on a sunny day with light clouds and blue sky Malmöhus castle entrance with a bridge in the foreground Artistic orange and blue divider with Malmö University in the background and visible through a gap in the fence A few people walking along the pier leading to Ribersborgs Kallbadhus Open Air baths (Swedish sauna)

  • Got some good news that Pippin seems to have recovered and basically back to normal this morning, and I got Anthony booked on flight over to Paris today. No thanks to TAP who have been useless and I’ve been unable to speak to ANYONE to assist with the rebooking.

  • Got woken up by a cat coughing and vomiting, and an hour or so later found Pippin curled up asleep between us on the bed, but eyes squinting and not looking too good.

    Timing sucks as we are supposed to be flying out to Paris for 5 days today. Anthony thinks it’s probably just a stuck hairball. I could be imagining it but I think he has a bit of a fever and want to take him to the vet.

    In the end Anthony’s decided to stay back and get Pippin checked out and I’ll catch the flight to Paris and will try to change his booking to go tomorrow instead, if all goes well. Poor pippin, hope he’s okay.

  • Here’s another shot from tonight, an 8 minute exposure where the Milky Way is faintly visible.

  • It’s been a few years since I last did any astrophotography, and I’ve been meaning to get back to it. Tonight happened to be a pretty good night for it, so I pulled out my camera, tripod and SkyTracker, and took a few practice shots. Still need to work on focus and polar alignment, but here’s one from tonight, with Jupiter (the brightest spot above the tree) and Saturn (next brightest, to the right and slightly lower) clearly visible.

  • Tonight is the last night at our Carcavelos apartment that has been our first home in Portugal for the past 7.5 months, much of it under lockdown. Tomorrow we move to our new rental house in Palmela, near Setúbal. Looking forward to having more space and a huge outdoor area!

  • Second Pfizer shot 💉 done ✅

  • Another hurdle of Portuguese Bureaucracy passed. Just attended our SEF appointment this afternoon to get our residence permit, which was approved without any further questions or documents needed!

    Now we’re legal residents of Portugal.

  • Just tried to log in with my old @mac.com Apple ID and got hit with this prompt to verify the email address, which hasn’t worked for many years now, and doesn’t forward to my @me.com email. I guess I’m forced to change it now. RIP .Mac

  • Just received my first dose of the vaccine today.

    Huge sense of relief after several weeks of worrying about how and when we can get the jabs given our situation as new residents in Portugal, and not even having received our residence permit or national healthcare number yet.

    We made a visit to our nearest vaccination center yesterday, and enquired about what we needed to do, and they took our details and copies of documents and said they’d try to help us, and sure enough, Anthony received a phone call earlier this afternoon asking if we could make it for an appointment this evening. Did not have to think twice about it!

  • Just some grape vines, on a sunny day, at a vineyard in Alentejo.

  • Interesting Apple product announcements today. Putting the M1 into even more things. Really like the new iMac by why only 24” and not a 27” or 30” model? or with an ultrawide curved display? Gonna order the new Apple TV 4K, and some AirTags when they are available though.

  • Carcavelos Beach is busy today

    Carcavelos Beach on 18 April 2021

  • Wet weather today. Was originally planning to take a day trip out to Sintra but postponed it.

  • As a lifelong Trekkie, I want to believe.

    Astronomers find 40 Eridani A aka planet Vulcan

  • My order of some Portuguese craft beers from DoisCorvos arrived yesterday, just in time for some sampling this weekend.

  • Okay, let’s try making hot cross buns today.

    it was going so well…

    then, disaster! 😱 😭

  • I’ve pretty much done this with Facebook now, I should start doing a bit of pruning of Instagram and Twitter too.

    Deleting tweets and other social media content · Jesse Squires

  • One year of COVID-19

    In mid-February 2020, it was just a typical day at work. There was some news a colleague had brought up over lunch that a “novel coronavirus” had been discovered in China and there were outbreaks in Seattle, but not in San Francisco yet. The office building where we worked had put out a hand sanitiser stand in the main lobby but otherwise nothing else was any different from usual.

    Anthony had been scheduled for hip-replacement surgery on 27 February, and I had already spoken to my manager about taking a few days off work with a few weeks of working-from-home after that. We had been planning to be staying home for a while, so we had done a big grocery shop, and cooked big meals to be frozen so that we had ample easy meals while Anthony was recovering at home post-op. This turned out to be prescient to what was to come later.

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    On the day of surgery, I went with him to the hospital and stayed all day. Visitors were still allowed but the hallways and waiting rooms were all relatively empty. Everybody was diligently using hand sanitiser after touching anything. The operation went well and Anthony got discharged after 2 nights in hospital.

    In the following week, the news of this new virus started getting alarming. It was probably on Wednesday or Thursday morning that Anthony asked me to go to Whole Foods that very day, to stock up on non-perishable foods and some other essential groceries. Even though it was mid-day in the middle of the week, the supermarket was busy, and shelves were already thinning out and store employees were scrambling to restock whatever they could. It was probably the most stressful shopping trip in my entire life.

    Untitled

    On 11 March 2020, the WHO declared that the epidemic had become a pandemic, but the CDC and Trump administration refused to impose any restrictions or guidelines. California took the lead in imposing some restrictions to try to curtail the spread of the disease. Some restaurants and cafés had started closing or shifting to takeaway and deliveries. At the time, the CDC was not recommending wearing masks, only hand-washing, alcohol-based hand sanitiser and social distancing.

    I already made a dinner booking for Anthony’s birthday on Sunday, 15 March 2020 at Mr. Jiu’s in SF Chinatown. I checked with the restaurant, and they were still open and honouring reservations, but have adjusted the dining room layout to allow for more space between customers. We considered his post-op mobility and the pandemic situation, and decided to go ahead as it was a special occasion. We had no idea (same as everybody else) as to what was going to happen in the coming weeks or months. It was a subdued atmosphere at the restaurant. I think most people, like us, suspected it would be their last meal out for a while.

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    The next day, the City of San Francisco announced that from midnight 17 March, all residents of SF City and County are to shelter at home, with all bars, restaurants, most retail outlets and offices to close. That was The Moment when we knew shit was getting bad. Little did we know that this three week order would extend through the rest of 2020, and COVID-19 would continue to rage on across the world a year later.

    IMG_2785

    The trip back to Australia in October to December was a brief but much welcome (and needed) respite, where things almost felt normal again. Our first restaurant meal in Sydney, indoors and seated, felt very, very weird indeed, after 7 months of only home-cooked meals and takeaway or deliveries. While walking around on Oxford St, Newtown on a Saturday night, I even felt a little claustrophobic with hardly any room on the footpath to stay 1.5 m apart from everybody else.

    Upon arriving in Portugal, we had 2 weeks of relative freedom, similar to Australia, even though there was a much higher number of cases. But this was short lived, as rapidly rising case rates due the loosening of restrictions over Christmas and New Year, combined with the new, more infectious B.1.1.7 strain of SARS-CoV-2, the whole country went into lockdown again on 15 January. This is after being lauded for handling the first wave of infections well in 2020. It’s now just over two months of us getting very familiar with the inside of our apartment, but one year on, we’re better prepared and better informed, so it’s not as scary, and with effective vaccines being rolled out, there is light at the end of the tunnel now, even if it is months or even years away from when things can get back to ‘normal’ again.

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    Yesterday, we took the train into Lisbon as we had a few errands to do, but also to spend the day walking around the city. It’s the first time since we were last here on holiday in 2019. We had made a few trips into the city a few times prior since moving here, but there were strictly to get stuff done then back home. While technically the country is still under lockdown, the PM has announced a gradual re-opening plan and daily new cases are now below 600, which is well below even when we arrived in January.

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    The weather was brilliant, and it was quite a stark difference seeing the city now, compared to September 2019, revisiting some of the same locations we had previously been. With the complete absence of tourists, and hardly any people out and about, everything seemed calm, quiet, and peaceful, even in the middle of the city.

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    We got a takeaway pizza and sat at one of the parks that overlooked the city and the Tagus river. It was just bliss. We wandered through side and back streets with our cameras, discovering interesting architecture, murals and hidden plazas. We took some photos. To finish off the day, we ordered some traditional Portuguese food from a highly regarded taberna (“tavern”) to take back home (since restaurants are still closed for dine-in customers) which we thoroughly enjoyed with a fine drop of Portuguese white wine. It was a perfect day out.

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    What a year this has been, but it’s not over yet. Some other European countries are now battling their third wave of infections, and have closed their borders. People are still suffering and dying around the world. The vaccination rollout has been slower than expected due to many issues. We all still need to stay diligent and not lose hope or patience. Stay safe and stay strong, we will get through this.

    Full album with more photos

  • Dramatic sky with dark rain clouds rolling in from the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Buying an ultrawide monitor in 2021

    Anthony and I have been thinking about getting new monitors for our new WFH reality. While we have 2x 4K monitors (a 24” Dell and a 21” LG Ultrafine) in a shipping container on the way to Lisbon, we have both independently concluded that we wanted ultra wide 21:9 aspect ratio monitors. This has led into several weeks of research into what’s available out there and the rabbit-hole of specs and stats. Buying a computer monitor isn’t so straightforward anymore. There are many more brands out there (though most of them use the same panels from either Samsung or LG) and different product lines optimised for gaming, colour accuracy, or basic office work. Good luck in finding a monitor that can do more than one thing well!

    Then there’s the absolute mess of connectivity standards. That’s something we’re still trying to wrap our heads around. Apparently not all monitors can do all resolutions, refresh rates, colour bit rates on all their supported ports. It all depends on your computer (or GPU) and cable, be it HDMI, DisplayPort, Thunderbolt, USB-C and various versions thereof.

    IMG 1550

    Last night I found this post on Startech’s blog (they sell cables, adapters and docks) on various display technologies, which is a few years old now but it still helps clear some of the confusion on the connectivity types, and more specific detail on Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C DisplayPort Alt Mode. USB-C has really muddied the waters as to what signal it’s actually carrying and what works and what doesn’t when you plug things in.

    We both use Macs but I’d also like to plug in the new monitor to my PC for a bit of occasional gaming, so we want to make sure the monitors (and cables) we buy will work properly.

  • Taken a bit of time but I’m getting the hang of this new machine and grinder, and getting pretty decent crema on my espresso shots now

  • Trying some (hopefully) fab Portuguese craft beer

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