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Have just completed the first part of the latest European venture with [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya. It began with a several hour flight on Royal Thai airlnes to Bangkok arriving there in the late evening, followed by a two hour stop-over, and then around eleven hours or so with the same airline to Frankfurt which meant arriving in said destination just before seven AM local time. I took the opportunity to catch up with several SF and action films that had hitherto escpaed my vieweing; Mad Max: Fury Road (a rather silly giant car chase), Assassin's Creed (assassins versus templars, past and present, rather well done), Dead Pool (super hero comedy) and John Wick 2 (thoroughly tolerable action film with some good locations). On a late-night whim watched the original Planet of the Apes for the first time in decades, and was thoroughly impressed with the range of themes it deftly discussed (humanity in the universe, vivisection, religious vs scientific conflicts, nuclear war, youthful rebelliousness, etc) within the main characters.

After a day on a plane, what does one do? Take a day-trip river cruise through the Rhine gorge of course. The modern Hotel Colombus was kind enough to let us check-in ridiculously early to freshen up before taking a bus tour of the main sights of Frankfurt that was part of the package, and then another bus to Assmannshausen. A chairlift provides some great views of this reisling varietal valley region which of course was sampled with lunch in a restaurant that rather overdoes the nautical theme. The cruise itself was, of course, a rather picturesque location with its vineyards, historic villages, looming cliffs (including the location of the Loreli legend), and a rather impressive collection of medieval castles many of which were used for what was effectively a protection racket. Of particular personal note was the Bacharach castle (which is now a youth hostel and recently held a gaming convention) and the Mouse Tower, site of where, according to legend Bishop Hatto faced a much deserved demise. Exhausted from what is effectively two days of relentless activity, rest has come easily.
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My local favourite art deco cinema, The Astor is hosting a set of films from Soviet director, Andrei Tarkovsky. His films are famous for being slow, immersive, and powerful. Last night was his epic version of Lem's story Solaris, which I attended with Rick B., [livejournal.com profile] funontheupfield and [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya, which really does a great job of exploring a truly alien intelligence. Very much looking forward to the next two sessions, with Stalker, and then the week after, The Mirror and Ivan's Childhood. It's all been under the nominal activity list of the RPG Review Cooperative which, on a tangent, PETA have targetted Warhammer 40K for having fur-clad characters. Sunday was a session of GURPS Middle-Earth finishing an adaption of the Spider Farm scenario.

Activities on the Isocracy Network are continuing a-pace which is not unexpected given the international events. I have started a new 'blog series The Shambling Mound, which will provide a week-by-week update on the U.S. President's activities. Obviously it looks like there is plenty of material for the next issue with the current immigration bans and constitutional crisis. Steve Sprigis has added a new article, They Are Not Invincible, and of course, being in the end of the month there's a new newsletter with a particular emphasis on the upcoming meeting on the Labor-Green Alliance: Policy and Strategy, and plenty of international union actions.

Preparations for the New Zealand tour are almost complete with accommodation and HPC centre visits all arranged. As usual, despite working for the lumbering monster that is the University of Melbourne, I choose mainly cheap backpacker accommodation, and my speaking slot at Multicore World has been confirmed. I've also been plodding away at overdue European Tour posts for the University, and reviewing. This week have been also reviewing optimal network topology and equipment for HPC/cloud hybrids with throughput as the main goal. Language lessons are going well, having completed the Tetum course on Memrise, and continuing with Mandarin, German, French, Esperanto, and Spanish on a near-daily basis, along with a bit of Russian.
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In recent weeks I have had the opportunity to see a few good films on the silver screen; specifically The Grand Budapest Hotel with [personal profile] caseopaya at the slightly dilapidated Palace Balwyn. The film is beautiful, charming, funny, and in a nostalgic way, a little sad as well, as a glimpse to an idealised another time. Two other recent films have been through ACMI Cinematheque, dedicated to screening oft-forgotten classics. In this instance, attending with [livejournal.com profile] recumbenteer, watched the Soviet-era classic, Solaris, deeply immersive and psychedelic science fiction. The other viewing were from a Luis Bunel feature, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, and The Exterminating Angel. Both dealt with the trivial and hypocritical aspects of the upper classes in an absurd manner. The latter was particularly amusing when various technical problems recreated the psychology of the film in the audience itself.

Feasted on Tuesday evening at Quanjade Peking Duck Restaurant for the annual dinner of the Australia-China Friendship Society, which Anthony L., is president of the Victorian branch. A relatively small gathering, attendees included an expected collection of politicians and diplomatic staff. Guest speaker was former Victorian Premier John Brumby, who spoke extremely well on the sheer scale and importance of Chinese development and was able to impress with his sheer knowledge of facts and figures at hand. Took the opportunity to have a brief chat with him; it had been quite a while since we've conversed and thanked him for his role in setting up VPAC.

Another episode of cheesequest with [livejournal.com profile] ser_pounce, [livejournal.com profile] hathhalla, and [livejournal.com profile] caseopaya saw the consumption of one of the oddities of the skit - czechoslovakian sheep's milk cheese. Specifically I went for a Slovakian orthodox Easter feast with savoury and sweet hrudka with paska, along with a main of bryndzove halusky and chicken paprikash.

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Diary of a B+ Grade Polymath

August 2017

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