Pitt Rivers Museum

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We recently spent a week in Oxford for a family wedding, the first extended period of time we’ve spent there since Mr. Bsag and I moved away nearly 13 years ago. We spent a few wonderful days wandering around Oxford re-visiting favourite old haunts, one of which was the Pitt Rivers Museum. I’ve written about the museum before, but it continues to fascinate and delight me. I also find the collection quite moving. I think the typological display of the collection emphasises the shared humanity of disparate people. There are — of course — many interesting differences between cultures in the objects they make and use, but much more striking are the similarities. All humans make clothes, musical instruments and objects related to their religious practices, whatever the differences in the types of those items. Unfortunately they all also make weapons to kill and injure one another (of which more later). The overwhelming impression you get is that human material culture is driven by our shared needs, beliefs and fears, and that the differences tend to be rather superficial.

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Sewing frenzy

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I’ve just come out the other side of a bit of a frantic period of sewing. My brother is getting married next week, and so of course I wanted to make something nice to wear. Naturally, I have known the date of the wedding for ages, so I had plenty of time to plan what I wanted to make, and sew in a relaxed and leisurely way. Did I do that? Reader, I think we both know the answer that that rhetorical question. I did not. I waited until about a month before the wedding before starting my dress, then made some stupid decisions about a top layer, panicked, and ended up going on a three-day sewing bender less than a week before the wedding.

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Using Zapier to post to Blot

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As part of my move to simplify my hosting setup, I started experimenting with using Blot as a replacement for Tumblr to host my micro blog Slipstream. This is an amazing service which allows you to connect up a Dropbox folder, and then just throw files in that folder (Markdown, Plain text, images, and so on), and they will — apparently by magic — be turned into a nice looking website. It’s really fantastic. Since Dropbox folders are accessible to so many apps (both on the desktop and on iOS), this makes it really easy to post from anywhere, and also to automate cross posting. This is where Zapier comes in.

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Netlify

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If you’re reading this, I’ve successfully managed to move this site from Linode to Netlify. Basically, I had heard quite a few people talking about Netlify, and got curious about it. It’s a specialist service allowing you to deploy static sites extremely easily by simply pushing a commit to one of the git hosting services (like Github or Bitbucket).

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Borobudur Temple

I always smile wryly to myself when first year undergraduates say goodbye at the end of term with a “Have a nice holiday!”. They tend not to realise (at least until I’ve enlightened them) that they may be on holiday, but we academics are not. Summer can be one of the busiest times, when you try to cram in research, conferences, and updating your teaching for the coming year. This year has been no exception, and I have barely stopped since the Spring. I have just got back from a return trip to Indonesia1, this time for a conference. It was a productive and useful trip, but as is often the case for conferences, we spent most of it in a windowless room, listening to talks, rather than exploring the country. The one exception was a brilliant visit to the Buddhist temple complex at Borobudur.

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Kalle and Flint

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Kalle tunic

As I make progress with my sewing, I’m trying to be a bit more strategic about what I make. When you start out, the giddy excitement of actually making things means that you flit between patterns, making anything shiny that catches your eye. That’s not necessarily a bad thing (and it’s certainly fun), but I’ve been trying to plan a bit more thoughtfully, and think about what kinds of garments I need to give me maximum flexibility. I’ve also tried to slow down a bit, and make each item as polished as I possibly can.

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Slipstream and micro.blog

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I seem to be continually tinkering with different ways to bring together my various bits of activity on other social media platforms (e.g. bookmarks on Pinboard, photos on Flickr, reviews of films on Letterboxd, and so on) into some kind of vaguely coherent stream, somewhere that is under my own control. The last bit of tinkering about 18 months ago resulted in a cobbled together system in which activity on various sites triggered IFTTT recipes, which created formatted text files in my Dropbox, which I could then tweak to post on a Hugo-generated blog.

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The Peregrine by J. A. Baker

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This book was an extremely kind gift from James (@unbadged on Twitter). I’ve been meaning to write a review of it for ages, because it completely floored me. I don’t think I’ve ever read such beautiful nature writing, and I’m extremely grateful to James for introducing me to it.

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Blackbird singing at the break of dawn

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We’ve just got back from another peaceful break in North Norfolk. It has been an incredibly busy start to the year, and I am off on a work trip to Indonesia next weekend, so it was something of an island of tranquillity in a sea of turbulence. Or something like that. As usual, we enjoyed walking (I’ve posted some photos on Flickr), eating some amazing food, and getting the best and most uninterrupted nights of sleep we have had for ages.

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