Friday, 21 July 2017

Ich bin ein Traveller

It's conference season and I'm just back from a week in Berlin at the GECCO conference. No presentations from me this year but one of the students I've been helping to supervise had three talks on some very nice work he's been doing about fixing bugs in software automatically. These included an entry in the finals of the HUMIES (Human-Competitive Awards), though unfortunately he didn't get a prize there (the winner used evolutionary algorithms to make a new publishable discovery on a problem in physics) one of the other talks did win a "best paper" prize which came with some sparkling wine. I was entrusted with carrying this back in my case and amazingly it survived!

There was also a lot of good networking and all the usual conferency-type stuff. A very full week although I did get a few hours on the last day to see some of the city too. German is also the only non-English language I have much and after some refreshment using Duolingo over the past few weeks I was quite pleased to be able to do some basic communication with the locals. Of course, when they spotted me pausing to remember a word they soon jumped to English but I was pretty pleased with how I did most of the time.


This time the conference hotel was very nice indeed.

Trams - what's not to like?

Apparently teletext still exists in Germany.
I genuinely enjoyed this.

In exchange for not having my room cleaned, I got a free apple. The apple was good but the major downside was not having my tea stocks replaced automatically. Boo.

"This room does not exist"
The hotel even has its own beehives. honey with breakfast is every bit as good as it sounds.


I can't resist a wall of mirrors photo opportunity.

The conference dinner was held at a pirate themed restaurant, and was basically just a barbecue for 600 people. It was very nice.

This is where I sat for most of the meal. It doesn't look much, but that white wall is actually the famous one.

Here's the other side of the same wall.

Obligatory tourist photo.

Additional tourism.

Checkpoint Charlie. I can still remember this place being on the news (okay, so it was 28 years ago that the wall came down, but I still remember!) so it felt a bit weird to stand here so freely.

Currywurst. I have eaten a lot of meat the past few days.

Esther is pleased that I'm back (so it everyone else - including me!) Nevertheless this made me smile lots! That's the present I got her - an I (heart) Berlin bear
For some reason I really like the Ampelman - so there was only one option for my conference umbrella this time

All in all, 100% successful trip. But very good to be back.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Handiest

It's baby-hand-stare time again! At about two months in, much the same as Lydia, Miriam and Naomi, Esther has discovered her hand, and more importantly that it seems to be something over which she has control. This is fascinating:


of course, the real goal seems to be to get it mouthward...


alas at the moment it just end up in the eye. Oh well.




Beach

Our church does a trip to the seaside once a year. We've always had some kind of clash before but this time we were able to make it and had a lot of fun! The trip was to Silver Sands beach at Aberdour - a wee bit of a drive but very good for a play and a picnic...


Naomi and Miriam made themselves into mermaids!


Lots of fun as the waves come in

The girls wanted to inspect the gazebo at the end of the beach with a surprising degree of excitement

The beach was pretty!

Gazebo-tastic

Lydia was playing a game where she stamped her feet, growled, and said "I'm a crocodile!". Naturally I was not allowed to film this...