Archive for the ‘Wellington’ Category

nerd nite 19: masheeeens

Masheeeens, more commonly called ‘machines’, are widely used these days, in everything from this to, well, that.

Our three speakers will amaze and enthrall on subjects related to these remarkable man-made objects, on Monday November 18th, at the Hotel Bristol, 6pm*.

As always, nerd nite is a FREE event (with 2 for 1 meal specials, hooray!), so bring yourself, your loved ones and your nemeses.

See you there!

Note: speakers are not necessarily listed in order of appearance.

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As always, we want to hear from you if you would like to speak, hear a talk on a specific subject, or volunteer someone to speak.

* Speaker start at 6:30pm, but beware trying to find a table/seating if you cut it too fine!

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Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc

Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc

Sticky Buds And Bootsectors
Adam ‘metlstorm’ Boileau 

Just over 25 years ago, the most successful DOS era-virus started its rampage around the world’s IBM PC XTs via 5.25″ floppy disks. Stoned, the classic boot-sector infector virus, went global; shipping from the factory on Seagate hard disks as late as 2007, but from humble beginnings – right here on the corner of Cuba and Manners. This is the story of Stoned; perhaps Wellington’s most successful tech startup.

Bio: Adam ‘metlstorm’ Boileau is a security consultant with Insomnia Security, organiser of Kiwicon, and news pundit on award-winning podcast Risky.biz. In his spare time he owns and operates a unix beard.

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3d printing a 3d printer
Tim Rastall

3D Printing: You can print Guns (only a darwin award candidate would use). You can Print busts of Master Yoda. What the hell else is it good for? Well, it’s pretty good if you like designing and building 3d printers.

Tim Rastall is a Wellington based project manager, parent and tinkerer, he’s also got a bit of 3d printer obsession….. OK a lot of a 3d printer obsession. A year an a half ago, for reasons that are now quite vague, Tim embarked on a project to build a 3d printer. 6 months later he had one. Sadly it wasn’t quite as awesome as he expected, so he started making some upgrades. A Year later, he’s still making changes to this ever evolving device that prints it’s own upgrades. What’s more, along the way, Tim learned enough to start designing a new printer, using the original to produce parts for it’s successor.

Tim is going to bring one of his current printer projects in for a show and tell, and will talk about the thriving international community of makers contributing to the rapid evolution of open source 3d printing technology and provide some idle speculation on what the likely developments in the field will be over the next few years.

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The Art of Looping
Jacob Lister

Since the age of recorded music began there’s been the possibility of the loop – taking a slice of recorded sound and playing it back in repetition alongside and in time with the current performance. Loops can be built up layer upon layer to create a thick chorus of sound, from either a single instrument, or one person playing multiple different instruments.

The first modern loopers as we know them started appearing in the 1960s and 70s; magnetic tape recorders were modified to place record and playback heads a distance apart, with recording tape then literally ‘looped’ around reels. Nowadays the job is done with electronics, in stomp-box effects sitting at a musician’s feet, or with software running on laptop computers.

Jacob has been looping for years, and while not writing software for a livelihood, hacks away at his own software-based looper which runs on the linux operating system, and strums, picks, thrashes and shreds away on his various guitars. For nerd nite, he’ll explain and demonstrate the basics of looping in its various forms.

nerd nite 18: trapdoors, ninjas and getting off the grass

Wow, this nerd nite looks to be especially incredible (not that they ever aren’t, of course!).

It’ll be taking place at the Hotel Bristol, from 6pm onwards*. On September 16th.

And now for the lineup: as always, this may not be the actual order on the night 🙂

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Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc)

Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc)

Way of the Ninja: a Nerd’s hack to personality types
Linc Gasking (@DownLinc)

Personality archetypes are thousands of years old. Many different tests are available, with results which are highly variable and therefore typically discounted by nerds.

This talk explains how to hack personality typing into these four ancient categories, renamed soldiers, shamans, pirates and ninjas. You will learn practical skills about reverse engineering these types based on external cues such as clothing and cars; and what it all means.

About the speaker: In April 1999, Linc Gasking was the first person in line at the Chinese Theatre in Hollywood, where he camped out for six weeks to see Star Wars: Episode One.

He is a co-founder of Chalkle.com and Free Range Farm, a Wellington-based startup network.

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Trapdoors into the Periodic Table
Nicola Gaston (@nicgaston)

Our relationship with stuff around us – even the stuff we are made of – has undergone some pretty profound changes over the course of human history.  Funnily enough though, we are still seeking to manipulate matter into tools that are fit for purpose in the world we live in; these days, this often means worrying about the construction of materials atom by atom.

This talk will provide some examples of computational materials design with particular emphasis on what changes when we are working at the nanoscale.  As we drill right down to the atomic scale, we will explore some of the patterns in the periodic table that have left permanent marks on human society. And like any relationship, this goes both ways…

Nicola Gaston is a Principal Investigator in the MacDiarmid Institute, based at Victoria University of Wellington.  Her favourite element is gallium. At least for now.

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Get Off the Grass: Kickstarting New Zealand’s Innovation Economy
Shaun Hendy (@hendysh)

Kiwis work harder but earn less than almost any other people in the developed world. Why is this? What are Kiwis doing wrong? In this talk, Professor Shaun Hendy argues that our poor economic performance can be explained by our struggle to innovate. On a per capita basis, OECD countries on average produce four times as many patents as New Zealand. Why is this? What determines a country’s capacity for innovation?

By showing how economic geography influences productivity and rates of innovation, Hendy and Callaghan argue that if New Zealand is to grow its economy more rapidly it must build nationwide communities of innovators, entrepreneurs and businesses. It must get off the grass and diversify its economy beyond the primary sector. Can New Zealand learn to innovate like a city of four million people? Can New Zealand become a place where talent wants to live? Can we learn to live off knowledge rather than nature?

Shaun is winner of the 2012 Prime Minister’s Science Media Communication prize, co-author with the late Sir Paul Callaghan of the book Get Off the Grass, and Principal Investigator and also Theme Leader (previously Deputy Director) with the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology at Victoria University of Wellington.

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As always, nerd nite is a FREE event, so bring everyone you know!

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* Note to new people. Speakers start at about 6:30pm, but the best seating does go fast. It’s not unknown for people to rock up before six to get a good table 🙂 Also, Monday’s are two for one on all dinners, so bring your appetite and a friend!

Event shoutout: New Zealand Skeptics Conference 2013

Greetings and salutations!

 

A scant week and a bit before the fabulous nerd nite coming up on September 16th, is the New Zealand Skeptics Conference 2013.

Taking place in Wellington this year, it looks to be a goody. It will feature three days of talks, workshops and New Zealand’s first SkeptiCamp! And some dinners too, I believe 🙂

Say the organisers, “while there will be a wide range of talks and presentations this year, all of them will be based – however loosely – around the theme of science communication.”

So, yes. Head on over to the website, and seriously consider coming along! Some brilliant speakers from NZ and abroad will be speaking, including Kylie Sturgess, Martin Manning, Siouxsie Wiles and many more!

 

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P.S. I (aimee, the host of nerd nite Wellington) certainly don’t class myself in the above, but I’m giving a talk, too. Which means I’ll likely be at at least one of the dinners, and some (if not all) of the conference 🙂

P.P.S What’s a Skepticamp?

Well, it’s the first of its kind in NZ –  its going to be held the Friday before the conference, and conference registration is NOT required to attend this event.

What’s does it entail? Its a user driven conference that tries to distance itself from the images typically associated with professional conferences; expensive, sponsor driven and with a fixed format that’s guided by a favoured few. For this reason, the term “un-conference” has often been used to describe them.

Organised on the day (or close to it), anyone can give a talk or run a workshop provided that they a) stick to the timeframe and b) are prepared to answer questions and engage with the crowd after their talk. Being skeptical, we expect speakers to be able to back their talks/claims/bold faced assertions with facts and references (citation needed).

nerd nite 17: (bit)coins, geonet and other strange creatures

Greetings, nerdlings!

Time for another nerd nite Wellington – did you know we’ve now been holding these for _three_ years? Yeah. Wow. The mind boggles (this being the longest time aimee’s ever done one thing ever).

It’ll all be happening at the Hotel Bristol on July 22nd, from 6pm (with speakers starting at about 6:30).

So, for this most auspicious 17th nerd nite, we bring you the following!

[As always, not necessarily in this order]

nerd nite 17 poster

Click to enlarge to full, printable size (for your office, school etc)

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Bitcoin: How it works
Hamish MacEwan (@HamishMacEwan)

The title is a bit of a weasel as we’re going to demonstrate Bitcoin clients (aka “Wallets”) doing Bitcoin exchange. That is how it works. The cryptographic and network nuts and bolts of how it works are not going to fit in the available time. But we will have time to see “how it works” with a quick overview of significant elements in the Bitcoin ecology and what Bitcoin’s work in the future could be.

Hamish MacEwan, Open ICT Consultant and long time technology observer and commentator on Radio New Zealand National.

Did the earth move for you?
Ewen McNeill

When the earth moves, people rush to the GeoNet website (http://www.geonet.org.nz/) to find out where the earthquake was located. Take a whirlwind “behind the scenes” tour of how earth movement turns into something you can look at online, in a matter of minutes. Prior IT knowledge not necessary: complicated aspects will be explained via interpretive dance (aka hand waving!).Ewen McNeill is a data communications consultant based in Wellington, who has assisted GeoNet with modernising their network infrastructure. He has been around telecommunications since 9600bps modems were Woah! Super Fast! Ewen is not a geologist, nor does he play one on TV

Tales from the Big Biota Barn*
…Johanna Knox (hah! you were expecting a ‘mc’ in the name somewhere, weren’t you :P)

In some quarters it’s a cardinal sin, but it’s hard to resist attributing human qualities to other life forms – and it always has been. Johanna Knox takes us on a romp through our long history of anthropomorphising plants and fungi.

She asks – should we actually all do more of it? Would it help counter society’s current preoccupation with commodifying nature?

Johanna is the author of A Forager’s Treasury: a New Zealand guide to finding and using wild plants, as well as the children’s fiction series The Fly Papers, about sentient carnivorous plants.

*The Big Biota Barn is a huge and marvellous warehouse of life-forms that exists only in the world of The Fly Papers.

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As always, nerd nite is free and open, because that’s how aimee likes things (where possible :P). Bring your nerdy friends, non-nerdy friends, kids, weird aunts/uncles, grandparents, and everyone else.

And, if you or anyone you know would like to speak, GET IN TOUCH! I’m always on the lookout for more speakers 🙂 – aimee

Trip to the seals and wind farm!

Hi all

Following our super successful nerd nite 15, one of our nerd niters approached me with a fantastic deal. He’s involved with a tour company who regularly do trips to the seal colony and windfarm out by Makara, and they’d be super happy to give nerd niters (and their partners and friends and whatnot) a huge discount on one of their tours!

So, details thus far:

Date: 4 May

Time: 8:30am

Cost: $50, payable in cash or by credit card to the driver

Length of tour: 4 hours, including a tea break (refreshments provided, but you can bring more if you want!)

Location: Seal Colony at Tongue Point, by the Karori Rock Lighthouse, and the West Wind wind farm, on Terawhiti Station.

Meetup: You can meet the bus at two points. 1) is at the Wellington iSite in the CBD, at 8:30am. 2) is at the bus stop opposite the railway station at 8.40(Bunny St, by McDonalds).

Minimum 4 people to make it work, max 18. If there are more than 18 interested, we may mount a second tour, though, so please don’t be discouraged!

If you’re in, please RSVP asap to me using the Contact page on this website. I need final RSVPs by end Thursday 2 April.

Huzzah! Looking forward to seeing you all there 🙂

Note: sadly, Nat, who spoke about windfarms for nerd nite 15, can’t join us on the tour, so you’ll get fewer intricate details. BUT we get more seals!

OK, sure, we'll be climbing into the hills on the _other_ side, but still!

OK, sure, we’ll be climbing into the hills on the _other_ side, but still!

 

nerd nite 16: building

This nerd nite – our sixteenth! – will look at buildings things. Building structures, building adventures, building Arduinos. Hooray for the makers!

Click to enlarge and print out for your office/school etc!

Click to enlarge and print out for your office/school etc!

As usual, nerd nite will start from 6pm, with speakers beginning at about 6:30pm. It’ll take place on Monday, May 13th, at Hotel Bristol (our official home, dontcherknow).

Our speakers, listed in an order they may not necessarily actually speak in, below. See you there!

Nerd nite is a free-entry community education event, where passionate people talk about their loves while their audience eats and quaffs beer (or whatever). We’re always looking for speakers and topics, so get in touch!

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Title: Rocking in the Free World with Post-Tensioned Timber Buildings!
David Carradine

Post-tensioned timber buildings were being developed as early as 2004, but following the Christchurch Earthquakes there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance of these buildings as one of the possible ways to create beautiful, resilient and sustainable structures that have the potential for immediate reoccupation following seismic events like those experienced in Christchurch. How do these buildings work? Why use timber? How are they different from other buildings? Come find out what the hype is all about and get a short lesson in earthquake engineering without the need for your calculator or pocket protector, although both are optional.

Engineer, woodworker, builder and breaker of wooden objects. I have worked as an experimental researcher in the field of timber structures for the past 15 years, testing everything from single nail connections up to 15 meter long poles made from Brazilian hardwoods and lots of things in between. I came to New Zealand in 2008 to work as a Timber Research Engineer with the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC) in Christchurch where I had the pleasure of working with a team of very talented people from around the world in a effort to develop post-tensioned timber buildings for multi-storey applications. While in Christchurch I also had the fortune/misfortune of experiencing all of the major earthquakes and most of the subsequent aftershocks, after which I spent moths evaluating buildings and learning what happens to buildings subjected to seismic loading beyond that required in the building codes. I currently work for the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) as a structural engineer.

 

Man vs Andes – making life into an adventure
Mark Chambers

Feeling a bit of a fraud alongside previous nerdnite talkers, I’m not going to talk about my latest research or climate change or even computers. I am, however, going to talk about the 6 months I spent cycling through South America whilst attempting to make it sound more than just “hey check out my cool holiday snaps”.

Currently I’ve no idea how to do that, but I have a month to think about it!

In my 9-5 I am a Web Developer, in my 5-9′s I’m an adventurer, brewer, baker and candlestick maker. Well I probably could make candlesitcks if I wanted. And I like bicycles, very much.

 

An Aduino in Twenty Minutes
David Preece (@rantydave)

The best thing about Arduino’s being the new hotness is how ridiculously simple they are. As if to prove a point, Dave is going to build one, from individual parts, in under twenty minutes. And, y’know, talk about what the bits do or probably segue into fixing helicopters. Murphy’s law of technology demonstrations is sure to be in attendance.

David Preece just wants to make cool stuff. Normally involving software but he can feel the call of the dark side. Right now he’s doing some more Mac development and loving it.

nerd nite 16: building things

This nerd nite – our sixteenth! – will look at buildings things. Building structures, building adventures, building Arduinos. Hooray for the makers!

Click to enlarge and print out for your office/school etc!

Click to enlarge and print out for your office/school etc!

As usual, nerd nite will start from 6pm, with speakers beginning at about 6:30pm. It’ll take place on Monday, May 13th, at Hotel Bristol (our official home, dontcherknow).

Our speakers, listed in an order they may not necessarily actually speak in, below. See you there!

Nerd nite is a free-entry community education event, where passionate people talk about their loves while their audience eats and quaffs beer (or whatever). We’re always looking for speakers and topics, so get in touch!

—–

Title: Rocking in the Free World with Post-Tensioned Timber Buildings!
David Carradine

Post-tensioned timber buildings were being developed as early as 2004, but following the Christchurch Earthquakes there has been a dramatic increase in the acceptance of these buildings as one of the possible ways to create beautiful, resilient and sustainable structures that have the potential for immediate reoccupation following seismic events like those experienced in Christchurch. How do these buildings work? Why use timber? How are they different from other buildings? Come find out what the hype is all about and get a short lesson in earthquake engineering without the need for your calculator or pocket protector, although both are optional.

Engineer, woodworker, builder and breaker of wooden objects. I have worked as an experimental researcher in the field of timber structures for the past 15 years, testing everything from single nail connections up to 15 meter long poles made from Brazilian hardwoods and lots of things in between. I came to New Zealand in 2008 to work as a Timber Research Engineer with the Structural Timber Innovation Company (STIC) in Christchurch where I had the pleasure of working with a team of very talented people from around the world in a effort to develop post-tensioned timber buildings for multi-storey applications. While in Christchurch I also had the fortune/misfortune of experiencing all of the major earthquakes and most of the subsequent aftershocks, after which I spent moths evaluating buildings and learning what happens to buildings subjected to seismic loading beyond that required in the building codes. I currently work for the Building Research Association of New Zealand (BRANZ) as a structural engineer.

 

Man vs Andes – making life into an adventure
Mark Chambers

Feeling a bit of a fraud alongside previous nerdnite talkers, I’m not going to talk about my latest research or climate change or even computers. I am, however, going to talk about the 6 months I spent cycling through South America whilst attempting to make it sound more than just “hey check out my cool holiday snaps”.

Currently I’ve no idea how to do that, but I have a month to think about it!

In my 9-5 I am a Web Developer, in my 5-9′s I’m an adventurer, brewer, baker and candlestick maker. Well I probably could make candlesitcks if I wanted. And I like bicycles, very much.

 

An Aduino in Twenty Minutes
David Preece (@rantydave)

The best thing about Arduino’s being the new hotness is how ridiculously simple they are. As if to prove a point, Dave is going to build one, from individual parts, in under twenty minutes. And, y’know, talk about what the bits do or probably segue into fixing helicopters. Murphy’s law of technology demonstrations is sure to be in attendance.

David Preece just wants to make cool stuff. Normally involving software but he can feel the call of the dark side. Right now he’s doing some more Mac development and loving it.

nerd nite 15: windfarms and apocalypse preparation, information theory, and the sound of turbulence

Greetings, fellow nerd-types!

Well, this nerd nite – our 15th, if you can believe it – promises to be as awesome as all of our previous ones.

As usual, it will be held at the Hotel Bristol, from 6pm. Date? March 18th 2013.

And without further ado – our lineup!

Note: As always, this may not be the final order of the lineup…

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Prepare Your Windfarm for the Mayan Apocalypse!
(or)
What does a technical writer do for a living and how do you get that gig?
Nat Janke-Gilman

In which Nat will demonstrate how to communicate effectively to a technical audience, while going off on a polemic about reliability engineering interspersed with ribald tales of synchrotron radiation emission and the almost true story of how Wellington’s fleet of wind turbines were saved from uncertain destruction on 21 December 2012. Along the way you’ll hopefully gain a bit of insight into the broad, important and arguably under appreciated field of technical communication.

Nat Janke-Gilman has a PhD in Physics, is a certified professional engineer, is registered in NZ as an authorized person to repair toasters and other small appliances, has no formal qualification whatsoever as a writer, and is a proponent of the Oxford comma “just because”. Nevertheless Nat is currently employed as a technical writer tasked with implementing Wind Turbine Safety Rules, in which role he is essentially writing a mountain of work procedures describing how to fix wind turbines without killing oneself. He has only jumped off a wind turbine once.

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Information theory and practice
Kevin Maloney

A journey into the ones and zeros that our digital life runs on top of: Learn about the state of the art for storing and transmitting data. Understand why you can’t zip your zip files indefinitely. Marvel at the wonders of modern technology.

Kevin Maloney is an Enterprise Architect for Telecom. He has been involved in the implementation of broadband, mobile, voice and over the top services. Occasionally he flirts with the dark side and works on IT and data centres.
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Ocean Turbulence – The Earth System Viewed from the Perspective of a Record Needle
Craig Stevens

Quote: [Horace Lamb attr.] I am an old man now, and when I die and go to Heaven there are two matters on which I hope for enlightenment. One is quantum electrodynamics and the other is the turbulent motion of fluids. And about the former I am rather more optimistic.

Energy gets put into the earth system at celestial scales (tides, solar heating) and does its thing driving atmospheres and oceans – but we sort of fudge the dissipation of all this energy with somewhat ad hoc numbers in computer models. My science is to try and capture this turbulent dissipation of energy which happens at tiny scales (say ~ 2 mm) and relate it back to global scales. The approach evolved out of looking for submarine wakes after WWII but it’s not far off strapping a record needle to a torpedo and shooting it through the ocean looking for the “sound of turbulence”.

Craig Stevens is a professional physical oceanographer and amateur noise maker based in Wellington. Field expeditions have taken him from Cook Strait to Antarctica; from water-filled mine pits in Canada to tidal turbines in the U.K.; from inland seas in Europe to the southern ocean. Someone has to do it.

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As always, nerd nite is a FREE event. Bring your pets and other loved ones!

And if you, or anyone you know, would like to speak, or hear a talk about a specific subject, get in touch.

nerd nite 14: braaaaaainz

As some of you may know, this Saturday (Jan 12th) is the day on which Hal turns 21! We tried to organise a screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey to commemorate this auspicious date, but the rights are incredibly locked down. Sigh.  No matter, though!  You can all still watch it at home with your friends and loved ones, and we encourage that most strongly 🙂

Our first nerd nite of the year looks like it’s going to be a corker, and has been set for January 21st, 6pm, at Hotel Bristol.

Yes, it’s a public holiday, but the Hotel Bristol is open (and NOT charging a surcharge, yay!).

Without further ado, our speakers:

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Electrifying Brains
Gina Grimshaw

Blurb – Humans have been zapping their brains for centuries. Gina Grimshaw will show us how, and explain why we would ever want to do such a thing.

Gina is a cognitive neuroscientist in the School of Psychology at Victoria University. She thinks brains are cool.

Look Blue Go Purple
David Bimler

David Bimler is a physicist who went over to the dark side and became a perceptual psychologist. He will not use his talk about Pigments of the imagination as a way of recruiting experimental subjects from the audience.

The present story really goes back 150 million years, when colour vision in mammals turned weird. Things took another strange turn 30 or 40 million years ago: tropical plants started selectively breeding our primate ancestors to serve
as their seed-dispersal devices, and the primates used a clever biological hack to re-invent three-colour vision. Much later, colour perception was hijacked when we discovered language.

However, I will be concentrating on more recent aspects of colour research.
These include:
– the Russian Blues
– the world’s largest survey of colour language, conducted by missionaries in the 1970s
– the field-work used by Estonian linguists as an excuse to stay in Florence.

There will be colour swatches and words like ‘taupe’.

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As always, do get in touch with with me if you or someone you know would like to give a talk 🙂
See you all there!

 

Holidays!

Borrowed from NIWA’s Critter of the Week – more info on this awesome little guy at http://on.fb.me/V9BAlK

Heyho and merry holidays!

Just a quick note – book your calendars for January 21st, where we shall be having our next nerd nite – sample place, same time! It looks
like a neuro flavour…

Also, I’m TRYING to organise a screening for 2001: A Space Odyssey on Jan 12th. This is proving hellishly difficult (mutter screening rights mutter), but stay tuned!

In the meantime – have a wonderful time, dear people, and see you next year 🙂

Much love

aimee

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