Fallen pods

It looks like the remnants of Spring are going away, as Summer digs in here in Israel. These pods have been falling from their trees for a couple weeks now. We had especially hot weather yesterday, and it seems to have accelerated the process. This morning, ground near these trees was covered in these dried up seed pods. I wanted to capture the scene before they’re swept away.

Walking through the narrow streets of Rome

Even though I was in Rome for a team meetup, we had a free day on the Friday. I took a train to the central station in Rome with one of my colleagues, with the intention to go visit some of the attractions we’d read about on foot.

We were happy to see the various sites from the outside. We didn’t want to spend our day waiting in lines. Our first stop was the Colosseum.

As you can imagine, it’s a pretty popular tourist destination. One of our colleagues mentioned that it isn’t really worthwhile waiting in lines to see the inside so I took some photos of the outside instead.

From there we walked towards the Altare della Patria, via a series of ruins. There was some work being undertaken along the route so the pedestrian walkways were pretty busy. The ruins are pretty spectacular in themselves. I just kept thinking that they’re almost scaled up versions of the smaller ruins we’ve seen here in Israel (yup, the Romans left their mark here too).

The Altare della Patria is a pretty spectacular structure. It’s pretty over-the-top, and apparently locals refer to it as the “Typewriter”.

It’s a little difficult to get a sense of the scale of the building from the photos, but it’s really big.

At that point in the day, it was time for lunch. We walked for a little bit to move out of the overpriced tourist zone, and settled for a small cafe in an alley somewhere nearby. I definitely achieved my goal of eating pizza in Rome, and the pizza I had was pretty good.

As much as I enjoyed the ancient remnants of the Roman Empire, I think the blended modern-ancient architecture of modern Rome appeals to me more. We walked in the rough direction of the Pantheon through narrow streets. I loved walking through those streets, peering down narrower alleys. This stroll was a real highlight of the trip for me.

I was surprised when we arrived at the Piazza Navona. After walking through these narrow roads, this huge square suddenly opened before us.

It’s pretty much what you expect when you think about some European public square, complete with ornate fountains, and cafes along the edges. I really like the space, although I don’t feel like my photos quite do the space justice.

From there, we made our way to our hotel, but not before stopping off at popular Gelato spot called Frigidarium. We were told that this is the place to get Gelato. We weren’t the only ones who heard this.

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The famous Frigidarium Gelato spot

The Gelato was good, sure, and it was worth the visit. I think I agree with my colleague that the Gelato spot near our hotel was just as good, if not better. Still, if you’re in the area, I can recommend it.

From there we continued back to our hotel, passing Castel Sant’Angelo, and making our way through Piazza San Pietro, in the Vatican City.

It was a great way to spend the day, and get to know Rome a little better. It’s certainly my favourite way to explore a new city.

You can find more, higher resolution photos from the day here.

Spectacular views of Rome from Gianicolo Hill

On one of the days I was in Rome, we hiked up Gianicolo Hill (I’m just calling it that, it may have a better name). It was a nice hike up from the area we were staying in to what seems like a popular vantage point where you can see much of Rome.

The views of Rome from Gianicolo Hill are pretty spectacular. You can get a sense of the history of the city when you look out at the buildings ahead of you. It’s pretty remarkable.

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You can literally see much of Rome from there. The view actually reminds me of the view from the Rhodes Memorial in Cape Town.

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We arrived there late in the afternoon. We were due to meet up with the rest of our team at Pappa Rex Ristorante, near our hotel, for dinner so we didn’t hang around very long.

Still, it was a good hike up there, and back down again. It was certainly a great way to work up an appetite for dinner at what became our go-to restaurant for most of our meals.

You can find higher resolution versions of my photos here.

The Explainer

A big part of my role as a Happiness Engineer at Automattic is explaining stuff to our users. I have a knack for it, particularly when it comes to email support.

I commented to some colleagues today that I should change my job title to “Explainer” (we can basically choose our job titles at Automattic). One of them came up with this awesome mashup:

The Explainer

I had to share it. It’s awesome!

Another terrific introduction to bash scripts

Tania Rascia published a great introduction to bash scripting titled “How to Create and Use Bash Scripts“.

I especially like her git deploy script. I’ve been thinking about writing something along these lines for a little while now.

Tania creates a lot of really useful stuff, and this is just her latest contribution. If you’re interested in shell scripting, it’s well worth checking out.

My first Field Notes notebooks

Reading about how big a fan of Field Notes notebooks Jamie Rubin is, got me thinking about trying these versatile paper capture devices out. I eventually ordered a pair of Pitch Black Dot-Graph notebooks in late April, to be delivered to me by post.

I picked them up from the post office this morning, and I really like them!

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I love the inner covers!

Even though I prefer digital over paper, I still like taking some notes with pen and paper. It helps keep me focused on what I’m doing, largely because there aren’t any notifications, pop-ups, and other windows to switch to when you’re writing in a paper notebook.

What I typically do after I’ve taken my notes is scan them into Evernote (usually with the Evernote app). That way I have the best of both worlds: paper and pen for more focused notetaking, and a searchable digital record afterwards.

I chose dot-graph paper because it seems like a great compromise between lined and graph paper. I don’t usually take notes in a linear fashion. I like drawing, adding annotations, and so on. Dot-graph paper seems like a good fit for that. Just enough visual structure for my notes.

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The HumanWrites Writable

Another notebook that I’m interested in is the HumanWrites Writable, although I haven’t bought one yet. I love the dot-graph paper, and the HumanWrites mission to help further children’s education.

For the time being, though, I’m looking forward to using my Field Notes notebooks, hopefully in really productive, and creative ways.

A stroll through the Vatican City

I went for a relatively quick stroll through the Vatican City with a colleague this afternoon. It’s spectacular, and busy. I snapped a couple photographs along the way.

I’m planning to return there tomorrow morning to spend some more time taking better photos.