20 November 2013

Minecon and Awesome Orlando 2013

I was very excited for Minecon this year. I attended the previous official ones, in Las Vegas and Paris but never as a Mojang employee before. What can I say... This one was definitely the best one yet. I enjoyed every minute spent with the team and amazing volunteers. it was a pleasure to work with my colleagues from the support office as well, quite a different setting than the office!

Sadly we did not have a lot of time to walk around the expo floor, but I managed to sneak a peek before the convention started. Quality of some pictures is poor, due to my phone camera being accidentally set to HDR mode :D The expo floor was AMAZING. When we walked in the first thing we saw was a HUGE barn and lovely animals Greg and his team prepared this year. Took some pictures of the horses and donkeys (my favourite) before the crowd arrived. Diorama area was not finished so I did not take any pictures hoping to see finished sets photographed with good camera later. Sadly I did not find any pictures yet.

Creepers gonna creep!

Steve is getting ready. 

Sheepsies are being silly and fall on their faces.

We had giant creepers before - this time it was giant Steve right in the middle of the hall. Very cool and impressive:

Hi giant Steve!

I missed some panels due to work, but I hope I will watch them soon, since everything was recorded. I was really interested in panel for parents, Autism & Minecraft, Future of Minecraft (obviously because Nathan was on the stage!) and few others. I managed to listen and watch a bit of the panels that took place in the panel room I was working at for two days. It was a lot of fun!

Here some more pictures from Minecon taken with my crappy phone :(
The gates to the main expo hall... We were all impressed and amazed. It looked absolutely brilliant with the smoke and the lights, looked like a real portal! Great idea, my congratulations to the person who came up with this!

The gates

Ha ha! Trapped!

This is self explanatory. I hope.

After the first day of Minecon we were very lucky to go to Island of Adventure for few hours. The convention attendees had the park for themselves for few hours. This is always such an amazing treat. The park is designed for 40.000 people (as far as I remember) but we could enjoy it in a small group of around 7.000!!! Almost no waiting!

Very smooth ride!

I didn't go on the Hulk the first day. I was too tired and stuffed with food to risk it, but I tried it next day. Nathan however loved it, and he is not so fond of roller coasters. The ride is relatively smooth, so if you have a chance to try it out and you hesitate - it is not as bad as it looks.

Gates to evil!

One thing about the amusement parks that is a bit weird and sometimes annoying is the picture taking while you are most terrified and/or have your eyes closed. Those pictures are also very expensive and not very good due to bad lighting and spartan conditions. We always go to see how it looks and end up not buying it. Well Island of Adventure and Jurassic Park offer you a different experience. When you enter the park you will be given a card with QR code, which you can use in places of interest to take a photo. Jurassic Park is a very good place to do that - we passed few picture spots with crashed cars with huge dinos behind them. This seems to be a solution to our problems - we never have any pictures together with Nathan... However upon our first visit to the park this system was not offered to us :( So we still have no pictures!



AND NOW LADIES AND GENTLEMAN - THE BEST DAMN THING IN THE WORLD:


Yes, it is Hogwarts. I want to live there... no kidding. I is this rare occasion that I am happy as a child. It doesn't happen very often, actually last time I remember was when I got my first contact lenses and I could see the world again in full size, with no distortion (15 years ago).
I was jumping with joy... and it didn't feel fake. The place is beautiful - we arrived at twilight to snowy village of Hogsmeade and made our way to Hog's Head for a pint of Butterbeer.


Everything looks so real and amazing, the staff is wearing appropriate attire in every place of interest. They are all very chatty and nice. 

He moved... I swear...

I can not have fizzy drinks so I picked the frozen Butterbeer, it was yummy! Next time I will ask just for the foam from the top, as it was the most delicious, sweet and creamy drink I have ever had. I hear the bubbly version is even better - make sure you try both!

After a quick pint, not to waste time, we proceeded with exploring. We stood in a long long line for the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. Walking through the corridors of Hogwarts feels magical - the pictures on the walls actually move and look very real. You can visit Dumbledore's office, Gryffindor common room, Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom with Hermione, Ron and Harry present! Later on you join a flying adventure with Harry. BRILLIANT! I regret we did not go there over and over again...
Pure magic.

Post office next to Ollivanders

Owl post office - so crowded!

Three Broomsticks
The owl post office is full of parcels waiting to be picked up, Three Broomsticks serves Butterbeer and pumpkin juice. You can find curious items at Zonko's and chocolate frogs at Honey Dukes. I visited the website https://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/ and now I am sad I missed so much stuff. There is plenty to see and we did not cover that in two days! I guess the rest of the park was too distracting. There is always next time...

Chocolate frog anyone?

This silly guy photobombed me. I loved it!

What to get! What to get?
Visiting students.

Bye bye Hogsmeade!

I don't know what else to write about this place. I do not want to repeat word "magical" all the time. But it was. If you want to feel like a child and you like Harry Potter novels - if you are ever in Orlando - make sure you find few hours to explore the Island of Adventure. It is worth it. I am sure I will go back!

This makes me wonder about other beloved books and movies - would I ever feel like I felt in Hogsmeade in any other theme park? I know for sure that even Lord of the Rings park would not make me feel this way. Maybe Witcher and A Song of Ice and Fire? I think they are too serious tho... Do you have any books or movies you would like to see made into a theme park?

Moving along with this post... There is so much ground to cover! Nothing as exciting as Hogsmeade but still lots of fun!

Two very distinctive elements of Orlando's scenery are upside-down houses. We visited one of them, Wonder Works, with our friends Sharon and Erik. To be completely honest with you - we did not know what to expect. We thought - eh maybe 1 hour to see this upside down thing and lets go to dinner! Well... I think we spent about three hours there and did not play, touch and see everything.

Nathan and Erik felt like at home.
  Three floors full of fun. I am not going to describe all of it, because this post is long enough already. Lets proceed to the pictures that will show you some of the cool things we did.

Tesla coil!
This is so awesome. Thank you Mr. Tesla! I never had a chance before to play with magic like that!

Erik and Ola at the bubble lab!
And how cool is it to end up in a giant bubble?!

Did not hurt at all!
Did not hurt a bit. I would even say it was comfy. But I like to sleep on my belly.. that could be a bit of a problem.

Double bubble.
Double bubble power! Make up!

Poland CAN into space!
DO NOT TELL ME POLAND CANNOT INTO SPACE!
We can and we will!

Up, Up and Away!
Ok now... I do not have a fear of heights... but this guy on the left does! It is Erik aka. Grum! He was a trooper... He went to the most scary passages and pushed his limits. It is inspirational to see people fighting their fears. Even with the harness on you do not feel very safe if there is NOTHING to hold on to and you have to really watch your step. Very well done my friend! Very well done!

After a lovely adventure time we went to a great restaurant in Orlando, which was kinda recommended to us by friends from Mindcrack team -  Fogo de Chão - a Brazilian Steakhouse.
Lovely food and amazing service, fun experience and definitely something different! Even tho I am not a meat enthusiast - I was very happy and impressed with the formula & presentation.

Mix it up!

Some gourmet salads from a huge buffet to start the meal. When you are done with those they supply some hot side dishes like potatoes, fried bananas (delicious and my favourite) and polenta sticks. The red card you can see in the corner on the picture below is a flip card. One side (red) says - No thanks! - and it is placed like that at the beginning of the meal. 

Get ready to flip!

 When you are done with your salads and you are ready for some meat, you flip it over to the other side (green) that says: Yes please! and then suddenly meat appears. And it is on a sword...

Classy rats! (actually chicken)

The staff circles around with different types of meat in the swords and tridents, you are able to pick what you want and how well done you want it. They cut a piece directly to your plate or let you pick it right from the sword with little tongs. Now... you have to remember to flip the card back to the No Thanks! side or they will just keep coming and coming... 

Everyone who joined us was really happy with the choice of the restaurant. I liked it especially because I eat small portions of food and I had a huge choice and I was not afraid to taste new stuff. Which I would not do in a regular restaurant - being to afraid to end up with a huge portion of food I don't like. I wish the would be more places like this!
If you ever have a chance to try it out - do not hesitate! It was awesome!

And now for some fantastic randomness: 

Iconic.

We visited Universal Studios - it was nice, but nothing compare to Harry Potter experience for me.
I enjoyed Minion Mayhem from Despicable Me 2 - probably my favourite raid along with E.T.
I enjoyed The Simpsons Ride, Transformers 2 and Revenge of the Mummy too!

Go west!


I enjoyed M&M's even more. I am a fan of Peanut Butter version. Yummy!


 Then I enjoyed even more M&M's! That's right. MORE!

We did a lot of cool things in Orlando, met hordes of nice people, gave and received hugs from old friends!
But it was soon time to say good bye! As it is now for me! We continued our trip and moved to the other coast - sunny California. But that is a story for the next post!

Bye bye Minecon! We will miss you!

I hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did! Thank you all for reading!
Don't be shy - share your thoughts!

20 July 2013

Domicile aka. our new home.



"Decorate your home. It gives the illusion that your life is more interesting than it really is."
Charles M. Schulz

We were very happy when we first moved to Stockholm. We had a nice apartment on Sodermalm, peace and quiet, lots of space. That space however was mainly unused. We had a huge living room which was not occupied 98% of the time, decent sized bedroom that became very small after we put two computers in there, spacious kitchen to make more mess.
Because of the huge and  impossible to move computer desk in the bedroom we could not occupy the space as we wanted to. When we knew for sure the lease is not going to be renewed for the next year we had to look for a new place. Luckily we are somewhat very fortunate with the apartments... The first one we had our eye on was gone in a day, before we were able to go and see it in person. We made 3 more appointments but after seeing the first one, we kinda already knew we want it. I went to see the other two, out of curiosity and to compare. There was absolutely no competition. We were happy to be accepted by the board and move in.


There is few things we discovered after moving in, that we are not very happy about, but all on all - it was a good choice. I will give you a little tour with commentary. I decided to show you some parts, since I am still working on making this place a home. In the previous flat we kinda didn't care that much, but after a year in Stockholm I figured that even if this place is only for a year - I want to make it my own.

This process is not very problematic in general due to everything being white. This is a main theme in Sweden when it comes to apartments. I guess it makes sense since the market is very dynamic, it is easier to sell a flat that is not heavily customized. Not everyone wants to have purple walls and yellow ceiling...

Not everything is finished yet of course but I am doing my very best to geek the place out! My dream apartment would be much more customized and focused on few themes, but since I am not a millionaire I think I will still have to wait a bit to do it.


Nice rack.
This is basically what you see when you enter the flat. Few hooks for your coats and hats and umbrellas and bears.. I do not like our coats hanging there, they live in the closet, so I mainly use this space for decoration and occasionally for guests. The bear was found on a car boot market in Täby few weeks ago (25 SEK!), he is called Robert, his joints are connected to his body with buttons and are movable. A absolutely love this bear so he always greets me when I come back home.



I assume girl lived here before... So we have a huge mirror. There is a little space right before the bathroom door, where I installed my vanity table. There is no pictures of it yet, since it is not finished. I am still looking for a proper mirror. I had one that would be PERFECT, but it got stolen from my cart in Ikea, before I got a chance to pay for it. Adorable lamp with huge light bulbs (which are not easy to find, or cheap) was already here when we moved in and I am very happy with it, so if we ever move out I will have to look for one exactly like that.


Here is another thing that was here already, which we really like as well. I have to be homes, having those shelves installed like on the picture would probably never come to my mind. Most picture frames are empty for now. As you can see, we have a collection of robots. The small robot on the bottom shelf is called Robert and he is standing next to his twin brother Robert (painting). The posters of robots at the top were a gift from Nathan, he bought them on a funny market in Seattle. There is a poster of Dalek blueprints on the floor. So this is what you actually see when you enter the apartment. The space is divided from livingroom with a build in closets. 


No, we are not huge fans of Jimi Hendrix. That poster was already here when we moved in and sadly we can not remove it for now. At night his face is reflected in kitchen windows, which freaks me out a bit... That little space you see is the back of the build in closets I was talking about. We are planning to add this pretty Star Trek LCARS print on the back of the closets (200x75 cm).

On Etsy!
My PC is standing to the right, but since my desk is small and ugly I am not showing it off :D
The rest of the room is pretty much just a couch and TV corner.



Ideally I would get rid of the ugly plastic table, probably the candle holder and replace it with book shelf.
But for now it is really empty without curtains. I am not planing to add them either. The room stays very bright all day long!


TV corner. We do not watch TV at all. I plug the TV to either one of our consoles or my PC to watch shows or movies. Both Nathan and me do not like to keep DVDs. I have only Battlestar Galactica (cause you just have to watch that in good quality) and Game of Thrones which was really nicely released in Poland. We have few games that either came with the consoles or we got for some special reason. I don't think we could start a collection. We believe in downloading on demand :D


 All the books you can see there are Terry Pratchett. The rest of our books is in the bedroom closet waiting for a new shelf. There was just no space. Sadly we had to throw away some books when we were moving. Not something either of us wanted to do, we just left the near paper recycling garbage bin. I hope someone took good care of them. Ah yes... almost forgot to mention this. I really do not like to keep silly memorabilia that is just basically dust holder so we have only very few of them. As you can remember Robert the Bear, Robert the Robot plus mini Deathwing from Blizzcon 2010, Toby the gryphon (unfinished Warhammer model), Tyrael from Blizzcon 2011, Creeper on the windowsill and vintage Mickey Mouse from Minecon 2012.


My favourite part is of course the balcony. I like to sit the in the mornings, with my coffee and a cigarette. I read books and enjoy the Swedish summer. I started to grow some plants, dill for fresh potatoes and some parley for starters. Sadly it was really late in the year so I don't think we will be able to enjoy it anytime soon. But no rush, this is only an experiment. Behind the chair there is a huge pot full of lavender, which grows very slowly so I am not expecting to see anything anytime soon.



We also have a kitchen, bedroom and a bathroom. Bedroom needs some more work but since it has built in closet it doesn't give me a lot of options. I guess since we only use bedroom for nighttime activities it is not a big deal not to keep it super geeky. I do have my spare screen and a laptop there to watch some shows before bed and my pretty Jouets poster (see below) and of course a nice comfy bed!


I have few things I do not like in my apartment. Not this one particularly, just in general. This is something that was planted in my by my mum and I don't really mind. So as I mentioned before, I do not like coats hanging in the hallway (if you start with one it just piles up!), I don't like cables lying around in the middle of the floor (they have to be neatly stuck to the wall) and I don't like bath towels and robes hanging on hooks in the bathroom. I have seen a nice rack for rolled up towels on Pinterest but could not find one to buy here. So I bought a wine rack in my favourite Swedish second hand - Stockholms Stadmission for 50 SEK.


I think it looks pretty neat there!
Bathroom requires some work. I already bought a new mirror with shelves, it is waiting for Nathan to install it. I would like to change the lamps, the ones we have give almost no light. I need something nifty to cover the sides of the bathtub and maybe some additional hooks and shelves for bath stuff!

Kitchen is just kitchen for now, there is few bits and bobs to remind us that we are geeks, like Star Trek pizza cutter or Ctrl, Alt and Del cups!


My vanity table requires some more work, maybe a little curtain behind it to cover up the door to the kitchen that are permanently shot. A nice mirror mirror on the wall and pretty small chair. For vanity.



Few minuses we discovered so far:
- This flat has a specific scent of the last owner. It is not horrible, but it takes time to get rid of it. 
- It is a lot noisier here, with the window open you can hear traffic basically all day and evening.
- Dishwasher is weird and refrigerator is loud. 
- Bathroom is a bit loud too, due to some weird ventilation system, but it has a WINDOW! 

I think we can live with all that. Not sure if we would like to buy this place if we had a chance. 


Housewarming was fun!

Few weeks ago we had housewarming party with some friends from work, so the apartment is properly warm now. It was nice to see how the entire space changes when there is 12 people in it, not only 2.
Hopefully we will be able to enjoy it with friends more often. Our board games are lonely in the closet.

As usual thank you for reading!