I arrive around 01:00, find the house exactly as described in my friend's letter, have a hot shower and fall asleep until 14:30 Australian time.

(1) In advance, exchange enough foreign cash for a taxi and a bed and a meal in emergency if you can!
(2) My first impression is that Australians are nice people.
(3) Useful, true error messages can help real people.
(4) Of course, when going abroad next time, make sure my bank knows.


A bit down the airport road, a car pulls up. Nice! Random strangers being helpful to this obviously lost traveller! Nearly true, it turs out: Info woman is off-shift now and takes me into the city centre, a good half way to my destination. There I find another ATM, which gives me the actual issue in a clear error message: I have not configured my bank card for use outside Europe. My phone has no internet and I don't know where to find free WiFi, so I walk on knowing the issue is fixable. [5]

She tells me there should be another ATM at the service station outside the airport. There isn't any more, the people there tell me. I forget to check with a taxi driver whether they can take my card and instead settle on walking – I can't contact my accommodation for help, he's not here yet! I get a new battery into my phone (I am prepared!) and google maps loaded up and a paper map with the walking path marked on it by the helpful info woman, and start walking. [4]

This time, instead of getting money out, the message is “card type not recognized”. Should I pick “savings” instead? Or “credit”? Both sound wrong, but I could at least try. Both don't work, “card type not recognized”. Stupid ATM, I think. (I still do, but for other reasons.) Directly beside the ATM sits a friendly woman at the airport information desk, with maps of Canberra and everything. [3]

Stepping into the very quiet arrivals hall, I spotted an ATM immediately, and a pointer to the taxis on my right. Perfect! I put the card into the ATM, punch in some PIN which I think is right, and then the details including selecting the “cheque” account option, which I'm not familiar with. “Wrong PIN!” Why does that message only come at the end of the process? But yes, I remember the correct one for this my only card, so I can go through the procedure again. [2]

The story of yesterday is my own.
Around eleven in the night, I landed in Canberra. The flight was decent, and I felt well-prepared for the place, having packed – among other things – warm clothes for the cold Australian winter. I was then to get to my friend's house to sleep. That friend is still on his way here, so he had given me the key to get in, and a very detailed description of the setup of the house, including how to direct a taxi driver for the last bit. So far the theory. [1]

Yesterday, we once again created our own fiction using the “Town and Gown” playset for Fiasco, in a story centering around a philosophy prof drug-dealing on campus interconnected with some hypocritical keep-the-campus-clean activities. Introducing two new people to the system and RPGs in general, and both of them grokking it and having an awesome time, was an added bonus. Cool side character: A campus cop reading every free book he can get, whether it's Virtue ethics or supremacist bs or fanfic.

Continuing through the stories of Ruskin Bond, yesterday brought us “Never forget this day”, in which he relates the last day he spent with his dad, full of the pleasures a young boy otherwise living in a boarding school – delicious food, cinema, things like that. It could just have been a particularly nice day, but it's WW2, and his father dies few months later in Calcutta, so the memories are very strong and personal and the author makes them appropriately vivid reflecting this to us readers.

We finished reading Ruskin Bond's “The Blue Umbrella” yesterday. In this heartwarming story, the young Binya gains a beautiful blue silk umbrella which everyone around her fancies, most of all the local shopkeeper Ram Bharosa, who goes through a full arc of fall and redemption, at the end of which the umbrella goes on to benefit the whole community.

Anaphory boosted

Was talking about Mastodon with an old-school sysadmin guy. We reached the realization that defederating from instances with no/bad moderation is essentially the same thing as blocking open relays back when you ran your own email server: open relays always end up getting used for spam, you block 'em to protect your users.

Email was and still is the first federated social network, so it already faced a lot of the same problems; we should study its solutions (and its failures).

“The Apartment Dweller's Bestiary” by Kij Johnson is beautiful and confusing. It is a bit like a typology of breakups or loneliness or coping strategies, narrated in second person through the means of anecdotes about fictitious animals with curious properties, like the crestone which feeds of crumbs on the kitchen floor – and dials 911 when you are choking.

In “Grandpa fights an ostrich”, Ruskin Bond narrates the encounter of a young railway worker running away from, and “waltzing” with, an ostrich which he encounters while taking a shortcut to work one morning. The description of the encounter is very lively and funny, we laughed a lot while reading it.

Today I read (actually read) “The woman on platform 8” by Ruskin Bond. It's not my usual genre of speculative fiction, but he beautifully describes the encounter between a boy and an exceptionally nice woman in a railway station, and the conversation with the arriving mother of a friend of the boy about how it is bad to talk to strangers.

“Bits” was awesome. “Cat Pictures Please”, also by Naomi Kritzer, cannot compete with it, but it's still a beautiful, cute story about a search engine AI trying to help people while flying under the radar. And if you ever wondered why The Internet Is For Cats (and porn and dating)… maybe this is why 😉

“Ether” written by Zhang Ran, translated by Carmen Yiling Yan and Ken Liu, and read by Alasdair Stuart takes a long time to get to the exposition and suddenly many things make sense – except I still don't understand why an emulation of the internet works with a circular topology, even after it has been lampshaded in the story.

This story is a follow-up story on “Ship's Brother”, also by Aliette de Bodard in read by the awesome Kate Baker, which I tooted about in wandering.shop/@Anaphory/10148

In “Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight” by Aliette de Bodard, a person has died, and 3 people live on: Her son, who cared for her to the end, and now has not only lost her, but also her upload, which contrary to tradition is given to someone else; her student, who received it, but does not want to propagate her mentor's work unquestioningly; and her daughter, a space ship mind grieving on a different time scale who will ‘live’ to see the galaxy filled with works started by her mother's research.

Next comes “A Universal Elegy” by Tang Fei. Aria (or what she is called), a hyperperceptive human, is sending letters to her twin brother, having eloped with her lover Hol from outside the galaxy to his home world. It starts interesting, a story about love, but turns step by step into a philosophical nightmare dreamworld. It thinks about persistent existence of the subject while the parts change, on a world called Dieresis. (What is higher-order life form???)

Personal loss Show more

“Tongtong's Summer” by Xia Jia is a story of old age. Young Tongtong's grampa is newly trapped in a wheelchair, but a telepresence robot helps him and cares for him. But who takes care of the caretaker? What if elderly people could care for each other using telepresence robots? What if in all their physical frailness, they could get telepresence interfaces they can use to contribute to society – art, craft, and care in particular? What if you could take them with you virtually to see the world?

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Wandering Shop

The Wandering Shop is a Mastodon instance initially geared for the science fiction and fantasy community but open to anyone. We want our 'local' timeline to have the feel of a coffee shop at a good convention: tables full of friendly conversation on a wide variety of topics. We welcome everyone who wants to participate, so long as you're willing to abide by our code of conduct.