New Orleans Streetcar

New Orleans

My job is so terrible at times. I had to spend a whole week in New Orleans at the beginning of March. Awful. Just awful.*

We stayed in the Garden District and worked at this lovely place:

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We actually got a lot of work done – even working into one of the afternoons we had kept free for doing something fun! It was great to meet more of the team I work every day over the web.

Of course we also sampled the delights of New Orleans, including some great (and some unusual) food and drink.

We ate at The Rum House, Muriel’s, Sushi Brothers, Pho-Noi-Viet, Mojo Coffee House, District, Cafe Du Monde and Beachbum Berry’s Latitude 29.

Exploring the Garden District and the French Quarter was a fun experience too. I found myself on the street in the Garden District.

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To explore the French Quarter, we boarded the streetcar and for that we needed a JAZZY PASS!

New Orleans Jazzy Pass

…and the Streetcar was kinda cool.

New Orleans Streetcar

After the brief ride we saw some sites, including the Mississippi.

One of the best things? Beignets from the world famous Cafe Du Monde. Sugar everywhere.

Oh and then there was street music.

As it happens, we saw one of the guys in that video again – playing for Walter Wolfman Washington at DBA. Quite the experience!

If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend spending a few days in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Eat out always, and spend your evenings enjoying the copious bars and their live music.

* may contain sarcasm

Grassmarket Hotel, Edinburgh

A few weeks ago, for a work trip, I spent a couple of nights at the Grassmarket Hotel. It was a bit more interesting than the usual so I wanted to post about it.

Arriving at first, there was no-one to greet me which was a bit disappointing but it seems the bar next door is connected and someone quickly came through to check me in.

The room was small (okay, tiny) but much more interesting that your average.

The wall in my room at Grassmarket Hotel
The wall in my room at Grassmarket Hotel

It’s not everywhere that plasters the wall with Dandy covers, eh? I guess you’d call that quirky. It’s kinda fun, and makes you appreciate the place more than just somewhere to sleep which is nice.

Some extra special attention
Some extra special attention

They’ve made a nice extra effort to make the whole tea and coffee thing that bit better.

For a start you get mugs, not tiny cups – awesome for that first cuppa in the morning. There’s a proper teapot too, and a nice selection of alternative teas as well as the standard English Breakfast Tea.

There’s a big bottle of water as well and some nice big glasses to drink from instead of making do with funny tasting tap water.

You may have noticed the copy of the Dandy too :) I didn’t read it, but it’s definitely a nice to have.

The bed was big and soft with four great, fluffy pillows that should suit any preference. For someone who struggles to sleep in a new place, I had a really good kip.

While the character of the place may seem to some like trying to hard, I like that it makes you smile a little and puts you at ease in what is a strange place, helping you relax.

If you ever need to go to Edinburgh, I’d suggest you give the Grassmarket Hotel a go.

30

I stole this idea from Matt.*

It’s been quite the year.

My mini-me had just turned one year old at the start.

I gave up seven years of freelancing to become a salaried employee again, with the fantastic Code For The People, who six months later sold me to Automattic.**

Lots of travelling was had. In August, I took my partner*** and the boy to watch my partner’s brother marry an American girl from Akansas, then I spent my first few days as an Automattician meeting my new colleagues in Lisbon. Right now, I’m in New Orleans meeting with the team again**** :)

On a bittersweet note my partner and I separated, but I’m now a father again to a little girl.

This year? Keep my job, buy a house.

* Matt being the new “big boss” (haven’t had one of them in over a decade!) who at only one year older than me is substantially more successful… grrr! ;)

** I’m absolutely not complaining!

*** Now ex.

**** Though today is the last day, so I’m mostly spending my birthday in airports…

It’s always #TimeToTalk

We shouldn’t need an excuse to talk about mental health but why pass up the opportunity. Any time is a good time to talk about mental health.

I’m depressed right now (sort of). I’m on anti-depressants to help me cope with a very difficult situation. This is the first time I’ve had medical help with depression, but not the first time I’ve suffered.

Only now am I receiving treatment because a few months ago I was ready to kill myself, and realised I needed help to survive.

I have an amazing little boy and, at the time, was expecting to be a father again, I have great friends, a great job and a loving family. You might wonder why the hell I could even contemplate suicide in those circumstances. But that’s one of the most misunderstood aspects of depression – it defies logic.

Many times in the last two years I’ve been in the same position and I kept it to myself. I told no-one until recently. Looking back I’m amazed I survived and at the moment, I mostly feel great.

I feel great because I’ve told those around me. I’ve been completely open with family and friends, including telling them about my past depression. As a result I’ve had an outpouring of selfless support and help.

Without that support and help I’m not sure I would be coping as well as I am now.

I am better because I talked about it.

It’s always a good time to talk.

Update: I wanted to share this post from James Smith that highlights really well some of the effects of depression. You may well have experienced some but without thinking of it as depression. But as James says, it’s a bug in the system, not you failing.

21 struggles faced by a dad raising a daughter in a sexist world

…not only are princesses generally helpless and only find fulfilment through marriage, but they are also parasitical members of noxious ruling class steeped in entrenched privilege, the influence of whom keeps Britain mired in Dark Ages deference to a tribe of inbred, crown-topped butler-enthusiasts.

http://usvsth3m.com/post/21-struggles-faced-by-a-dad-raising-a-daughter-in-a-sexist-world

Benefit sanctions: they’re absurd and don’t work very well, experts tell MPs

It [the sanctions regime] is a secret penal system because the decisions [to stop benefit payments] are made in secret, by officials; the claimant is not present; they are not legally represented; the punishment is applied before there is any hearing; if they get a hearing it is only long after the punishment has been applied. The scale of penalties is greater than the scale of penalties that are available to the magistrates courts… You are talking unmistakably about a penal system which has a set of characteristics which I would suggest are totally unacceptable in a democratic society.

http://gu.com/p/44ym4