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This is a question Beautiful Moments, Part Two

Last week I saw a helium balloon cross the road at the lights on a perfectly timed gust of wind. Today I saw four people trying to get into a GWiz electric car. They failed.

What's the best thing you've seen recently?

(, Thu 5 Aug 2010, 21:49)
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Chav mother
with little boy in hoody walks into my pub.

"Oh dear!", thinks I.

"'e's just dropped his lunch, so we've come in to get 'im cheesy chips"

Cheesy chips come out to her and her offspring, who walks over to the bar. Down comes his hood, and a little angelic face says "Please may I have some mayonnaise? Please" he waits, quietly at the bar until I come back with the pot of mayo. "Thank you very much. I love cheesy chips" and off he walks.

Not overly beautiful, you may say, but I was prepared for some horror child, which I am too often confronted with. And this was a wonderful surprise.

What made it even nicer was the regular at the end of the bar who stopped the mother on her way out to congratulate her on having brought up such a wonderful child, to which she beamed with pride.

Little things like can make the world a lovely place.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 10:27, 4 replies)
Messing about on the river
Picture the scene: a beautiful, balmy summers day in Oxford. A young Snowy, his beloved, and assorted friends, have taken time off from their studies to enjoy the weather and go punting through Magdalen Meadows.

We drift, blissful and happy along the river, taking turns to command one of the two boats, pausing here and there to look at the deer in the deer park, or bring the boats side-by-side to swap places or share supplies.

For a few hours, the pace of life becomes wonderfully languorous. We drink our beers, joke with each other, watch the twigs float past, someone passes a joint around, we work our way through the picnic we brought with us, and just relax - the magic combination of sun and river lulling us into a delightful reverie.

Eventually, it's just me and my girlfriend lying in one of the boats, cuddling, whilst the others carry on drinking and roll another in the other boat. We pause for a moment, and she whispers 'I love you.' I kiss her, then roll over, propping myself on top of her, lean over the side, and vomit, freely and copiously, into the river.

Brings a tear to my eye even now...
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 10:18, 2 replies)
Did that really just happen?
Having a picnic with mates in some woods in West Sussex. We'd just settled down, blanket on the grass, food out and beers popped. Without warning, a pure white albino stag hurtled through the clearing, just a few metres in front of us, glowing as if under UV as shafts of sunlight caught it.

It was over in a couple of seconds. If I'd been the only one to have seen it, I'd have thought it was a dream...
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 10:16, 3 replies)
every night
getting home from work. i open the front door, put my bike under the stairs, pause for a bit until i hear "daddy?" from upstairs. Then there's a big clatter, my two boys run down the stairs clutching random objects (vacuum hose, pliers, coat hook, that sort of thing), knock me to the floor and attempt to tickle me. every night.

kids, they utterly fuck up your social life, but it's worth it.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 10:13, 1 reply)
Having informed my nephews and nieces that a baby rabbit is called a kitten, I was thus fielding questions about all types of babies.
What's a baby house called? A flat (quite pleased with that)

A baby telephone - a mobile, a baby dish is a bowl, etc.

What's a baby Uncle Vagabond called?

Well Uncle Vagabond doesn't have children so they don't have a name.

I was corrected immediately and authorititively by my 6yo nephew "Actually there are other Uncle Vagabonds in the world and their children are called Big Fat Chicken, Eric the Heffalump and Bee Boo Baba."

I thought I talk bollocks. This kid is fluent.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:47, Reply)
I was walking along when I spotted, over the brow of a hill, a rainbow.

But this was no ordinary rainbow, oh no.

SO Intense...
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:42, 6 replies)
mirror mirror on the wall
Last weekend I took my girlfriend for our first weekend away without kids, so I booked a nice hotel for a relaxing break.
The room seemed to have gone overboard with the mirrors. They were on the wall, on the wardrobe sliding doors etc.
After a shower she was drying her hair with the obligatory towel wrapped around her, but holding dryer in one hand, brush in the other.

I was sat on the bed, one eye on the tv, one on m'lady... when I notice she's starting to struggle a little.
I ponder what's causing the look of frustration on her face when it became apparant as the towel came undone, and fell to the floor.

Just at that moment the heavens had perfect timing and a perfect beam of sunshine shone through the window bathing her naked body in golden afternoon sun, which was duly on show reflected in the mirrors all over the room :-)
Like a kid in a toyshop everywhere I looked was a wonderful spectacle to behold as I sat mouth aghast and quite possibly starting to dribble.
Her reaction once the towel fell was to chuck me a cheeky grin and finish doing her hair, I'm a very happy chappy these days! :-)
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:41, Reply)
mixed bag
* Seeing a blue whale and its baby out my beachfront lounge room window. I rang work to tell them I was going to be late as I was having an ‘Attenborough’ moment and they agreed to let me take my time.

* The really old couple next door always walk hand in hand.

* Having songs sung to me by the Anangu (traditional owners) ladies at Uluru. Songs of country and in Pitjantjatjarra language round a campfire at night rates as a beautiful moment in my life.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:37, Reply)
May as well post a third
Seeing my home planet from space, for the first time.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:33, 11 replies)
Working in the Antarctic, one evening we were out in for a recreational trip in a small boat. The sea was clear and still, with late-summer ice bergs and 'bergy bits' scattered through it.

We saw a pod of Minke whales, and started to follow them, weaving in & out of the bergs. They came over to check us out, and I got some great close-up shots of them surfacing. All pretty exciting so far, but then one came up right next to the boat. All restraint and objectivity went over the side, as I could only point at it and make "Aah! Uhh!" noises...

Didn't get a pic, as it was too close to focus on. And I realised the value of experiencing something like that unfiltered, without trying to capture or analyse it, just reacting in the most basic way. A truly numinous experience.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:26, 5 replies)
My Grandad and Grandma.
Seeing as you lot are making me extremely weepy, I thought I'd actually join in for once. I'm afraid there's no punchline or even any specific 'moments' here, but I'd like to say how much I love my grandparents.

My Grandad is amazing. He really is. He was an evacuee in the war, then he joined up to the RAF, and he worked on the Star Wars strategic defense initiative. He travelled all over the world with his loving wife in tow, to Singapore and to Kenya where my uncle was born. He's given me so much, and I don't mean in terms of crappy plastic toys. He taught me how to pick blackberries, how to put rubber band aeroplanes together, what a dinosaur is (we went so often to the Natural History museum, he had a season ticket). He showed me how to think, how to question and why grandparents are so fucking special.

My Grandma is fantastic. I'll never forget the time my Mum, me, my brother my my grandparents were sat talking in their almost stereotypically old-person living room. I don't remember what the subject was - something about the RAF - but my Grandma said, with an affectionate smile to her husband of 50 years, "Yes, he'll always be my Brylcreem boy." For a brief moment, I saw my Grandad as she must still see him: a six foot something handsome engineer, using his brains and practicality to help Britain.

She's a four foot nine 70-something old woman now, with a dodgy knee and a love for People's Friend magazine. My Grandad has weird heart arrythmias and a stooped back. But you know what? They are so much in love, even now. I can only hope they stick around to see their future great-grandkids, because I want my children to know how bloody special they both are.

Sorry for the page-long rant.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:21, 3 replies)
Pay attention in class
Most people don't realize how much a professor can see when they are lecturing. They know if you are texting, fooling around on facebook, doing a crossword, or studying for another class, and they are not thrilled about it. One of my professors related the following story, which was later confirmed by his TA. I really wish I could have been there to witness the glory of it all.

The professor always turned the lights off to show slides for the second half of the class session, and even though he couldn't see anything, he could tell that a group of hoodlums that sat near the back was getting up to trouble.

The group consisted of a couple of *ahem* darker fellows from the university basketball team and their young female groupies. They were always late to class, they never paid attention, and were in general disrespectful, disruptive, and bad students.

So the aforementioned professor got sick of it and decided once and for all to catch them in the act of whatever they did when the lights went out. He hatched a scheme with his TA.

In class that evening while the lights were out he hit a pause in the lecture, quietly walked up the stairs to the back of the class, and slipped into a seat behind the hoodlums. "NOW!" he said, giving the TA cue to switch the lights on. One of the groupies was treating one of the guys to a handy-j, so the professor just leaned forward and calmly said "you know, you really shouldn't be doing that."

Of course the entire class (of fifty people) had turned around to see what it was all about. The girl pulled her hand out and turned beet red while the class burst into hysterics. And you know what? For the rest of the semester she always made sure her hands were visible, and she was very attentive in class.

Edit: alright, alright. I was just trying to follow the professor's story as closely as possible - including his reference to the black people. I honestly did not intend the racism and tried to just have fun with it in the comments, but apparently the internet has gotten PC and nitpicky. Apologies for offending thee, internet.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:16, 2 replies)
There is nothing prettier
than my gf passed out on the couch with vomit on her face and tears on her cheeks. I can sit and stare for hours. and i do.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:14, 8 replies)
Connie, my nan
Think I've opened a flood gate with my previous post and apologies for another long'un.

My other beautiful moment involves my Nan (Connie).

Nana was the only grandparent I ever knew and we sadly lost her wonderful personality with Alzeimers when I was about 10 years old where she was then looked after in the nursing home my dad ran. It would be when I was 22 when we would lose her completely.

My dad has an older and younger brother (Geoff/Phil), there was another younger brother called Bobby who didn't survive a meningitis infection when he was only a few years old. I freaked out a couple of members of the family when I started to grow an expression on my face, I was utterly like Bobby.

My nan had an oil painting of Bobby before he died above her chair for decades, it could well have been a painting of me. This similarity resulted in a unique connection with my nan, nothing could touch it. Where my parents would give up nan would step in and sort me in 0.2 seconds flat. I loved her to bits.

I was a coward for many years, I didn't see her in the nursing home despite it never being more than a 3 minute drive from my house. I couldn't see her like that, it hurt too much the first time and I know how much of a mistake it was now. Fortunately this was a mistake I would be presented with an opportunity to fix.

I lived in Brussels for several months in 2005 and the weekend I was home I was told she took a turn for the worst and my dad and uncles had gone to see her. As soon as I exited the taxi at my house I was in my car and there in 60 seconds.

When I arrived I ran upstairs and found her sons around her, everyone knew, my dad especially that this was the night she would leave us in body. She hadn't spoken in years and had a heart-breaking vacant expression for longer, the same expression that I was terrified of.

I joined the group and stayed with her for a short while before something quite magical happened, she looked up. She engaged eye contact with each of us, looking at her sons and me, no words, nothing spoken but contact was made. It was when she gazed at me that I realised how beautiful a moment it was, I was there not only for myself but for Bobby as well.

After she returned to her vacant state I had to leave, I barely made it back to my car as the tears were thundering out of my eyes. I later found out that she died as I was going down the stairs. Once I had driven round half the north west and returned home I settled and told the now-ex.

Her funeral included a beautiful eulogy by my youngest uncle, chronicling her selfless life, without her deceased husband, for her family until she was played out by Wind Beneath My Wings. Another beautiful moment, two for the price of one nana, good show.

Before moving out to Australia in June I had a nice long chat with her in the graveyard.

No length, just manly tears.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:12, 2 replies)
Crossing from the mainland to an island off the coast of Norway on a ferry. The sky was slate-grey and menacing. I looked over the side of the ship, hoping desparately that the weather was going to improve, when a sea-eagle swooped down and plucked a fish from the water right before my eyes. Then when it flew away it winked at me. Honest.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:06, Reply)
31 blank pages in my diary.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:03, Reply)
i saw some breasts
i like breasts
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 9:02, Reply)
My son...
who turns one in two weeks, stood up by himself for 12 seconds last night, the whole time grinning madly at me and saying "Dadadadadadadadad!".
When my memory goes and I can't remember where I put the car keys or how to use a toilet, if I can still remember that moment I'll consider myself doing just fine.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 7:26, 4 replies)
My favourite personal example of instant karma.
I was driving down the home stretch of my nearby freeway, precisely on the speed limit, a long queue of cars to my left waiting for the exit. As soon as I got past the exit, I would move my trusty, rusty Toyota into the slow lane.

Of course, some people are less patient. A spike-haired boy racer type behind me started flashing his headlights and making hand gestures, as clearly 100km/h (about 60 mph) was too slow for his customised Honda. Now, I understand the urge to fly past slowpokes, but clearly I was just trying to get past the jammed exit, and I wasn't going slowly, as such. He could wait.

I kept my pace.

The hooting started. I can't lipread, but I could tell what his flapping mouthparts were spitting at me. I made a conciliatory wave, nodding in acknowledgement of his predicament.

I reached the end of the queue, and slipped into the slow lane. Boy Racer screamed his pathetic tuned-and-slammed little car past me, actually looking back to make further enraged gestures and statements.

Right under the overpass.

Where I knew the camera was hidden.

"Poof" went the camera.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 7:23, 3 replies)
Beautiful moments?
I think the most beautiful moment I ever had was when I was paragliding in Turkey.

Once I had stopped shabing myself I looked down, and this is what I saw...

(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 7:20, 5 replies)
The Ork and the scout
A rather cool day in early fall. Slight drizzle. Grey skies all around promising an absolute lack of sunshine.
In other words, perfect weather for a LARP.

Having chosen to provide services to the GMs as an NPC or, as others would say, whoring myself out to receive cheaper accomodations, I found myself overlooking a farm track along a woodline in the guise of an ork. As the plan went I was a lookout for a group of other orks tasked with alerting them to approaching players in order to initiate an ambush. As reality went, the other orks were busy drying wet socks around the campfire, making an ambush unlikely ay best.
Before assuming my post I had chosen to forego the clamminess of a jerkin over the warmth of a bare torso equipped with permanent insulation in the form of subcutaeneous fatty tissue. Suitably dressed in a kiltlike device with matching boots the lack of covered skin meant the illusion of orkish appearance had to be provided by a generous coat of camo greasepaint.
Giving up on trying to determine the location of the sun to gauge the time of day I snuck a glance at the digital temporal demon I had painstakingly concealed in my sock and found I had yet another hour to wait. Dragging my weary gaze down the muddy track once more a human scout caught my attention. This bedraggled creature seemed completely unaware of the danger it was walking into. Like a deer it made its shy way down the track looking about furtively and completely missing the poorly concealed personification of chaos until the last moment. From no more than ten steps away the ork launched himself at him who, with a girly squeal, bolted into the woods. Giving chase I immediately realized the utter hopelessness of my pursuit as I heaved my overweight frame around the trees trying in vain to match the others nimble moves through the trees.
I was close to giving up the chase when the circumnavigation of a rather large fallen oak slowed his progress. Upon seeing the amount of broken limbs lying scattered about it and judging the level of decay of the tree to be sufficient a course was plotted through the main part of the trees crown. Several loud crunching and snapping noises later my prey turned around to view the source of the sounds only to be confronted by what I like to think of as myself, looking fearsome in my getup, exploding through this fallen tree, a cloud of smashed deadwood spreading in slow motion before my path of titanic destruction. In any case he turned and accelerated as I slowed down, knowing in my straining heart that further pursuit was a waste of energy.
Proudly I stood surveying the damage to the old rotten oak, satisfied in the knowledge that on this day I had put THE FEAR into a fellow LARPer. Smiling to myself on the short walk back into camp I decided to berate my comrads in arms for their failure to show at my shout before retiring to my tent for a well deserved nap.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 6:43, Reply)
On tuesday I filmed this
It's been the best thing I saw all week.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 6:36, 3 replies)
88 World Series
Johnny Chan, flops the nuts straight and has the discipline to wait him out. He knows Seidel is going to bluff at it. Look at the control. He knows his men well enough to check it all the way. He owns him. Seidel, kid doesn't know what hit him.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 6:02, 6 replies)
The last day I saw my first dog
Obligatory wavy lines...

When I was a wee lad (say of 7 or 8) we got a Bedlington Terrier and called him Jay Jay (after initials of me and my dad). He was the runt of the litter and was plagued with illness after condition after illness throughout his entire life, however as much as he felt rotten inside he loved fifty times more.

Dad was the master, I was the brother and we got on like a house on fire. Jay was the friendliest, child-safe and faithful pooch anyone could ask for - you'd only need to glance at him and he'd jump on your lap. Our Burmese cat (McCavity) was very much the boss until his sad death some years later but Jay remained ever chirpy and willing to lend his chin to your knee.

He came from pedigree stock which meant he was due to leave us around the age of 10 and with all his problems he would probably only see 6 if lucky - he lasted (we like to think out of pure devotion to us and us to him) until 13. If you're still with me then we're about to reach the main story point now.

Still with me? Lovely!

I moved out a year before Jay was diagnosed with leukaemia, this was surely going to be the swift end to our old friend. Our vet gave him slim odds but offered us an experimental treatment to try and buy some more time, we took it. Maybe we shouldn't have since it led to as many bad days as there were good. He'd often go a day or two at a time a springy young chap with attitude but then would suddenly be utterly unable to move out of his basket for an equal or greater amount of time.

My mum looked after him like a trooper, watering him with a droplet and making sure he stayed clean, I'll always thank her for that. I went round a fair bit in his last couple of months to make sure I saw him often. Then the last day happened. It was a bad day.

I popped round to say hello and before I left I went to his basket and he couldn't even lift his head to look at me he was so weak, I was told he'd been like this for a few days, longer than usual. I gently lifted his head and ruffled his fur whilst saying 'Goodbye mate', placed his withered head down and went to walk away.

I managed about four steps before hearing his clawless paws tapping on the kitchen floor, he was standing there with his head held high looking right at me, tail wagging and his body shaking with pain. His puppy spirit won through and we had a little gentle play before making another goodbye and placing him in his basket.

We lost him the next day.

He knew he was on his way out as I was making mine.

Length? Being the runt is a good excuse for not mentioning.

EDIT: Still have his collar hanging on my fridge door, respect Jay!
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 5:56, 15 replies)
Someone was bound to do this sooner or later.
Top picture is the day I met my kitten. I've never had a more loyal friend.

Pardon my crustache and nose hairs.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 4:41, 9 replies)
NYE 2009
Last New Year's Eve, it was a stinking hot day in Tasmania - 40 degrees centigrade. Luckily, my plans for the night involved staying with a group of some of my oldest friends at a beachside shack that belongs to the family of one of them.

We drove over in the afternoon, unpacked our gear and jumped in the water. Come dinnertime, we barbequed up a variety of different meats - lamb, chicken, kangaroo, etc - and mixed up frozen cocktails to stave off the heat. As we were finishing our food, a gigantic storm started to move down the other side of the river. It must have been absolutely pissing it down over there, but where we were it stayed dry and warm while we watched the show:

(click for bigger)

This went on for about 45 minutes, with huge bolts of lightning going off constantly. I absolutely love thunderstorms, and this was one of the best I've seen. Once it cleared up, we walked down to the nearby jetty, where the local council was putting on a midnight fireworks show (impressive, but... a bit anticlimactic after the sheer ferocity of the storm), before returning to the beach to cap the night off with a drunken 2am swim, since despite the earlier storm it was still about 30 degrees in the water. I couldn't really have asked for a better way to usher in the new year. Everything was perfect - the weather, the company, the food, the drinks, and the light shows, both natural and manmade. Best NYE ever.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 4:25, 6 replies)
Camping in Yosemite
I woke up early one morning to the pitter-patter of rain on the canvas overhead. Feeling warm and contented in my sleeping bag I waited for it to pass and then got out of my tent to be greeted with the crisp morning air. I turned around and was presented with the most beautiful sight I have ever seen - a perfect double rainbow stretching across the misty filled mountains opposite my camp.

It almost even looked like a triple rainbow.
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 2:32, 5 replies)
Snow Dogs
Earlier this year, we got proper snow where I live for the 1st time in years. It's was thick, it stuck & it wasn't stopping. I'd had my dog about 6 months at the time, & to the best of my knowledge, he'd never seen the stuff before. I started by letting him out in the front garden, his initial weariness quickly overcome by curiosity, I then took him out into the street & we both went mental! I threw snowballs at him, I wrestled with him in it, he ate the stuff, it was amazing. I stood back for a second & just watched my 5 1/2 stone little beast having a ball, looking happier than I'd ever seen him. It was half two in the morning, there was no-one else around & the whole scene was being illuminated by the orange glow of the street lights.

(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 2:24, Reply)
from the mouth of my baby
I was looking after my son, just me and him, he'd just turned three. The conversation went thus:
Yes mate?
I'm happy.
Oh that's nice to hear, why are you happy?
Cos i love you

:-) :-) :-)
(, Fri 6 Aug 2010, 1:54, 1 reply)

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