Saturday, September 23, 2006

Review catch-up

Book — Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge

The novel for which Fast times at Fairmont High was the warm-up; a vision of 20 years from now, with ubiquitous computation and augmented reality just part of the fabric of life. Some of the political background may be a little bit suspect (a US-PRC war, India joining the EU, all quiet on the al-Qaeda front), but definitely the sort of future I'd like to have, if I can't have the one I was promised in Dan Dare.

And after such a gap, you forget quite how good a thriller writer he can be.

The Hugo will be a reflex response.

Anime — The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya

It's a high-school drama, about the eponymous Haruhi who feels that life is boring, and wants to find interesting people, like aliens, time-travellers or espers. Since none identify themselves to her, she recruits (drafts) some of her classmates to try and find sources of weirdness. But, little does she know…

Adding to the fun of the revelations, the show is shown out of order, according to the internal chronology, so characters can make tantalising reference to things that have happened, which we are yet to see.

Is this show a cynical confection of everything but the kitchen sink, or just clever fun? Hard to tell, but it was an enjoyable ride.

Anime — Black Lagoon

If Jerry Bruckheimer made anime, he would have made Black Lagoon.

It's about pirates in the South China Sea, and a hapless sarariman who finds liberation from his dead-end job after being taken hostage. Admittedly the pirates are a bunch of Yanks, rather than the usual run of lascars, and Reby, their enforcer, is one helluva woman.

You know how the show is going to be after the helicopter gunship/motor torpedo boat duel in the second episode.

Not deep, but violent fun.

[Now playing - Planet Rock]

Thursday, September 21, 2006

It's done

The last bit of trim on the flooring; the last touch-up of paintwork. Perhaps the building work is over. Now comes the fun fun fun of properly moving into the new space, and purging all the accumulated dross of 20 years.

Freecycle and Oxfam are going to be doing very well off us for a while to come.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Zeno's Paradox

The wood block flooring is all done, and the chap came on Friday to finish up the rest. He rehung doors, making them clear of the carpet, and put the matting down in the hall. And then didn't have the right threshold strips. When those are done, and the skirting touched up, it should all be done.

Alas, only half the remaining work seems to get done on each visit.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Longer haul home

Broken sleep, and each time the sky outside is flat orange. Finally give up trying to go back to sleep at 04:40, and watch TV — Excalibur, Nadja Applefields, Reporter Blues — until time for breakfast. There at 07:30 on the dot, but I'm not the first one there. Out before 8, having managed a fair amount of eating, to trudge through the drizzle.

The station is busy, there is even another train at my platform before the one I want, heading to Spain. Mine arrives on time, and it's out into grey misty countryside. There are false starts at brightness, at Carcassonne, half an hour to cover all I'd cycled.

An hour to kill at Toulouse, so I can check where I should have gone to start the tour, then get on to a train that's starting from here; though I have to wait for the soft seat indicators to light up, at which point I find I have a window seat.

There is another cat travelling, who mews a bit to start with, and again as I go past to the loo. The canal is obviously next to the track for about 15 min, and another 5 or so if you know what to look for, as we diverge slowly; most of the way to Montauban.

The freestanding church tower was at Étampes.

Metro cross Paris, then Eurostar that's on time at Waterloo, for once. But the Northern Line makes up for it, I have to do Bakerloo and Picadilly instead. Then onto train at King's X, and home.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Seaside Outing

View To the sea in a larger map

Woke just in time to check my watch and then hear the clock on the Archbishop's palace chime 05:00. Why? At least I can do a dry run for tomorrow.

Once I've cleared the little bit of road and can get on to the canal path, it's cycling into the low sun, dodging joggers and oncoming cyclists. The sign after about 4 miles to Gruissan leads me off the suggested route, but on to a paved and essentially cycle-only road through the vineyards, and then the salt marsh.

The old tower of the castle appears against the bright sky, then as I loop around the bay, into clear view

Chateau at Gruissan


the bay where the flamingoes are feeding.

There is a cyclepath around the edge of the town, but it's being repaired or upgraded, so I'm on the road most of the way, till past the bridge, then it's on to chunky aggregate and then a real path to Gruissan-plage. Here I cycle past the beach houses, up on stilts, only the garages on the ground floor, to the sandy beach. This has been bulldozed clean along the tide line, but is otherwise undisturbed, with bird tracks.

I park the bike, and wander barefoot over the sand, which is just firm and cool enough to be pleasant; the sea water is very chill.

I loop around the island, taking every wrong turn, then rejoin the canal at Mandirac, turning left to Port La Nouvelle. Past that point, the plane trees give way to cypress


Canal path south of Mandirac

this is hard work as it's into sea breeze, and is rough underfoot. The canal or the salt marsh beyond smell sulphurous. There is a picnic place at the St Lucie lock, but it requires getting a drawbridge across the canal operated, so I give it a miss.

P l/N is rather tacky seaside where it isn't working port, but there's a place at the end of the main street where I can park and sit on a bench to have lunch, then start the grind back.

I surprise myself at taking only about 3min to pass one pair of km markers, so ease off; but it is good to get back under the shade of the plane trees.

I spot something weird that has factory like corrugated metal between two old looking stone towers, a mixture of ecclesiastical and industrial, as I return to Narbonne; and closer, can see the canalside parts of town that I missed in the morning in the low sun. The bright weather makes it not too drab, but it's scarcely a pretty town; and I do have to dodge the usual drunks along the path.

Park and hand over bike, then shop for the morning. The hotel cat is lying on the pavement outside like it had melted. I agree, and have another siesta, then decide to do the crêperie again, even though the paid-for place is open (yesterday's still isn't).