Friday, March 01, 2019

February cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 15903.7 and ending at 16060.0, or 156.3 miles; the best month since September, despite being a short one.

Rather than being the month of winter as all the forecasts were suggesting, the weather was hinting spring all month, culminating in a high pressure event from the Azores that made for the first T-shirt cycling of the year, and with firm going on the bridleways, more like after Easter. Being dry, that also meant no other weather induced interruptions to cycling.

In the garden, I could at least attempt to make a head start on the chickweed, and get to clearing out that awkward corner near the shed, which had become overrun by nettles of all kinds during the autumn. And I got to mow the lawn twice!

Also, with being so dry, the soil was looking parched and while that meant easier to get to a good tilth, I'd even started recycling the bath-water to keep the patch where I'd sown the spring broad beans, as well as watering the patio planters and the sunny beds nearby.

Friday, February 01, 2019

January cycling

On the backup/winter bike, starting at 15778.6 and ending at 15903.7, or 125.1 miles; slightly down on last month but more than last January, even though none of the rides were further than into town (no gratuitous miles gotten in on New Year's Day). Going to the gym a lot, rather than to the pub at most once a week, made the difference (I didn't quite do a dry January though).

That the weather continued mild really up to the last third of the month helped; but even then, bright sub-zero days that make the bridle-paths passable also encouraged me out of my nest. On the down-side, the garden has still really not shut down for the winter; so I'm just having to do the new year pruning anyway; though the dry weather has meant that the vegetable beds were not a quagmire when I dug them ahead of the first proper frost.

In the gym, with a lot of stretching, I'm slowly managing to get the bar further down my back for squats, thus increasing the load bearing area, and hence the amount I can bear to carry. And also being more loosened up, I can get to the squats earlier in the set, and walk off the fatigue before getting on the bike to come home.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

I like this recipe

A couple of months back, I'd got a freshly baked and still warm baton from the local shop, and had the idea of thickly buttering it to accompany a bowl of soup -- only to discover how not like butter the "light" spreadable that was in the fridge tasted in bulk, being 2 parts of rapeseed oil to 3 of butter. Looking for alternatives was disappointing, as the commercial spreadables are all much the same, being seed-oil margarine mixes, even the ones boasting that they use olive oil.

Fortunately, the internet came through, with this recipe for a home-made butter/olive oil spread.

It does need translating from the American units -- in round numbers it comes to 180g oil for a 250g block of butter. Choose a salad-grade extra-virgin oil, because you will taste it in the finished product (which is part of what makes it so good!). The butter needs to be soft enough that you can cream it but no more -- only a few seconds in the microwave if you get it straight out of the fridge, just enough that it's soft. Melting the butter is -- well, you know how melting and then cooling butter works; the resulting mix turns out somewhat green-ish in colour and doesn't work quite as well.

Assuming the butter is just right, you can start stirring it with a hand blender, and then add the oil. When it's all mixed, it will have a custard-like consistency and appearance, and can be poured into a suitable container to put in the fridge. Leave it a few hours and it will solidify, but be spreadable. In use, it melts somewhat more readily than the commercial greases e.g. on a freshly toasted crumpet; and you won't want to leave it out of the fridge when not in active use.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

A Blogger infelicty I just hit

Entering the string %00 in the editor like this .Replace('\', ), gives a nul in the page which isn't returned to a %-escape when editing the entry, so I had to use %00 instead to achieve .Replace('\', %00).

Yet another MSBuild-on-Linux back-slash gotcha

Another variant of a known family of such issues, encountered as AltCover issue #49, the interesting tale of what you get when your MSBuild sets a task array parameter with


and the value of AltCoverAssemblyExcludeFilter is the-|xunit\.; surprisingly, the answer is


There isn't even an explicit ItemList in sight, and yet the '\' still gets interpreted as a path separator and "helpfully" *nix-ified. Doubling up the '\' via .Replace('\','\\') ahead of the split doesn't escape the character -- you just get a '//' in the output, nor does escaping on the command line as the-|xunit%5C..

For the moment, with no obvious MSBuild level fix, I'm working around this by doing .Replace('\', %00) and then converting the NUL back inside the custom MSBuild task.

Thursday, January 03, 2019

Moving on from G+

With the G+ sunset brought forwards to April, time to move my microblogging -- which is what I actually used G+ for, rather than the community aspects -- to proper microblogging sites, plural for redundancy.

So you can now find me on the Twitter (@stevegilham1) and Gab (@stevegilham), and maybe more later.

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Anime roundup '18Q4

The quarter opened with some new shows that made me think "Come back, Captain Earth, all is forgiven!".

RErideD released the first four episodes all at once, so I watched the first three.

On the plus side, it has ABe character designs, the ghost of which can be seen from time to time in one of the girls. However...

The villain of the piece is a total stereotype of the evil arms manufacturer profiting from war, like out of the inter-war period. As to the main plot, it's like no-one on the creative staff has ever noticed Windows Update, even though it's reasonable that none of them have ever been in day-for-day release slip panics when late show-stoppers are found. When things kick off, the MC, having fallen down an ill-placed shaft, decides to climb into a coffin-like thing to hide from pursuers who are trying to kill him. Then the assassin next sent after him seems to conceal anti-tank rifles about her person, and ground-attack aircraft with implausibly low stall speeds in her hammerspace.

Not quite absolutely dropped, as it was almost so bad it's good. But it's way down the backlog, if ever.

The next early title had been fairly promising as a "cute girls do..." series from the PV -- and even if it was a mobage tie-in, then so was the excellent Toji no Miko. Alas, despite the success of many of the "cute girls do cute but unusual things" series, and a wacky premise really not that much worse than GaruPan's was, Sora to Umi no Aida just crashed and burned.

I had been prepared to ignore the dubious physics and might have forgiven the MoTW generator ecology of the artificial water-moons used for space-fishing, but had not been expecting a CGDC[whatever]T where the MC turned out to be such an obnoxious little brat, nor one where they were doing assertive grrlpower things incompetently. On top of which, the mobage tie-in elements were done in an overly ham-handed fashion.

As a comedy, it was even more un-funny than the running gags in Planet With, and as a "cute girls do unusual things", it made HaiFuri look like a masterpiece. A wretched waste of a couple of the minor characters, who looked like they might be promising for the CG bit, but in all, dropped like a colony after the first episode.

From the backlog, Animegataris was purely fluff, but it turned out to be very meta fluff, including things like a very knowing discussion of the 3-episode rule in the third episode.

I had expected Konohana Kitan to be mostly "cute gay fox-girls do cute gay bath-house things", perhaps trending towards Hanasaku Iroha (kemonomimi edition) as newcomer Yuzu gets introduced to life working at a hot-spring inn, that just happens to be located across the border from the waking world. Instead, the whimsical out-of-folklore (or urban legend) elements dominated, to make a charming little series all in all. Recommended.

Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu & Keiji is a pretty good "Manly Sengoku notables do manly things" title, so long as you are fine with the style of having the major characters -- the occasional grotesque amongst them -- towering over the lesser folk, in a manner akin to high-level characters in One Piece. That given, it does make for a great, albeit, ahem, larger than life, historical fiction, complete with the perfect excuse for some manly tears.

The title can be slightly misleading though -- not in the series being about the Path of Dignified Righteousness, but in the way that Keiji vanishes from the tale (except in the scenes when we return to where the two are reminiscing about the things that happened many years before), after the half-way point recap episode.

By contrast, Sengoku Collection, which I picked up on the strength of a random mention from some /a/non, recommending a few specific episodes, not only starts out with the premise of historical characters from the Sengoku Era turning into girls, but was also a very early mobage tie-in to boot. As such, it had no business being as good as it in fact turned out to be in the end. It does take a few episodes to find its feet -- I would say that episodes 7 and 8 are the first ones where it definitely surpasses being "Cute Sengoku Generals Do Cute Things" fluff, and in the final third there are several simply excellent episodes.

By managing to keep the game elements down to a simple "collect the plot tokens" visit by Cute L'il Devil Nobunaga at the end of some of the episodes, it gave a strong How-To that more recent titles could have benefited from.

If only they had not made Naoe Kanetsugu constantly look like a "kawaii uguu!" escapee from Kanon (2002) in her few appearances (this was most especially jarring when juxtaposed with Gifu DoDo's depiction of same -- contrast the pink-head below with the sake drinker above).

Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (~ Modern Magic for Dummies), a series from the IRL rather busy season of Summer '09, also takes a little while to find its feet and get past the "forced ecchi" elements of the first few episodes before settling down to be a reasonably amusing magical girl comedy.

Meanwhile autumn before last's Long Riders turned out to be the cycling anime I'd been looking for when I was watching Minami Kamakura GHSCC -- cute university students from a few miles further north and west of Kamakura do cute cycle touring things that are somewhat closer to what I do for amusement (though I find I hit a hard barrier going much past a 100km day at my usual ambling average speed of 10mph). As a leisure cyclist I enjoyed it, with the cute girls who'd leave me in the dust being a bonus.

The one Q4 show I have finished was SSSS Gridman. This started out in a somewhat uncertain manner, with some dubious (lack of) animation in the very first episode -- long still frames with maybe lip-flaps or pan/zoom fake motion, and the possibility that the budget had gone on making CGI kaiju, and Gridman himself, look like actors in rubber suits.

By the closing straight, it had resolved as a solid show, and, in the end, one where they did manage to stick the landing, staying within the previously established Gridman context (no sudden sub-Gainax aliens reveal/into space finale this time), and resolving the central conflict they'd set up. Plus, having stumbled upon the live-action series on the way to the final episode, I could see just quite how many call-outs there were to just the first Gridman episode alone. And they managed to get a snatch of the original OP in there as well.

My initial reaction was, of course, "Shinjo Akane"? Did you mean "Shinji Ikari"?

Where there were some dangling threads, they are the sort of things just worry the completists (apart from whatever hints we're supposed to derive from the ED sequence, any of the specifics leading up to the start of the series. What was Yuta (supposed to be) doing at Rikka's in the first place before losing his memory? Even if that was that little world booting up, with all the Repli-Compoids equipped with their proper back-stories, what scenario set-up did Gridman displace? Was it a fumbled love confession that sent Akane into the computer world in the first place? And if so, to whom had it been addressed?), being at best somewhat tangential to the main story. Definitely one of the better story-endings (as opposed to ones that are simply "see our continuing stories in the manga/LN/..." pauses) for an anime that I've seen in quite a while.

On-going, JoJo Vento Aureo is just more JoJo, and if it weren't for that meaning continuing "puzzle this out" stand battles, would probably have been dropped already on the usual "who are these people and why should I care?" grounds. As it is, it may go into the backlog (ahead of RErideD, though) at the end-of-quarter special (recap?) episode.

Index III, a series where I'm coming abroad several stops down the line, is a real curate's egg of a series. There are clearly several good ideas here, with a magical Europe (and magical England in particular) that come off really rather well, unfortunately interlarded with out-of-place dollops of chuuni nonsense (and not just the fan-servicey bits). On balance though, I'm intrigued enough to continue with this.

From the backlog, I'm currently on Frame Arms Girl, a toy commercial that is Pantsu Witches meets Angelic Layer, and ClassicaLoid S2 which is more of what S1 provided.

Re-watched -- Rocket Girls still cute, RahXephon somewhat more coherent when not watched one DVD at a time as it was released, but still rather "meh!"

Re-watching -- Real Drive by half-way suffers a bit from knowing where it's going, so less mystery/wonder and more being irritated by some of the characters, by contrast Dennou Coil is still good, at only a few episodes in.

December cycling

I ended the year at 1021.1 on the summer bike, or 128.1 miles for December or 2008 for the year, with more cycling than expected in a continuing mild month. Which mild weather means that the garden still hasn't shut down properly yet -- I even mowed the lawn once.

Friday, November 30, 2018

November activity

This month I ended at 893.0 on the summer bike + 10.5 miles off-meter or 151.4 total miles (1880 YTD); or about one more long ride to a pub lunch than last month -- all still riding to get some place, in cooler weather. Also wetter, which means that the convenient bridleway short-cuts are starting to get muddy enough to declare them generally closed until the spring.

However, it's not been so cold that I've been able to dig the vegetable plots, and December looks to be opening with mild enough weather that the lawn-mower might see some more use yet this year.

In the gym, now, having gotten to be able to address the bar properly for squats, I've started putting weights on, slowly. The fun is in judging what is enough for a proper load-bearing whole body exercise, while still leaving me enough reserves in the same muscles I'll be using for the cycle ride home.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

RIP rawgit

Going to put a new package on NuGet, the icon doesn't come out. So I paste the rawgit URL into the browser directly to check what's up and get a 403 that directs to, which says the service is being sun-setted, offering the following possible alternatives.

For me, the first one "just works"™, so that's what I'm migrating to, at least for the moment.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

October activity

This month I ended at 752.1 on the summer bike or 127.1 miles (1728 YTD); all just riding to get to some place (usually the gym at the Y) rather than just to be out in the open covering miles, even though the autumn weather has been generally mild so far.

And with the season advancing, it's been time to start putting the garden away for the winter, with the last of the outdoor crops gathered by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, having resumed doing weights nine months ago as a general bit of physical maintenance, I'm pleased that I've made increases in what I've been lifting. Most significantly, in trying to do squats, the major blocker has been shoulders too tight from years of hunching over keyboard and handlebars -- and a couple of months extensive stretching has finally reached the point where if I'm warmed up and well stretched (i.e. late in a session), I can actually get into position under the bar without the sinews in my upper arms complaining. Beyond the general posture improvements that this has given me (i.e. not being like these guys), it's also meant that the amounts I'm doing on the chest press machine has suddenly leapt up in a few weeks than it had done all year.

Monday, October 08, 2018

Anime roundup '18Q3

Another thin season.

Of the new shows, the only one that seemed interesting was Planet With, but after two episodes it was plain that it was not only LOL!aliens again (including our MC and his adopters), but also yet another of these series where my ideological sympathies seem to lie with one of the antagonist groups (the apparent humans). The un-funny running gags didn't help either.

I did skip ahead to the the End of Evangelion reference in episode 7, but that episode wasn't enough to make me want to follow along again like I had done with DarliFra, because here there was nothing to make me want to care about any of the characters.

The one summer show that I did watch to completion was Encouragement of Climb S3, where it seems that the girls definitely needed some firmer encouragement because there was very little in the way of climb this season (for all that it was only September/early October in continuity), or even getting equipped to climb, just plenty of mid-season misunderstandings -- maybe a third of the episodes were outdoor activity related, and even then, it verged on being YuruCampΔ at points (not that that is in itself a bad thing).

In the carry-overs, I finished ClassicaLoid S1 which abruptly went from larks about fried mandarins or brewing the perfect cup of coffee to "Suddenly, *ahem* Instrumentality..." and "Suddenly, LOL!aliens..." in an unforeshadowed burst of uncharacteristic escalation. Being a not-too-serious sit-com, it actually took these developments in its stride, unlike certain other, more recent, series.

Also finished was Majestic Prince, a decent enough not!Gundam, and another data-point, along with Fafner to suggest that Hiraiface has now become the badge of the superior mecha series, having burned its bad karma with Seed/Seed Destiny. Alas, at the last minute it went into a "Japan doesn't into endings"; the down-to-the-wire final battle ended in the closing seconds of the last episode but one, but the final episode was just filler/side-story/omake rather than being any sort of epilogue. Otherwise, generally good, apart from a few howlers in the closing episodes : "If you get in your [Mobile Suit] and go out there, you could die!" -- well, no shit, Sherlock, it's a battlefield out there; and "[Character], withdraw now!" -- well, the guy he's going toe-to-toe with might have an opinion about the feasibility of following that order.

Bonus point, though, for the character who could blend in quite happily with the Nines (their boring hair colour and un-Nine-like battle-rage aside).

On the rewatch front, DP Flash OVA2 is much weaker than OVA1 (though I can appreciate some of the parodies more this time around), and OVA3 weaker still (and not improved by knowing more about anime tics in general since the first time I watched it).

Somewhat better was Ghost Hound. Even knowing that it all falls apart at the end, the first episodes are still so very strikingly and eerily atmospheric. It's at around the 2/3 mark that the signs emerge of it going horribly wrong, before grinding into an anti-climactic ending which hand-waves away the core conceits of the story in favour of resolving one strand that had only emerged a few episodes earlier.

Sengoku Basara S1 OTOH is just plai... PUT YER GUNS ON LET'S PARTY!

Other new-from-the-backlog series included watching a bunch more episodes of Shiki, but I put it to one side again after the rather underwhelming episode where the doctor vivisects (necrosects?) his wife; and Captain Earth, which for the first three episodes it was shaping up as a so-so mech series, with a novel way for the main mech to combine out of parts, and a sub-MajPri style of antagonist faction from outer space.

Then, episode 4.

After it having been stated that should the bad guys reach Earth, Bad Things™ would happen, in this episode, the invaders (both of them) drive a truck carrying one of their mechs off a ferry from mainland Japan and into the good guys' Secret Main Base with its sea-front location on some small island. Bad Things™, however, do not happen. This is one of the dumbest things I've seen in anime in years. I think I lost the will to continue.

Also in this state of dropped after a trial is selector Infected WIXOSS, which looked like it was shaping up to be Mari Okada's Mean Girls' Club, when from the aesthetic it could and should have been more like [C] but without the wonky economics; and Pandora in the Crimson Shell : Ghost Urn, which you could tell was minor Shirow (and not in a good way like Healthy Drive or Ghost Hound); at least it refrained from importing all his fetishes. Both dropped after two episodes.

More successful was GitS:Arise (watching the original OVAs plus the TV finale), which as yet another GitS continuity, works fine -- it imports some of the aesthetics of the later GitS manga, especially in the cyberspace sections, both in look-and-feel, and in that Makoto has her robot helpers along with her, so doesn't fit as a prequel to anything. That said, the c1990 vision of the world of the future (and the not-the-Iraq War) is being rapidly encroached upon by the present day (even at the time of making), and not in a good way.

Also looking promising are 2013's Gifu Dodo : Kanetsugu and Keiji and the previous year's Sengoku Collection -- though watching episodes of these in quick succession can be quite amusing, going from the Fist of the North Star look to the almost 1990's anime girls and they're meant to be the same character; and a rewatch of Rocket Girls, which even with the CGI of a decade ago, is still as delightful as I remember it.

Monday, October 01, 2018

September Cycling

This month I ended at 625 on the summer bike or 192.4 miles (1601 YTD), with just the one long bike-ride to add the arc around Biggleswade to the limits map.

The weather stayed fine and warm, almost to the end of the month, one wet and windy week aside, so I took advantage of the last warm day for the long ride, taking two other quiet crossings of the A1 to make the revisit I'd promised myself last month

The Anchor at Great Barford

with the weather still being warm enough to want to sit outside and enjoy the view

The view from my table

Having thought of the A1 as a barrier, it turned out to be remarkably porous once I planned ahead rather than doing a tour on a whim. Other busy A-roads get in the way far more.

Friday, August 31, 2018

August Cycling

So the month ended at 15778.6, 432.6 = 64.4 + 187.6 for a total of 252 miles (1409 YTD), beating May's total by 5%, and adding another arc to the limits map.

The weather had moderated by mid-month, and that meant that conditions were much more pleasant for long-distance rides. So, having got the summer bike back and done a warm-up 40-miler to the NE of Cambridge (well within the established bounds) I plotted a course that would take advantage of two quiet crossings of the A1, and a convenient Sandy-to-Bedford off-road cycle route. And though the OS map I was using was silent on the subject, I also found a good pub for lunch, the Anchor at Great Barford, which I shall have to visit again at some point, on another bounds-busting ride to the west.

Saturday, August 04, 2018

July Cycling

So the month ended at 15714.2, 245.0, battery exhaustion on the folding bike odo between using it and coming to record the mileage here = 13.3 + 147.1 + 47 estimated for a total of 207 (1157 YTD); the second best month for the year, despite excessive heat for much of the month, and a sudden failure of the back wheel of my summer bike.

A new kind of fail

Holidaying in Southport and some runs down the coast from there, in slightly cooler (and slightly wetter) weather than down south, helped pull the total up. Of course, slightly didn't prevent the countryside being tinder dry, and in places burned or even burning

Wildfire on Rimrose Park

This on a park alongside the Leeds and Liverpool canal, surrounded by built-up areas, not some remote moorland.