Sunday, September 30, 2012

Harvest Home

Picked the last of the (April blossom) plums today -- the best part of a month later than usual; and made a first run for blackberries, ditto late. And while the cherry tomatoes outdoors seem to be coming to the end of their run, the runner beans are still going, albeit slowly, and the greenhouse tomatoes are just about hitting their stride.

The apples on the Charles Ross are getting pecked by birds, but when I've salvaged them, they still taste under-ripe.

The broccoli -- old and new -- were ravaged by caterpillars this month (again way late), so I don't know whether there'll be anything to harvest next year. But then I'm still getting leaves off the one surviving chard plant from last year as well as this year's run of perpetual spinach, so I have no clue about what the garden is doing.


Well, I managed to surprise myself this quarter. After a fairly wet start, by the middle of this month it started to seem like I might manage to come close to covering 1000 miles on my bike, but with 23.3 miles still to cover on Friday evening, it looked like it might be a bit tight. But with fair warm, if breezy weather on Saturday, I could take a detour on the way home from town to do some gratuitous miles, and go over the target to about 1006 miles.

Then an unexpected excuse arose for another dash into town today for some shopping I'd missed yesterday, and suddenly 2^10 miles went from being an insane stretch goal, to feasible, to achieved, thanks to a side-trip to pick blackberries, at a total of 1025.7 for the quarter, not counting the miles on a hire bike, back in July; and 1901.5 -- 2000 miles would have been beyond insane as a goal -- for the year (or 2103 all-in).

That leaves me just under 160 miles to match last year's total, and 270 to match the miles done excluding hired transport. With a few weeks of cyclable season left, the former seems achieveable, and the latter a plausible stretch,

Monday, September 03, 2012

Recent Reading

Humanity's Fire Trilogy by Michael Cobley

This starts off with a bait-and-switch, the solar system under attack by a swarm of machine intelligences as last-ditch starship launches try to escape the plague. Then fast-forward to a time when, after the temporary inconvenience, Earth is a minor power in a well populated part of the galaxy, and has rediscovered one of the colonies of that desperate exodus. Which just happens to be where a previous cycle of spacefaring civilisation fought the last major battle.

In all, it's harmless spaceship fiction, with a moderately novel cosmology of sedimenting layers of hyperspace, and a heavy seasoning of tropes from cyberpunk onwards; though the ending suddenly arrives in a cloud of anti-climax.

Despite the title, there's no Campbell style "humans are the best" -- the human colonies are more the people who are in the wrong place at the wrong time, with the major blows against the various antagonist factions coming from other sources.

Verdict: entertaining enough for me to have picked up a volume per year as it came out in paperback, but not a classic.

Helix by Eric Brown

His Kethani was harmless enough, and I'm a sucker for Big Dumb Object SF, so I picked this up as part of my stash of holiday reading.

Oh dear. The first chapter sets up a greentarded future a century or so hence, which somehow manages to combine a disease and CAGW ravaged humanity down to the tens of millions with a viable long-shot starship program. The second chapter flips to humans in fursuits in some frozen environment, suffering under a stock model Church. In the third, the starship, 1000 years out, traveling at half the speed of light is a parsec from a gravity well -- then a few moments later it crash lands on an apparent planetary surface.

At this point I put this travesty down, having given it three strikes and it's out, with just one afterthought -- if you're running a 1000 year last-chance colony mission when the human race is dying out due to transient ecological issues, aim for somewhere that it likely to be habitable a millennium hence, by doing a simple cometary orbit to the Kuiper Belt, and expect homeostasis to have reasserted itself by then.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Once More with feeling

And it's time for the Cambridge Film Festival again, this blog's original raison d'ĂȘtre. So, I checked out the features program on-line.

It may be the way that the puff-pieces are written, but once again I'm underwhelmed, and am left thinking in some cases "Why would anyone make that film?". Can't see myself making the effort to go to any of them.

Eastwood's Unforgiven, which I saw on late night TV while on holiday back in May will probably be the only film I see this year at this rate.


So 619 miles on my bike since the end of June, or 746 in total -- meaning nearly 400 miles in August. So, I should push the 1000 miles comfortably this month, all being well, and can see how the last quarter of the year shapes up.