Friday, November 17, 2017

Shortwave Blues Update

Just a reminder, with the shortening days and the shift from daylight savings to standard time, WWCR's Friday evening blues show Last Radio Playing is now on 5935 kHz at 6pm CST, or 0000z.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Andy Weir's Book #2 is Out: Artemis

Haven't read it yet, but considering that this is from the guy who wrote The Martian, I'll have it on my kindle in a couple of minutes.  From the blurb:
Jazz Bashara is a criminal.  Well, sort of.  Life on Artemis, the first and only city on the moon, is tough if you're not a rich tourist or an eccentric billionaire.  So smuggling in the occasional harmless bit of contraband barely counts, right?  Not when you've got debts to pay and your job as a porter barely covers rent.  Everything changes when Jazz sees the chance to commit the perfect crime, with a reward too lucrative to turn down.  But pulling off the impossible is just the start of her problems, as she learns that she's stepped square into a conspiracy for control of Artemis itself – and that now, her only chance at survival lies in a gambit even riskier than the first.
Very different than The Martian, but of course it should be.   BTW, NPR's reviewer was not impressed.  Do you need more recommendation than that?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

All the Hurricanes of 2017, in Two Minutes

Pretty impressive.  Click to embiggen.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Circular Development in Cycling

Remember the old SoftRide suspension bike stem?  Maybe?  Long gone, but now there's this:

Nothing wrong with the idea, and it seems to have pretty good bearings in this incarnation too.  Still... it's weird to see the idea being trotted out again.  It was never a bad idea to begin with, it just couldn't keep up with telescoping hydraulic forks on the trail.  But you know, on the whole they worked pretty well circa 1995.  Biggest difference this time around is that the new product is intended for rough but not off-road use.  Full details, a video, and an entry form to win one over at Bicycle Times.

BTW, what ever happened to SoftRide?  Looks like they're in the bike rack business now, having dropped all of their suspension products.  I guess "suspend the rider, not the bike" was a seeming good idea that's been surpassed in this age where 4" travel XC forks are the norm.  Here's a link to SoftRide's current site.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Movie Review: The Lost City of Z

After hearing that this movie is about Percy Fawcett, one of the real-life people who inspired the character Indiana Jones, of course I was going to see it.  As you can probably guess from the title, it's about a British explorer who goes looking for a fabled lost city in the Amazon jungle.  There are several expeditions that come tantalizingly close, but something always hold the expeditions back at the last reach.  And of course, the entire enterprise is interrupted by World War I.  Finally and inevitably, Fawcett doesn't return and that is that.

As for the movie, it's beautifully made and well acted.  Perhaps the worst that I can say about it is that the continuity of events gets a little choppy, and the wardrobes and costumes department perhaps had too good of a time dressing people up.  But the events span twenty years here, so of course to pack it all in the filmmakers had to jump quickly from WWI to 1924, and a little bit of over-plush wardrobe can be forgiven.  Finally, the ending is tastefully handled and followed up by a few small, respectful epilog title cards.  It's a good movie, call it 3 out of 4 stars.  Nothing really ever knocked my socks off at any point along the way, but the overall effect is of a good tale well told.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Tent Maintenance: Nicwax Solarproof-ing the Tents

As recommended on The First 40 Miles podcast, we bring you Nicwax Solarproof:

It's advertised as a water repellent and solar-proofing spray, and it gets good general recommendations from hikers and reviewers.  Interesting part is that the instructions say to wet the fabric before applying, and that really does seem to be key to getting this stuff to wick around and into the individual threads.

On the new backpacking tent the fly was still reasonably waterproof, so even dunking it into a bucket of water didn't do a lot.  However the old 2-man tent was a different story.  The fly must've soaked up a gallon of water, and it greedily soaked up the Nicwax too.  No wonder it wasn't doing such a great job in heavy rain anymore!  They're both out in the yard drying right now.  Just did the rain flys, no need to do any of the covered parts.

Protip: wear some kind of wet-proof gloves, rubber or nitryl or similar.  When you wipe off the excess (and use a cloth you'll throw away), you're going to get it all over your hands and by intention and chemical engineering this stuff doesn't want to wash off.  It's not horrible, but... I wish I'd though of this ahead of time.

Book Review x2: Authority & Acceptance

Having read, reviewed, and reconsidered and re-reviewed the first novel in Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, and with the movie of Annihilation coming out in February, what the hell, I read the last two books.  And I have to say that while they had their highlights, they weren't worth the slog.  There are some interesting ideas brought up, and of course lots of wonderful weirdness, but it's all overpowered by the political maneuverings within the government organizations investigating the weirdness.  The two books just drag and drag, and the payoffs and reveals aren't enough to warrant a reader's time.

Ah well, there were a few moments of "hey, I know that place" recognition that were confirmed in the author's acknowledgments.  That was pretty cool.  And I'm still looking forward to the movie this coming February.  But as for the books... well, maybe if you're really into New Weird and a fast reader who doesn't mind plowing through hundreds of pages of bureaucratic maunderings, then give it a shot.  As for the rest of us, admire the inside-cover illustrations, see the movie, move on.