yet another sf list

SF books on a shelf

I posted a few years ago around desires to work my way through some of the top SF novels ever, the canon if you like. The hard bit is working out what the canon should and shouldn’t include and whether there is truly a universal approach. Many of the lists tend to focus on US and UK publications. This post points out that issue in its discussion of yet another list, this time it’s the list from World Without End. It contains lots of related lists and its main SF one contains 256 titles. Of those, I’ve read 79, or approximately 31%. Come to think of it, I’d read around 30% of the list I used in 2012 (32 out of 100). This new list contains a broader variety of titles and does manage to include a graphic novel, Watchmen, yet where is Saga? Is it more that graphic novels tend not to get counted in lists with novels…is the genre too segmented?

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tooling along

Riffing off Kate’s post around staying organised, I’m a little less organised but still have a need to have some structures in place. I posted a few years back about my calendar efforts and re-reading that post I can say that it continues to work well enough for me.  I’ve got my work calendar feeding into my rainlendar setup so I usually check the night before if I have any morning meetings. I did need to update the calendar on my phone as my old phone calendar stopped supporting transparent overlays so I’m now using a paid version of Business Calendar 2.

I used to be a big fan of evernote and was willing to pay but didn’t like their subscription options, particularly as I only used it occasionally. Further I found the interface a little overwhelming for my needs. Mostly I was using it for sharing text and the occasional PDF across my devices. On the text side I’ve recently installed Simplenote and that’s been fab so far. The interface is basic and the data exchange quick. It’s easy to set up, make notes and sync across my various devices. I’m still using evernote to store PDFs occasionally but that’s primarily when I travel and I could probably move those to dropbox and get rid of evernote altogether.

In 2014, I put together a list of all the apps I’d paid for at the time. Looking back, I finally managed to cancel my sub to which I haven’t touched since. As I commented a few weeks ago, I have started paying for wordpress and I’m still paying for flickr. I moved to feedly from google reader and have been fine with the free version. I wouldn’t mind paying for it as I use it as part of my regular reading but less keen about paying US$65/year for it. I’m somewhat stuck between wanting to pay  a one off price but recognising that it does need continuing support. The free version is sufficient and I don’t need to upgrade but would like a friendlier charge to enable me to give something back.

I have a paid subscription to the digital version of the Sydney Morning Herald via its android app. Unfortunately the android app is occasionally buggy, seems to be poorly supported and doesn’t have all the features that the apple version of the app has. It’s frustrating to use ie you can read the current day’s paper, once it update’s with the next day’s paper you lose access to the news content of the previous day. Whereas the apple version lets you view digital versions of the previous 7 days I think…though that’s PDF format, based on the image of the printed version. Come to think of it, I complained about all this stuff in 2014 and nothing has changed since.

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writing companions

I commented earlier that my current job seems to require a lot more physical, actual pen on paper, writing. I’ve slowly, very slowly, adjusted to this. Last year, I bought a pretty Lamy ballpoint pen which I have to say has worked out rather well. Writing with a good pen does make a difference and has a much happier hand-feel.

Recently I bought a Lamy fountain pen as the ballpoint version in deep violet didn’t fit comfortably in my hand ie my desire for the right sort of fit and the right sort of colour meant that I’ve ended up migrating to the fountain pen world. I’ve taken to it like a duck to water and from the start it’s felt good…mostly. I have to be a little careful as writing feels a little like scratching the paper rather than flowing across it. However it dries quickly and otherwise feels nice, and forces me to take more care. I have a suspicion that longer term it will strongly encourage me to write with improved clarity. This is not a bad thing.

That’s the pen part sorted. The other part of this equation is finding the right sort of pad. Both Kate and Con have commented on their love of Midori pads., Indeed, I too love the look of them and suspect they otherwise would work well for me. However I have discovered that I don’t like the book style approach to pads. Come to think of it, I don’t like it for ereaders either and prefer flip over covers. So the Midori traveler approach of books held together with elastic growing ever larger doesn’t quite work for me. Alas.

27304110624_752acfebce_nFor a while now, I’ve been buying cheap spiral based based notebooks from Officeworks as they’re about the right size and form that I like. The feel not so much. Thankfully, I have recently discovered that Moleskine make a notepad they call Reporter-Large. This is just about right though I suspect I’d like a slightly fancier version. The feel of the moleskine is lovely but I think I’d like something a little more leathery. It’s tightly ruled which means my writing is shrinking to fit the space yet remaining legible.

I suspect I can categorise this post under things I never expected to write. I’m a tech boy afterall, and a keyboard dedicated tech-boy at that. Oh well, perhaps that means I can still change my ways in new and interesting directions.

Posted in flotsam, june | 3 Comments

i bought a red car

After finally putting all my thoughts down around buying a car the other day, I bit the bullet and bought a car I’d had my eye on for a while. It’s one thing to look at a car online and another to look at it in person. Prior to heading out, I mentally went through the pros and cons of buying a car and almost talked myself out of it. Ultimately it came down to the fact that I wanted to keep going with a second car, and my current car is almost dead.

My partner also has a car but it’s automatic and family oriented. My replacement car is more family oriented than my previous car including the inclusion of back doors. In 2001, I managed to buy a new car, my only new car, a Peugeot 206XR, black. My replacement car is a 2007 Peugeot 207XT, red. Unlike my old car, the aircon works, the tacometer works, the gears change smoothly, the cd player works ie everything works. It does have some hail damage and a few other scratches, but it’s only done 68,000km compared to the 150,000 or so of my current vehicle and it must be said is in better condition than my old car was at the same age. I’m not good at looking after cars. Unsurprisingly.

8196156606_bcfab70eee_nI did my research, reading up on the model, it’s slightly larger than my old car but not too much. I took it for a test drive and it was nice and easy with the same gear stretch that my old car has. Geez I sound like an old man…my new car is the same as my old old car but better…and red. I set myself a budget and this was the best value car that came close. The sense I have is if it wasn’t for the hail dents (not badly so), the car would have been significantly pricier. I’ve kept an eye on it online and it hasn’t sold for a couple of months so I was able to negotiate a cheaper price. It was on offer for $5,950, I offered $5,000 and they came back with a sharp $5,250 which I thought was a good outcome. It was a fair offer and I didn’t need to be hard-nosed about it. I paid a deposit, will do an EFT on the remainder during the week and pick it up after I vote on Saturday.

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five in the evening

Had no mood to blog the last few days and have been using pre-prepared efforts. I have found it useful to write multiple posts when I’m in the mood, which covers me for when I’m not in the mood. And this one is just another list of interesting things:

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My car rego is due for renewal in a few weeks. I got a bit of a shock when the renewal cost turned out to be around $150 or so higher than anticipated. I bought my little pug new in 2001, a black Peugeot 206 and I remain very fond of it. The duco on the roof has all but gone, it has a few dents, the aircon doesn’t work but engine-wise it’s still excellent and is fun to drive. It’s the first car and only car I ever bought new.

I ran a few comparisons through the green slip calculator and sure enough there’s a steady increase in price the older the car gets. The actual figure is about $80 comparing the same model of a 2001 car ($683) with a 2006 car ($603) according to the current system. I went back and checked what I paid last year and indeed, it was only $544 ie there seems to be a new approach this year and my rego has jumped $140 compared to 2015.

I am currently mulling over whether to carry on and renew my current vehicle or look seriously at purchasing something a little more recent. I have long lusted after a red turbo charged fiat Abarth but have a sneaking suspicion that it might be a little too much of a hoon machine for me these days. Alternatively, spending a lot less and buying a secondhand car not dissimilar to my own is not unattractive. In fact I’ve come across a 2007 peugeot 207 which is in significantly better condition than my 206, has working aircon and is red. On the other hand (is this my third or fourth hand), I drive my own car a lot less than I used to as my partner also has a car. Having grown up in Sydney’s west, the idea of not having my own car sits awkwardly in my head. So much baggage :-)

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it’s all in the cask

Following on from my earlier post on flavour profiles, one of the things that I’ve begun to recognise is the way that different casks affect the flavour of the whisky. Particularly if the whisky has been put in barrels that have been used previously for other types of drinks including bourbon, sherry and port. David Stewart, the malt master at Balvenie, developed a procedure for 2 cask maturation whereby whiskies are moved to a new cask in their final months of maturation. A current favourite of mine is Balvenie’s DoubleWood 17 year old which is initially aged in American oak barrels and finished in European oak sherry barrels.

When I was in Tasmania I sampled a few whiskies from Overeem including their 43% sherry cask and their 43% port cask. I love the sherry cask version but not really into the port version. I’ve just had a look at Highland Park’s website and was amused to discover that they prefer sherry casks too :-) I recently sampled and bought a bottle of Benriach’s Pedro Ximinez sherry cask whisky. My palate seems to be following a very clear pattern here :) I’ve just come across a top 10 sherry based whiskies to try, of which I think the Yamazaki is the only one I’ve tried and it too was yum.

With that said, I need to avoid limiting factors too. There are other barrel options that seem to work well for me. When I was in NZ last year I got to try “The 1987“, 1987 being the year the whisky was put into the barrel. I’m unclear which barrel it was stored in but the notes refer to both american oak and ex-bourbon barrels. It may well have started in American oak and been finished in the ex-bourbon…or vice versa :) Either way, it was a soft, smooth dram that was utterly delish.

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