Monthly Archives: May 2013

May 2013 Round-up

Somehow, another month has come creaking to a conclusion, which means it must be time for this:

Weight

May 1: 219.1 pounds (15 stone 9.1 pounds, 99.4 kg)
May 31: 218.3 pounds (15 stone 8.3 pounds, 99 kg)

That’s an almost negligible drop of 0.8 pounds (0.4kg). On the positive side, it’s not a rise, and I was a couple of pounds lighter a week or so ago. Mutter.

Eating

I’ve managed to shun the sausage rolls for another month, and mostly been moderately good.

Exercise

There was a distinct lack of walking to work, but I did manage to get out for some decent weekend trips, which involved some good walks.

Posting

A bit quieter than last month, with this report bringing the total to an almost sane 52.

Stuff

More photography needs to be done!

Weight and Stuff Report – 31 May 2013

Up again today, which may have something to do with my lunch break being swallowed by a long meeting with food provided. Mutter.

Today’s photograph is the National Monument on Calton Hill, Edinburgh. Image tweaked a bit, with some humans edited out.

The National Monument

The National Monument

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/550s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 57.3027′ 0″ N 3° 10.9384′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 May 2013

Down a wee bit on another day when I didn’t get to do much walking…

Today’s photograph is of the statue of Alexander the Great and his hose Bucephalus in the courtyard of Edinburgh’s City Chambers. I went for this angle to avoid the tour group clustered around the other side.

Alexander and Bucephalus

Alexander and Bucephalus

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/160s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 56.9926′ 0″ N 3° 11.4112′ 0″ W

Terry Pratchett – Lords and Ladies

Carrying on with the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon, and it’s back to the witches, with that rare thing in the series, an actual sequel. This follows on from Witches Abroad, and starts as Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg and Magrat Garlick return to Lancre after their travels.

It’s been observed before that the Discworld is a bit on the leaky side, which can lead to things popping over from other dimensions or realities. At certain times, the walls between worlds become thinner, and, err, things can get through. The things in this instance are Elves. And you’d better forget any Tolkien-type thoughts. These aren’t your highly-civilised elder race, oh no. These are the real elves of folklore, who got the name “the fair folk” in the same way that the ancient Greeks referred to the Furies as “the kindly ones”. These are the sort of creatures who won’t just kill you, they’ll play with you first. Not only that, but they have the power of glamour, which basically means you’ll see them precisely the way they want you to, which is quite different from what they really are. They’ll make you think you’re worthless compared to them.

Dealing with them is a bit of a challenge even for the witches, and it takes all three of them to get anywhere. There’s more fun with Magrat’s impending marriage to the King (Verence, the former Fool we met in Wyrd Sisters), the under-staffed castle and the general lunacy of Discworld life.

Verence is having a bit of trouble settling down to being King, not least because

He had formed the unusual opinion that the job of a king is to make the kingdom a better place for everyone to live in.

As the wedding is a major occasion, the wizards have been invited, so there’s more fun with Archchancellor Ridcully

Stibbons gave up. Using a metaphor in front of a man as unimaginative as Ridcully was like a red rag to a bu- was like putting something annoying in front of a person who was annoyed by it.

And some actual thinking

Shoot the dictator and prevent the war? But the dictator is merely the tip of the whole festering boil of social pus from which dictators emerge; shoot one and there’ll be another one along in a minute.

But it’s not all serious, as the gags flow like the Ankh doesn’t

“The thing about elves is they’ve got no… begins with m,” Granny snapped her fingers irritably.
“Manners?”
“Hah! Right, but no.”
“Muscle? Mucus? Mystery?”
“No. No. No. Means like… seein’ the other person’s point of view.”
Verence tried to see the world from a Granny Weatherwax perspective, and suspicion dawned.
“Empathy?”

Nanny Ogg has another encounter with Casanunda, the world’s second greatest lover, which includes enjoying a bottle of wine

“What did you say it’s called?” She peered at the label. “Chateau Maison? Chat-eau… that’s foreign for cat’s water, you know.”

Talking of cats, Nanny’s cat Greebo teaches us something Erwin Shroedinger never mentioned about a cat in a box:

Greebo had spent an irritating two minutes in that box, Technically, a cat locked in a box may be alive or it may be dead. You never know until you look. In fact the mere act of opening the box will determine the state of the cat, although in this case there were three determinate states the cat could be in: these being Alive, Dead and Bloody Furious.

You can guess which state Greebo was in.

There is, of course, much more. There’s extreme Morris Dancing, an old romance, and well, stuff.

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 May 2013

No change today, which will do for now. I managed a bit of a walk at lunchtime, but nothing very much…

Here’s a photograph of the statue of Adam Smith outside St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh:

Adam Smith

Adam Smith

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/420s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 56.9871′ 0″ N 3° 11.3995′ 0″ W

And if you’re not keen on Adam Smith, here’s someone more cheerful:

Smile!

Smile!

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/50s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 56.9871′ 0″ N 3° 11.3995′ 0″ W

 

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 May 2013

Oh good, back down again today after that odd bit of bloat over the last couple of days.

Not a lot to say for now, so here’s Edinburgh Castle with just some of the people visting it.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/120s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 56.9056′ 0″ N 3° 11.8723′ 0″ W

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 May 2013

Another upward thingy today, quite possibly related to being remarkably inactive yesterday. I did manage a brief trip to Newcastle today, but didn’t walk very much or indeed hang around for long. Apparently all those hills and steps in Edinburgh on Saturday wore me out more than I thought…

Today’s photograph shows Arthur’s Seat as seen from Calton Hill.

Arthur's Seat

Arthur’s Seat

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/220s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 57.2386′ 0″ N 3° 10.832′ 0″ W

Terry Pratchett – Small Gods

Yes, it’s time for another entry in the Great Terry Pratchett Re-read-athon. And this is where it gets serious. Well, it’s still laugh out loud and get funny looks on the bus funny, but it’s also very serious. This one’s about religion, about gods and where they come from and where they go.

Omnia is a small country run by the Church of the Great God Om. Unlike all those nasty heathens in places like Ephebe, the Omnians believe that the world is a sphere floating in space, and all that stuff about a disc sitting on elephants who are standing on an unusually large turtle is nothing but vile heresy. Of course, this being the Discworld, they’re not entirely right about that, but that’s never stopped them invading other countries to, err, share their wisdom, and err, persuading people when they persist in believing in the wrong things. The persuasion is carried out by the Quisition, whose inquisitors do all the traditional stretching, cutting, burning and the like, and whose exquisitors do the questioning. The head of the Quisition is a man called Vorbis, who is not the kind of chap you want to get on the wrong side of. Not that he’s got a right side, come to think of it.

At the lower end of the Church, indeed about as low as you can get, is Brutha. A novice who seems fated to remain at a lowly status for all his life. Not actually stupid, but awkward, though equipped with a perfect memory.

Brutha’s life changes when a voice speaks to him while he’s gardening. The voice claims to be the Great God Om himself, and comes from a battered one-eyed tortoise. Oddly, nobody else can hear the voice, which is strange, because you’d think that in the heart of the Church of the Great God Om, there’d be loads of true believers who would know their god’s voice when they hear it…

And so an adventure begins, which takes Brutha through numerous torments, not least having to spend a lot of time with Vorbis. But it’s also the story of Om, who’s in the lowly form of a tortoise because there isn’t enough belief to allow him to take a grander form, let alone do any decent smiting. He knows what’s going on, but he’s not about to reveal that to his one true believer:

“Opened my eyes… my eye… and I was a tortoise.”
“Why?”
“How should I know? I don’t know!” lied the tortoise.
“But you… you’re omnicognisant,” said Brutha.
“That doesn’t mean I know everything.”

Quite. As the story develops, we get to know more about the people involved. For instance,

Vorbis had a terrible memory for names. He knew every one

He goes very calm if he’s kept waiting

During a visit to Ephebe, we meet a load of philosophers, last seen in Pyramids, and still arguing a lot, and democratically electing their Tyrant on a regular basis.

Candidates for the Tyrantship were elected by the placing of black or white balls in various urns, thus giving rise to a well-known comment about politics.

Later, when much has changed[1], the atheist Sergeant Simony[2] argues with the Great God Om:

Don’t think you can get around me by existing!

And Brutha ends up being something special. He wants the Quisition brought to an end, and he wants it done the hard way:

“You want me to kill all the inquisitors? Right!”
“No. That’s the easy way. I want as few deaths as possible.”

And his best line comes right at the end, but you’ll have to read that for yourself, so there.

I’ll just leave you with one of Terry’s lovely bits of dodgy Latin:

Some attempt to answer this was made by the religious philosopher Koomi of Smale in his book Ego-Video Liber Deorum, which translates into the vernacular roughly as Gods: A Spotter’s Guide.

Readers of sufficient age might suspect that a more accurate translation would be the I-Spy Book of Gods, of course.

Oh, and as I was mentally plotting what to say about this book, I spotted Om in Tesco’s, and he followed me home:

Om

Om

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/30s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 800
Taken: 26 May, 2013

He hasn’t started talking to me yet, though. Maybe I should offer him some lettuce?

Om's head

Om’s head

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/4
Shutter speed: 1/17s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 800
Taken: 26 May, 2013

[1] Details omitted for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet
[2] It takes a brave man to be an atheist on the Discworld, the gods hate that kind of thing…

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 May 2013

After all that walking in Edinburgh yesterday, I had enough odd little aches to decide that it might be a good idea to have a quiet day in, which is what I did.

This is a photograph of the statue of Sherlock Holmes, which can be found near the birthplace of his creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I found it after reading the sign on the nearby Conan Doyle pub. I’m not sure Conan Doyle would have approved, really. He always wanted to be remembered for his more serious historical novels that are pretty much forgotten these days…

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes

Camera: X100S
Aperture: ƒ/5.6
Shutter speed: 1/350s
Focal length: 23mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 May, 2013
Location: 55° 57.4117′ 0″ N 3° 11.2042′ 0″ W