Archive for February, 2007

Leveling out

Wednesday, February 7th, 2007

So for all of January we couldn’t get any snow, now the nature is doing its best to even out the winter average during February.

It’s -25 Celcius (-13 Fahrenheit) out there, with a wind of 3 meters (9 ft) per second to boost it to an effective temperature of -35 C (-31 F). Freezing damage is a real risk if you either don’t equip yourself properly or stay outside for too long. It’s actually going to get colder still, with predictions of -40 C (-40 F), including the wind factor.

With the air this cold, the streets are practically empty, you can’t trust the public transportation and yu avoid trying to start your 15-year old car. If we lived outside city limits, there’d be freezing plumbing to worry about.

I had a parallel to write about in my mind during the commute this morning, but I can’t think of it now. I guess the winter magic erased it from the synapses.

Bookshelf: Absolution Gap

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

Alastair Reynolds’ concluding work in his Revelation Space series is the first book in the series to feel like a sequel. Indeed, you won’t get much out of it without prior exposure to the overall story.

As usual, Reynolds has two main storylines interweaving though the book, set at different times but concentrating on the same location. This being a universe of slower than light space travel, those separating decades can evaporate over the course of one interstellar passage in cryogenic sleep.

The bigger story pulls together the ongoing destinies of the Revelation Space central cast. It does so in a satisfying manner, but there is an undercurrent of wrapping things up, which takes away from the overall value of the story.

The other story is all about the titular Absolution Gap and is much more interesting than the overarching plot. it is set on a planet orbiting a gas giant. The gas giant has disappeared for an eyeblink some dozens of times over the past centuries. This has led to churches forming on the world, who take it as their duty to watch the giant, waiting for another disappearance, hoping to get a glimpse of the divine. They literally stare at the planet all the time, using machines, medicine and drugs to keep their eyes open.

However, because of orbital drift, the churches need to be mobile to keep the giant in their view at all times. This has lead to a mass of tracked cathedrals, making their way across the planet to keep as directly below the gaint as possible. The story concerns a girl who makesher way to the cathedrals to look for her lost brother, but stumbles upon much bigger things. The moving cathedrals make a stunning backdrop for pretty basic intrigue.

Reynolds is by no means running out of ideas, and Absolution Gap is filled with cool stuff and great moments. It’s just its attempt at providing closure which undermines it.

Taking the time

Thursday, February 1st, 2007

I’ve been very busy at work for some time, which is no wonder considering how much my role has changed over the past half a year. I’m pulling regular overtime – not a huge amount, but something that adds up to whole days quickly.
The thing is, potential days off to compensate for the overtime aren’t helping my stress level or lack of time with my family at all. I have now decided to schedule a day off, or half a day off, whenever I’m adding up my hours and notice that there are whole days in the reserve.

I used to think that I’ll save up the days and extend one of my regular vacations by a substantial amount, but it’s no good pushing all that overtime by half a year or so. Another thing that’s been holding me back is thinking that I can’t be away for one day. In my new role I’m pretty much in control of my own schedule, so I can decide well ahead of time that I’m absent on a given day.

This situation aggravated yesterday as I put in 14 hours in one day, but I’m glad it did. As I’ve said before, it is easy to get lost in the daily grind.