Quarantine – Week seventeen (Holiday week 1) + eighteen (Holiday week 2) + nineteen (Holiday week 3)

Oh, yeah. Writing.

I spent the first three days of week 17 (holiday week 1) virtually present at the Bone Research Society meeting. I had a couple of other meetings that week too. So much for being on holiday. The dog did get plenty of walks and treats and will probably miss me greatly when I do return to work.

Holiday week two was much more of a holiday (from work, at least). No meetings attended, no emails replied to. I should do this more often. I explored Valence Park with the dog and found he is well behaved off the lead and quite happy to come when called and generally tear around the grass like a mad thing. It goes without saying that I only do this when there is no one else around or no other dogs close by.

On Saturday of week two, I cycled from home to Regent’s Park via the London Library to meet with some friends for a socially distanced picnic. Cycle route provision in London is so much better than I remember from 15-20 years ago. After a few hours in the park, my legs were cramping up on the cycle north. The bike is now awaiting the attention of a service engineer before I start using for my regular commute.

I did a bit of comet chasing this week, including taking my camera and tripod over to the park at 11pm for a darker sky and a better view North. I was undisturbed aside from a couple of mosquitoes, and a tiny blue light in the grass that turned out to be a dog being walked at distance.

A single 5s exposure of comet neowise

Holiday week three has flown by, more dog walking and one evening’s astrophotography.

The Ring Nebula and surrounding stars

The sky conditions look poor for the next week or so, so that’s probably the last imaging I’ll get to do before I return to work. Fingers crossed to hear more from the job application in progress.

Quarantine – Week fifteen

More bike riding than writing (or dog walking).

Monday 2020/06/22
Should have been on holiday in Shetland.
Rode the bike to work as a test of the route and how long it would take. My tracking app put me at 55 min to get there and 45 min to get back. The wind was definitely against me going there, so this makes some sense. That said, the tracking app also had me going at 320 km/h at one point.

Tuesday 2020/06/23
Total write-off of a day after a really bad night’s sleep.

Wednesday 2020/06/24
Had to take a couple of trains today, made sure I was masked up and touched as little as possible. On the outward part of my journey roughly 50% of the people on my train were un-masked (almost all women). One lady sat opposite me after spreading a plastic bag carefully on the seat and wiping down everything around her with sanitiser. She then took off she mask for the rest of the journey.

On the return journey later in the day, similar numbers were un-masked, but this time it was all men.

Fuck you Boris.

Thursday 2020/06/25
Worked.

Friday 2020/06/26
Worked on a job application. It requires a whole document I’d never heard of before and had to create from scratch. M is a fantastic help ❤️.

Saturday 2020/06/27
It felt like a Sunday all day. Worked more on the document. Helped make a cake.

Sunday 2020/06/28
Cycled with M around Crouch End and Highgate. Bought takeaway BBQ from the Woodman Pub (very good social distancing all around A++) and sat to eat in the woods. We were watched intently by a squirrel and a crow (I’m sure they were working on cohort) until M parted with some corn for the squirrel and I parted with some pork rind for the crow. The rain hammered down as we sat under the trees feeding the wildlife – a perfect summer day.

The sky brightened as we headed back to Crouch End, immediately darkening again with rain as we got there.

I need a mudguard on my bike.

Quarantine – Week thirteen

Live Updates?

Monday 2020/6/08
Royal Society of Chemistry meeting via Zoom to kick the week off. Seemed to go well, but we did miss the catered lunch. For once I’m slightly ahead of my commitments to the group, so I just need to wait for my co-author’s draft to arrive and I can add in my content.
No sign of my bike parts yet, so I’ll travel to M’s via Overground – it seems to be empty. Mask up!

Walked to Barking station, I’d estimate about 1/3 of the people I saw on the way had a mask on, or a scarf covering their lower faces. The overground train had just been cleaned as I boarded it. I got a seat right in a corder and had a third of a carriage to myself all the way to Crouch Hill. Almost everyone I could see on the train had a mask on.

The walk from Crouch Hill to Hornsey was different, I past over a hundred people (I stopped counting at 100) and saw only 19 masks, 6 including myself on men.

Return journey I saw no masks on the way back to the station, barely any on the Overground and only a few when back in Dagenham.

Tuesday 2020/6/09
Woken at 3:30 am by the neighbour’s dogs barking. Got back to sleep soon after. Just back from a quick visit to the shops for supplies. Now, email.
Completely screwed up cooking dinner, the grill was on instead of the oven, so the outside of things was perfect while the inside was still semi-frozen. Into the microwave with it all to finish it off. Recorded the practical segments of the next Lockdown Conservation Science video.

Wednesday 2020/6/10
I seem to wake up 3:30 – 4am by default the days, from then I’m usually napping until I give up and get up. Today will be video editing and running a practise viva for a student.
Viva practise was plagued by tech issues, but we got there in the end, hopefully it as useful. Later call with head of dept confirmed what I already knew, labs will reopen on July 2nd and there is a hiring freeze, so no prospect for a job change before Jan 2021. My bike parts ordered last week have gone astray.

Thursday 2020/6/11
Missed an Australian seminar because I forgot to set an alarm to wake up in time.
The dog is much happier when not going for a walk in the rain.

Managed to trip the electricity off with a water spill, this necessitated pulling out a cupboard to get to the damp plug and dealing with all the fluff and dust that accumulates in places that get hoovered about one per year due to inaccessibility. Will see if the RCD will reset in the morning.

Friday 2020/6/12
My iTelescope images should be in today. The nights are too short and the sky is too bright anyway at this time of year to do much deep sky astronomy from the garden, so I have invested in a remote telescope subscription (iTelescope) and will use much nicer kit than I can afford in places with much much darker skies than I’ll ever manage to get my astronomy fix. The first two images should be just simple 5min exposures (black and white) of the Ring Nebula (captured by myself a couple of weeks back, and featuring in one of these quarantine posts) , the send image should be of the Galaxy Centaurus A – a very impressive galaxy only really visible from the southern hemisphere.

Saturday 2020/6/13
The images from Friday were a little under-whelming, clouds form even in Australia. iTelescope has an automatic refund system, which is hand – I managed to get a full refund for the first two images and I shall try again.
Cycled to Halfords at Chadwell Heath to get the parts I need for the bike, after deliveries failed to materialise. There was a small queue to enter and the guy on the door was directing people to specific parts of the shop based on what they needed. I intended to get a front fork extender, but was dissuaded by the sales person who claimed they are dangerous – he wasn’t trying to up-sell me anything instead, so I purchased a helmet and new bike lock and left to have a re-think. My back brake failed on the way home which made the journey that much more exciting.
Ordered a better specc’ed extender later in the afternoon.
Fixed a large bug in some code just after midnight.

Sunday 2020/6/14

Well, I kept up the pseudo-live updating for 5 days. Not too bad.
I seem to have spent most of today taking the dog for walks.

Quarantine – Week twelve

History in real-time.

Monday 2020/6/01

I’ve been in my current job 11 years today. I’ve mostly worked on the REF case study today.
Spent the day blocking adverts on Twitter and processed images of the moon taken a few days ago. Probably the last of the astro images for a while, as the nights are too short and too bright to do any useful imaging.

The Moon on May 29th 2020
The Moon on May 29th 2020

Tuesday 2020/6/02
Discussions about REF document. Mentor session with student and plans to set up a mock viva for her next week. Long evening chat with CCFS staff about upcoming year.

Wednesday 2020/6/03
This day occurred, lots of news happened (and has been happening for  couple of weeks)  I’m not the right person to write about it. It doesn’t help I’m writing these posts days later.

Thursday 2020/6/04
Took the dog for a long walk over the park. Managed to find part of the path of a stream I’m semi-convinced flows under the park. Will do some more research on this when I can access the library again.

While out, twitter blew up, I’d RT a female engineer & academic who had tweeted about fixing her TV volume. I thought it a neat hack. She got a bit of a pile on from some followers of mine who can’t read and proceeded to tell her how to do analog electronics – she teaches it at university level FFS! Apologised for the idiots attracted by the RT and blocked the worst of them.

Friday 2020/6/05
Today really felt like a Saturday.
Went for a run, my lungs were on fire. It’s depressing how quickly you lose lung capacity if you don’t exercise for a while. Had a three hour Teams chat with Jason and Marion in the evening.

Saturday 2020/6/06
Did some of the work I should have done yesterday. Went out for some groceries, social distancing and masks seem to be holding in the co-op.
Spent rather a lot of the day working out how to migrate this site away from WordPress. I decided on WordPress 16 years ago when I started this website up – the plan was to use that while I worked on Amorphia – my own CMS. Amorphia never really went anywhere and WordPress stayed installed. I think I’m closer to being able to ditch it now, but I’m not entirely there yet.

Sunday 2020/6/07
Slept late. Went for a shorter run, lungs easier; lots of standing water in the park where I think the stream runs – more evidence for it I think. I did some engineering on the bike pedals to take off some of the spikes for safety. Finished off the script for the next conservation video.

Quarantine – Week eleven

The ongoing train wreck just ploughed through the burning orphanage and is headed for the oil refinery.

Monday 2020/5/25
Speculation is rife that Dominic Cummings will resign / not resign. He’s giving a speech from the garden of Number 10 later. Most irregular.
Later : We’re fucked. People will now do just what they want.

Imaged the Ring Nebula. Was surprised how bright it is, visible in even a 30sec exposure

The Ring Nebula. the remains of a star they died around 5000 years ago.
The Ring Nebula. the remains of a star they died around 5000 years ago.

Tuesday 2020/5/26
Did some experiments with some simple wireless sensor networks

Wednesday 2020/5/27
More wireless network experiments. Discovered after several hours of debugging that I only has transmitters on the network, nothing was set as a receiver, so the network never formed. Everything was just shouting into the void. I know the feeling.

Thursday 2020/5/28

Friday 2020/5/29
Happy Oak Apple Day.

Saturday 2020/5/30
Finished a three-night imaging session on the Bubble Nebula. Time to find a new target.
The government still hasn’t fallen.

My uncle Richard died. Complications of heart surgery.

NGC6735, The Bubble Nebula
NGC6735, The Bubble Nebula

Sunday 2020/5/31
Fixed my long neglected bike.  Took it for a ride, about three miles, a lap of the park and some surrounding streets. It needs a new seat and also a handlebar extension.