Considering Phlebas

Turning the wheel and looking to windward
Turning the wheel and looking to windward

I went sailing for the first time in 30-something years. Many thanks to Alan for hosting me and trusting me with the wheel of his pride and joy. From Thorpe le Soken to Felixstowe and back again.

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward,
Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.

Back to the lab.

I’ve spent twenty weeks away from the lab, one and a half of those with a creeping infection trying to eat my right arm off at the elbow and a further four of those some form of holiday (except for the four days spent working over those four weeks).

I’ve taken to cycling to work, which takes me down the A13 to Beckton, and then on to the Greenway to Stratford. I’m really rather pleased by the cycle routes available now, definitely improved since I last used to cycle that way about twenty years ago. I’ve only nearly been hit by a white van once.

Cycling to work obviously presents me with a chance to gather data, so data gathering I’ve been doing. I’m using google fit and runkeeper on my phone to log the journey and they both agree it takes between 45 and 50 minutes door to door. I’ve have a better idea when I’ve collected more than a week of riding.  The same journey on the Tube would take 45 minutes on a good day and closer to an hour typically. The one thing I’m really missing is the time to read on the train – it’s hard to multitask on a bike.

Only a single Astrophoto worth sharing this week. Five hours integrated exposure on NGC6888  – The Crescent Nebula. This is a work in progress project.

It’s what happens when a star sheds a load of gas into the surrounding neighbourhood, then sometime later starts blasting out a ferocious stellar wind, which catches up with the earlier shed gas and ploughs into it with enough energy to make it glow in visible light and X-rays.
NGC6888 - The Crescent Nebula

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 sixteen

A week that happened.

Monday 2020/06/29
Mostly spent the day on work related stuff including finishing off an application for a new job. Fingers crossed. It’s surprising how quickly a job can squander goodwill built up over many years.
Recorded virtual posters for the Bone Research Society conference.

Tuesday 2020/06/30
Spent my first night away from home in 15 weeks.

Wednesday 2020/07/01
Had a play with a new time-lapse camera. Just recorded a snail whizzing around.
Worked on the image viewer re-write. It’s getting there.

Thursday 2020/07/02
Waited in all day for a work meeting that I was not invited to.
Had another meeting where my plans for tomorrow (Friday) were shot down because they were inconvenient. Thought to myself “fuck this” and booked the rest of July off work.

Friday 2020/07/03
Worked on the image viewer and did some admin.
I had panned to walk the dog a lot more this week or get out on my bike, but the weather was crap for the most part and I just had the Hump.

Saturday 2020/07/04
The pubs are reopening. Not good.
The pubs around Crouch End seemed to not be enforcing distancing and there were noisy fights in the street and accompanying police sirens at closing time.

Sunday 2020/07/05
Beam at Crouch End are taking distancing seriously, we had breakfast there, outside in the warm sunshine. We had to scan QR codes as we sat down to record our visit for track and trace purposes. My favourite item is now off the menu. Bah. Headed some after a bike ride to check M’s bike out – seems so far that we have fixed it.

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

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.