Longest ride I have ever done, covering 5,501 miles in ten days. Our MEWS groups called this the "Eat, Sleep, Ride" trip and that was pretty much exactly what it was. If you have read my past ride logs, you might be expecting a lot of commentary and photos. This trip however had us on the bike really for the vast majority of the day and I think my best footage is coming from my GoPro. My suggestion, watch the video linked above if you want to get the best story of this trip.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose everything.
This was a pretty heavy book. I am going to put that right out front with this review. If you are in the midst of mid-2020 and everything around you is depressing and stressful, then this may not be the most ideal book for you to pickup right now.
I am going to have a tough time trying to review this, as it is extremely difficult to try and explain this book without giving it away. Think of it this way. A story has a beginning, a middle and an end. That narrative timeline is progressing through this book, front to back. All the while the characters, their relationship and even the time/place that the story is occurring in change with each section of the narrative. The crux of the narrative is about the relationship between Adrian and Anton. Who those two are though is never the same. Sometimes they are siblings, other times lovers? Sometimes their gender changes, other times the time and place that they are living in changes.
Through it all though it is about their relationship as the world around them is metaphorically and physically destroyed.
This book embodies what I really enjoy most about SciFi novels. It challenges the reader. It challenges the reader on multiple levels about their beliefs, about how they view the world, perhaps even in this case what they think a narrative format should be.
I have a few minor gripes about some of the writing. Often times the vignettes were not always clear. There is one for example midway through the book were our main characters are part of a religious order, wearing white and tending to a flame. I had no idea the context or time of this society. Was it modern? In the near future? Somewhere in the past? That issue came up several times for me.
The book in the end will most likely not leave you satisfied. You do not get a good explanation of everything that occurred or an understanding of what from the story was "real" and what was manifested from the story being told. I think that was the point, but it does leave wanting a few final sentences to tie it all up.
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My rating: 2 of 5 stars
This book started off pretty strong for me, but stumbled about halfway through and never fully recovered. I really enjoyed the hard science aspect of the book. There is a lot of discussion regarding physics and math here. Unfortunately, some of the story elements broke my immersion. There were several points in the story where narrative beats came across as too convenient.
A scene about halfway in that takes place in a cafe seemed like we had one of our characters jump from outsider to right in the inner circle way too quickly. Several scenes with the trisolarans also seemed a bit rushed, and sometimes even unnecessary. At one point the book spent lengthy amount of time discussing a human computer inside the "Three-Body" game, but that didn't really seem to have a direct impact on the story. And again, another scene having to deal with a large ship in the book too conveniently utilized a nano-carbon fiber that one of our protagonists just happened to be a specialist in?
In the end, it just never came together for me. The most interesting aspects took place in the 1960's at Red Base, and I would have loved to see more happen there, but it just never developed fully.
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This is a quick post, but something that popped into my mind this past Thursday when one of my favorite shows came back onto the air after being on hiatus from the COVID-19 situation. Critical Role, finally came back to its regular Thursday night schedule and I can't tell you how much I have been looking forward to seeing it come back.
I have always been impressed with the Critical Role cast and team on how much positivity they put out in everything they do. They just show a tremendous love for their online community and to all of their fans and it suddenly struck me as to how important that is right now. Not just in finding your friends and family and all of that, but finding positivity in your online media.
It just feels good to be a part of that world and share it in some small fashion.
While I am at it, I want to give a shoutout to the Peloton brand and that community as well. Another entity that has developed a super positive and uplifting message for its entire and team. Of course exercise always makes you feel better when you are stressed, but I have found that Peloton has really made it a part of their core identity to incorporate all of its users as part of a family that is sharing a journey together. Their entire staff have an extremely positive and almost therapeutic attitude in what they talk about during their classes.
It is only just now that I am realizing how much those things probably have really helped over the past four months.
I have discovered a really incredible game this past week on Xbox Gamepass called Night Call. It is sort of like a illustrated narrative game, where you play a taxi driver who is driving a night shift through Paris. Each night you pick up passengers in your taxi and listen to their story and ask them questions. Occasionally, you will have to spent time and money investigating clues related to a serial killer who is loose in the city and whom you had run in with at the start of the game.
The game is mostly black and white with hints of color placed throughout the game. Definitely a "Noir" design, the city appears to be cold, dark and always raining. It is such an interesting game and a huge change of pace to many other games I have played right now. There is no combat in the game, nor is there really even any conflict. It really is just a story playing out with your investigation and which you make choices in those conversations. I wouldn't call it a light game though. The mood and dialog is very dark and intense. The elements in the game deal with very adult themes as well.
If you can, definitely check this game out. It is not like anything I have played before.
It was time for some new riding gear. Most of my equipment is getting pretty old at this point, going on 8+ years, so the wear and tear is beginning to show on some of it. I have primarily two sets of riding gear at the moment, a leather jacket and pants, and then some nylon riding gear that I have been using for my longer tours.
The leather gear is still in remarkably good shape, but the Olympia Airglide jacket and pants have come to the end of their road I think. The velcro straps on most of it are starting to lose their grip, the front right pants pocket has a hole in it and it is just starting to look a bit grundgy overall.
I have spent quite a lot of time recently trying to find the right gear that I wanted to replace it with. I have looked at probably a dozen different jackets and pants, including some full riding suits. In the end I finally decided to settle on the Rev'it Cayenne Pro jacket and pants.
This set is a hot weather tour riding set. It does not come with a thermal liner or a waterproof layer, and that is intentional on Rev'its part for the user to bring their own to additional gear or build it up. They call it a modular system and they do offer a number of other layers that can be added. While doing my research, this did trouble me a bit. I was looking closely at the Rev'It Sand jacket and pants as an alternative here. That set is probably one of the best selling jacket and pant sets out there and comes with a thermal and waterproof liner.
After taking a close look at my riding environment though I had to admit that I ride mostly in warm weather. Probably 95% of my riding is in warm weather, no let me change that, 95% of my riding is in hot weather. I decided that going with the specialized setup rather than the "jack of all trades" would be the better route this time around. I already own heated thermal linings which I can add if I need to, and I have been pretty disappointed in the built in rain layer on my other equipment.
I finally had the chance to put about 200 miles on the suit this weekend, so let's review my initial thoughts.
I was having a conversation over on Facebook the other day of my five most sought after motorcycles right now. It occurred to me that I made a Top 10 list back in 2013, and thought to myself, "Let's do this again". 2013 is nearly seven years ago now. So here is my current, Top 10 Motorcycles I want right now.
- Royal Enfield Himalayan
- Honda Cub C125
- Yamaha TW200
- Suzuki Katana
- BMW C650
- Zero SR/S
- BMW R 9T
- Ural Gear Up
Quite a change in the list from my last one, and this is perhaps very reflective of the type of bike I am riding right now. When I posted the last list in 2013 only had my R 1200R for less than a year. The bikes listed then were very similar in size and type in a lot of ways. I am now riding a R 1250RT, which I bought last August. That is a big bike, so it is no wonder then that some of my top list is small bikes.
Number one on my list right now is the Royal Enfield Himalayan. That bike has just infatuated me for the past couple of years. It looks like a ton of fun and everyone I have talked to has a ton of fun on it. I am also completely enamored with Itchy Boots, who is currently touring from South America to Alaska on one.
The Honda CT125 is another one of those bikes that just completely captures my attention. You might not even call it a motorcycle by the way it looks, and it is only 125cc, but it has a 4 speed manual transmission on it, and something about it's design just really is appealing to me. Seems like such a fun little bike to hop on to go to the store.
The other big standout on the list above for me is the Suzuki Katana. I have never considered myself a sports bike person, but the almost retro design of the Katana grabs my attention.
So, you may have noticed too that my list doesn't have ten bikes on it. Yeah, I have to say that I don't see ten bikes out there that really catch my eyes at this point. My RT sorta covers all grounds with the exception of some off-road fun and perhaps something just lighter for zipping around town on.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have a very mixed relationship with the Witcher properties. I love the world and the characters in this series. I can't say I am a huge fan of the video games. I loved The Last Wish, and I fell in love with the Netflix series, so coming into this book I had pretty high expectations, knowing that I just sort of finished up the Netflix show.
Now, don't get me wrong. This is a fine book within the Witcher series, but it doesn't exactly come across as the type of book that is #1 in the series and would hook a new reader in. If you are already a fan, then this kicks off right where you want it to. My major issues are that not a lot seems to really happen narratively. The main crux of what I presume we are shown is mostly what Ciri has been up to since she finally found Geralt and was taken in by the Witchers. Having read the Last Wish, seen the Netflix show and then jumped into this book in that order, the three properties all worked well together. The Netflix show's first season sort of ended right where this book apparently would pickup. Perhaps in fact, that is where season 2 of the show will go. As a standalone book however, I can see a lot of readers quickly falling off the series right after this.
I just hope that we get to see more of the actual plot line develop in the second book, because we basically only caught vertical slices of Ciri with Geralt, and Ciri with Yennifer to show some of her training and development.
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Quarantine time has led to me being able to play some video games and catch up on a bit of my backlog. This past week I finally had a chance to get back into Gears 5 and finish off the single player. I have never been a huge Gears fan. I played both 1 & 2 and finished neither of them. They felt a bit too "dude bro" for my tastes. This past fall I decided to give Gears 4 a shot, as it was on Xbox Gamepass and I had a pretty decent time with it. The gameplay seemed fine enough and it wasn't too long, so I played through the story and was at least engaged with it to give Gears 5 a shot.
I started playing Gears 5 when it was released this past winter, but only got about three hours into it before I fell off. Oddly enough, I did put quite a bit of time into the multi-player. game, namely the Horde mode. It has a nice, mindless element too it, but I didn't realize right away the the 50 rounds of horde mode can take upwards of almost two hours. That is quite a commitment to one game with teammates.
I jumped back into Gears last week to see if it would hook me again, and I have to say that I enjoyed it about as much as I did with Gears 4. It was a fun romp, but it didn't really spark any passion for me. There was one really nice emotional moment that came near the end of the game, that was a bit of a surprise. So much so in fact that I actually played through that section, completed another hour or so of the game and then decided to go back and play that section over again to change my decision.
The ending of the game seemed fine, but it did give a nice sense of "hopelessness to the story that I wasn't expecting. Will I played Gears 6 to finish off this section part of the trilogy? Yeah, probably, but only because I am a Gamepass subscriber.