Book Review: The Three-Body Problem

The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
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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Finding Some Positivity in Your Online Communities (Critical Role and Peloton)


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. 

Videogaming: Night Call

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.

I Really Hate Sample Management

As most of you know, I have spent the past year changing out my music setup. I have finally put away my EMU Command Station and Korg EMX-1 into storage. I just haven't found any inspiration with them. In the meantime I have really tried to put some time into the Synthstrom Deluge. I have really had some mixed success get my head wrapped around it, but thhe battery powered portability of it is pretty cool. 

What I have found with the Synthstrom (and the Novation Circuit) is that I need to manage a sample library. I never really had to bother with this before with my previous groove boxes. The Command Station in particular has a really robust percussion library that I have used for years. 

I have found the whole sample management process in general to just be a tedious mess. I bought the superb Samples From Mars master pack that was on sale over Christmas. Having to pour through the samples though to organize them and then load them onto the Deluge is just a truly frustrating process, and it isn't the fault of the deluge. I just don't enjoy sitting in front of the computer for hours on end listening to samples. 

I'm going to try and hunker down this week though and just get through it. I think once I get the sample library setup properly on the Deluge, I an hopefully never need to touch it again.

Swing Tennis App for iPhone and Apple Watch is Amazing

I recently discovered an amazing app for the iPhone and my Apple Watch. It is called Swing Tennis and it will track all of your shots during a tennis match. It does this automatically, using the accelerometer to track the type of shot and spin you use. It is pretty amazing. 

You can input some specific information while you play a match, tracking the score and faults for serving very easily. There is some additional tracking such as unforced errors, etc. if you want to track it, but I have not felt that was necessary at this point. 

One of my favorite apps at the moment. 

Ridelog: 07-29-18


Playing some catch up on posting some summer rides. This was a solo ride up to Wisconsin. I was intending to test out a route and I definitely need to tweak it a bit. The ride up through Illinois around Johnsburg and Fox Lake was fully of stop and go traffic. Things didn't open up to an enjoyable ride until I actually got into Wisconsin, so it may make more sense to just slab it up to there and then enjoy the ride from there on out. 

Italy

Back in June and July Megan and I visited Italy for my brother's wedding. The trip was a two week adventure visiting Milan, Bergamo, Verona and Lake Maggiore. The idea was to vacation with our family the week prior to the wedding and then spend about a week in Lake Maggiore for the wedding itself. 

Book Review - Night's Master

Night's Master by Tanith Lee
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed what this book had to offer. Its format and overt sexuality might take some readers by surprise, but if you think of this as written like a book of mythology, it works perfectly well. The chapters in the book are each a stand alone story. Some of them build upon previous chapters with events or characters, but not all.

What we get here is a fantastic crafting of a world and all of its myth. The place setting was mostly in the dessert, almost an Arabic sort of description. It all game across as wonderfully exotic and mysterious. I really enjoyed this and definitely would read more.

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Book Review - Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating book. A look inside the first 100 days of the white house illustrated by chaotic, and sometimes combative events between opposing factions, all fueled by a President who is completely incapable of managing it all.

What surprised me the most from reading this book was how the various events that we have all seen play out in the news mostly derived not from maliciousness, but rather pure ineptitude. The who event played out continually like a "Parks and Recs" episode of stupid decision after stupid decision, often times made out of what appeared to be pure spite for another individual. This all led to the bewildered state for the reader that these people operating in the white house seem to have no idea or no care about the broader implications of their actions on the country as a whole. It is like a soap opera where they only care about their own personal standing and position with other people inside this weird close nit circle.

The books is well written, entertaining and paints at the very least, a fun story of what was happening in this white house. It is amazing, a year later, that names mentioned in the book, like Michael Cohen, are now making their way to the headlines in current news cycles.

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Ridelog: 2018-07-08


This was a nice ride from a couple of weeks ago. I think it was my first ride with MEWs this year. It was a big group, sixteen riders, which is usually way too many for me, but we had a great tide. Lunch was fun at the Crooked Roof in Lanark. We then rode to Lowden State Park to view the Blackhawk Statute. The guy is in a bit of rough shape. 


Good ride with a good group.