Archive for Britain

a journal of the [experienced] plague and pestilence year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2022 by xi'an

Read The Cybernetic Tea Shop, by Meredith Katz, which is a short and rather clever (if YA) novel about the hazy boundary between humans and humanoids. Plus involving tea addicts! (Which is presumably why Amazon suggested it to me following my reading A Psalm for the Wide Built). And further read over a few sleepless nights the terrible Isandor series starting with City of Strife, by Claudie Arseneault, which had an interesting built of characters and fantasy universe, only to collapse into the usual cracks of super-evil villeins, a massive imbalance of power and a focus on the mundane (like foods and romantic attractions) when their society is under attack. The writing style is also heavily handed, to the point that I found myself skipping more and more paragraphs as the story unfolded. And will definitely not consider the incoming volume.

Went smoothly through my first (?) COVID positivity, which only caused a mild fever over one single day, amidst common cold symptom. Luckily did not pass it to anyone in my immediate vicinity, and resumed running if not swimming almost immediately (if not hard enough to train for the Argentan 1/2 marathon!). But sadly missed the 800th anniversary conference in Padova, as I was still testing positive the day before. I may have gotten infected in Britain or Belgium, despite my constant use of a mask (except in restaurants!).

Watched three more episodes of House of the Dragon, with great characters but a definitive lack of scope (when compared with Game of Thrones). The story remains at a highly local level of power fights and bickering, with existential threats inexistent. Still relatively enjoyable.

send off the clowns!

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 19, 2022 by xi'an

Ada L. at the ATI [6 October 2022]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2022 by xi'an

a journal of the plague year³ [beginning of the end?]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 29, 2022 by xi'an

Made my first trip to Warwick this year despite the travel restrictions imposed by the omnipresent Omicron version. My flights got repeatedly cancelled, meaning I had to fly through Schipol (thanks for the Gouda cumin cheese and stroopwafelen!) and leave at more-than-early hours (even by my standards!). But had more conversations than usual, plus delivered my lecture masked-face-to-masked-face to 19 Warwick students, the first time in 709 days!

Read [in French] the two BDs of Milo Manara on Michelangelo [Merisi or Amerighi da] Caravaggio, which was a Xmas gift!, with as always great in the large scale and character drawings, if not Caravaggio’s chiaroscuro, but less in the scenario, esp. the second part and even more esp. given the agitated life of the artist. And another BD taking place in Cayenne, in 1742, whose drawings also appear in local guides.

Watched 14 Peaks: Nothing is impossible on Netflix, following Nepalese mountaineer Nirmal Purja [of Everest jam fame!] and his team as they manage to climb all 14 eight thousander peaks over 6 months. Including Shishapangma in Tibet, with the added hardship to procure a climbing permit from Chinese authorities for that mountain. The documentary focuses a wee bit too much on Purja’s persona and not enough on the team of sherpas and on the climb itself. Except for the summitings there is very little about the technical difficulties of each summit and the hardships and failed attempts. For instance, the amazing feat of first installing fixed ropes for all 14 summits is only alluded to. Despite reservations about the use of supplementary oxygen (without which, as stressed by Messner, the attempt of climbing all 8000ers in one season would have proved truly impossible and suicidal) and heliporting from one base camp to another, the enormity of the achievement of this team of sherpas remains a monument in the climbing world. (Even only considering that Everest, Lhotse and Makalu were climbed in two days total!)

a journal of the plague year² [closing again]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2022 by xi'an

Had to cancel my third and final trip to Warwick this year as the Omicron scare had countries locking their borders (too late, most likely), meaning the UK was reinstating on entering travelers a self-seclusion period until the test results were known. Despite getting my third shot in time (with no side-effect whatsoever). And France retaliated in imposing PCR tests as well…

Read (over the Atlantic) an older novel of William Gibson, The Peripheral. Which is a rather standard cyberpunk Gibson with lots of (2021’s) brand names (at least at the beginning), a messy build-up of the (dual) universe, plenty of gadgets, a long-going form of fascination for super-lethal weapons and militarised survivalists, followed by a vague explanation of the temporal paradox of conversing with the future/past, and a rather lame closure with a shoot shoot bang bang resolution and some people getting absurdly rich… I am unsure I will get through the second novel, The Agency, which I bought at the same time, unless we manage to fly to French Guiana on Xmas day. Even though The Guardian is quite excited about it.

Watched Kan Eguchi’s The Fable after coming back from Mexico (not on the plane, when I slept most of the flight), which is cartoonesquely funny, except for lengthy fighting scenes. As it should, since directly inspired from a manga. While I missed the jokes about Osaka’s special dialect and food, it was absurdly funny! And fit for a particularly rainy weekend. The second installment, which I watched later, is darker and more disturbing…

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