Food, bits around the house, and snow! [Week 2] – #carocat2017

  • Frozen blueberries and soy yoghurt have become one of my favourite things recently. 8/365
  • This image doesn’t look like much, but that right there was that one in 20 perfect cups of coffee! 9/365
  • Not only did the update take almost two hours, but it brought with it ‘delightful’ changes to the taskbar and fontsizes. 10/365
  • It’s amazing that such few colours can create such a vivid scene. Always wondered where it could be. 11/365
  • I don’t have leftover wool – if not enough to knit something with it, then I usually repurpose, such as blind strings. 12/365
  • The last of the Christmas spekulatius biscuits. 13/365
  • Flurry of snowflakes – ended up being about 8cm on the ground. 14/365

I had a lot of stuff to do this week plus the weather wasn’t grand which I used as perfect excuses to not go out for walks much. Of course, I know that it affects me and that I am actually happier when I go out for long walks, but I still haven’t figured out how to consistently motivate myself!

I’ve also been told that the first image looks “like many small skinned lamb skulls with bulging eyes” which I personally can’t see as to me it’s blueberries, but I’m sorry for posting it yet again. :)

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Blog category: #carocat2017

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Birds, ducks, skies, and boats [Week 1] – #carocat2017

  • Stunning sunset on New Year’s day. 1/365
  • I got many problems, but a lack of books on my Kindle isn’t one of them! 2/365
  • More birds than The Birds plus a beached boat. Random discoveries! 3/365
  • The Tolkien and the Loth Lorien seen in Hamburg’s harbour city. Fitting for the day after JRR’s birthday! 4/365
  • Chasing the dusk across frozen fields. 5/365
  • One of the coolest postcards I’ve ever received – the sides fold up into a 3D frame! 6/365
  • Have you got your ducks in a row? Partially frozen stream leaves little space for them. #7/365

I take enough pictures, but I don’t ever really collect them. To be able to do this over a year and have the records of it is something I’ve always wanted to do so I’m yet again giving it another shot.

Twitter hashtag: #carocat2017
Blog category: #carocat2017

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Music I listened to in 2016

2016 over the months

2016 over the months

carocat-last-fm-listening-history

Listening history over the years

I didn’t listen to music for a lot of 2016 and it’s only towards the end that I really picked it up again. Last.fm recorded a conflicting number – on one screen it’s 1200 and another 1069, but it’s a huge difference to previous years.

In addition to that are probably about the same amount that I couldn’t have scrobbled as it doesn’t seem to work from my phone’s player.

Most of the music I listened to came from soundtracks:

  • Lord of the Rings
  • The Hobbit
  • Star Wars
  • Star Wars – The Force Awakens
  • Game of Thrones [never really listened much to it before]
  • Westworld [new]
  • Downton Abbey
  • Dragon Age

Other music included Norah Jones [didn’t realise she had released a new [to me] album!], the songs from the TV show Nashville [pretty much the only country music I have ever listened to as I hadn’t much come across the genre before] and random playlists.

A year ago I would have said my favourite soundtrack composer is a toss-up between Howard Shore and John Williams, however, Ramin Djawadi has joined them above Klaus Badelt and Alexandre Desplat. My favourite new songs this year all came from Game of Thrones or Westworld:

  • Light Of The Seven – the wonderful piano piece from the season 6 Game of Thrones finale.
  • Paint It, Black – Westworld.
  • Black Hole Sun – Westworld.
  • King Of The North – Game of Thrones.
  • My Watch Has Ended – Game of Thrones.

2017 promises more Game of Thrones music and another John Williams scored Star Wars release. Despite having listened to the Rogue One soundtrack a lot, I still can’t warm to it even though I like Giacchino’s music usually, such as Lost.

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Review: Star Wars – Episode II: Attack of the Clones audiobook

Just like the Star Wars – Episode I: The Phantom Menace, the book is done well with the audio effects and music and the voices and general content. Battles are described, but they’re not described in every single detail and they didn’t mess up any of the pronunciations this time!

The book greatly expands on the Lars family pre Shmi’s abduction and they’re incredibly boring. It also describes the gruesome ambush of the raiders during which almost all settlers died which goes to show why no one else went after them. I’d always questioned this in the films seeing it’s only a small settlement that Anakin destroys, but the Tuskens are incredibly crafty.

The book also expands and describes the Jango/Boba relationship which is quite loving and Boba finding the [inexplicably described as empty??] helmet was heartbreaking. He really adored his father. But also he’s yet another Star Wars wunderkind and has annoying tendencies like Anakin where they’re too self-confident.

Anakin and Padme’s relationship is elaborated on, particularly Anakin’s intensity and Padme feeling uncomfortable.

However, I didn’t quite enjoy it as much which probably is in part due to the actual plot itself. Personally, I’d have loved to see more of the senate and the politics rather than what we got. It felt artificially lengthened, as opposed to a director’s cut feel. I’m curious if there’ll be more of that in the third one, seeing there are filmed scenes around the senate which were ultimately cut. I’ve also realised just how little there is in actual content of the book/film! They pursue an assassin, Obi-Wan travels playing cop, Anakin and Padme become a couple, and there’s a fight in the end. It’s a bridge between two other films and needed for setup, but especially as a book it’s clear the story’s bare.

Random observations:

  • My favourite phrase [Around the survivors, a perimeter create] isn’t mentioned!
  • Some soundeffects are almost distasteful. During the pursuit of the Tuskens a lot of settlers are decapitated by strings across the speeder route and there’s a ‘splat’ sound.
  • Obi-Wan and Mace Windu are concerned about Anakin and Padme at the end, but don’t even discuss it!

3/5 – It’s perfectly good, but it’s nothing special.

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Hamburg HafenCity

Last week I went to Hamburg for a day and had an hour to spare during which I went to explore the HafenCity [harbour city], especially as the Elbphilharmonie – the new Hamburg concert hall – recently completed its build.

It was a very windy yet dry day with occasional bits of sunshine and was perfect to walk around there.

I really liked the mix of modern architecture and innovative flood protection coupled with some old boats next to offices and flats and the Elbphilharmonie which is huge! I knew it would be over a 100 metres high, but its imposing size was something else. It has its official opening this week and it’s already possible for visitors to get admission to the plaza which is the section underneath the metal top. I was planning to go up there, too, but the queue was several hundred people long and I didn’t have much time.

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December 2016 Fitbit data

hameln-weser-winterIn my November stats post I said:

For December I would like to have a minimum of 20 days at over 10k steps and also more than 5 15k steps days.

That didn’t happen. December was very disappointing.

foggy-path-to-nowhereThere are a few excuses I can come up with from a minor pulled muscle injury [heavy emphasis on the minor] to other health issues to weather to Christmas to whatever else, but it comes down to not pushing myself enough. I had seen such improvements during the previous couple of months that I allowed myself to rest on my laurels. I even remember the day I first stopped taking it seriously – Thursday the 1st of December. ‘Oh, I’ll just stop for a day’ and ‘I have lots of stuff to get on with’ and ‘One day won’t make a difference’.

Now I know that it shifted the way I was thinking about it and I know that I need to take this seriously and make an effort. If I want to get fit I need to dedicate the time to it and really treat it as something I want to do rather than just a way to get from A to B. I also need to make sure that I have audiobooks I actually want to listen to as I hit a bit of a snag with LotR The Two Towers and lost interest in that for the time being which is yet another excuse I wasn’t too eager to go for a walk, especially as I read a lot of books on my Kindle this month which is still my preferred format.

wehler-marshThat all being said, I did do two days of over 20k steps and I also managed to get up to 100km distance so it’s not all bad and I still managed something.

For January I’m aiming to beat November’s 145km and generally get back into a swing. Four days or more above 20k steps would be quite nice, too.

Totals: Month Daily average Month before
Steps: 149972 4838
Distance: 100.82 3.25
Total active mins 44544 1437 +
Minutes Lightly Active 40419 1304 +
Minutes Fairly Active 3543 114
Minutes Very Active 582 19
Avg steps per km 1488   +
Days exceeded 5k steps 10  
Days exceeded 10k steps 8  
Days exceeded 15k steps 3  
Days exceeded 20k steps 2   +
Days exceeded 25k steps 0   +
Days exceeded 7km 6  
Days exceeded 10km 3  
Days exceeded 15km 0  

Do you use Fitbit? Let’s be friends!

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Review: Any Means Necessary (Luke Stone #1) by Jack Mars

Barely starting into the second week of the year seems too early to declare something as a ‘book of the year’, but I have really enjoyed this book.

Free on Kindle UK, I didn’t think to expect too much despite the high star rating for it and the other books in the series, but I was hooked within the first two pages. In fact, I could have finished this book days ago, but instead chose to read it in small batches to drag it out until finally succumbing to it earlier and reading 65% in one go! Spoilers follow.

This book would be perfect for a mini-series or a film – if the political climate wasn’t what it is currently. Having Muslim terrorists – even if revealed to be paid by US sources and interests – doesn’t seem wise. The book doesn’t redefine nor reinvent a genre, but it does a fantastic job within the existing genres. It’s like 24, Homeland, Jack Reacher, a Baldacci, it borrows from them but doesn’t feel boring. It has more shocking revelations than I saw coming from actually killing the President to blowing up the White House to casually dropping the fact that the informant is the main character’s father!

Above all, the writing is solid and it’s funny! In between the moments of terror, such as killing almost all of the civilian government, I couldn’t help laughing out loud at some of the quips or descriptions or the sarcasm dripping through the dialogue. It also shies away from infodumps and there is only one instance regarding Presidential succession where it felt over the top, but it’s essential for a reader with no existing knowledge to know.

Some of my favourite quotes:

About the Vice President:

Her issues were breast cancer awareness (as if somehow people were not already aware of breast cancer).

About monitoring a foreign embassy:

“CIA has managed to plant more than two hundred listening devices in that building over the years. Eleven of them are still active.”

A scary image of technological capabilities:

It was a holdover from the days when drones could use the satellite uplink signal to lock on ground targets. In those days, a man with a satellite phone was holding a big red bull’s-eye. But now, it hardly mattered. The newest drones could lock on to cell phones, laptops, GPS units, almost anything.

During a helicopter chase/ambush:

“What are you going to do?” Luke smiled. “I’m the head cheerleader. Keep the intercom wide open and listen for my screams.”
“Hey, Luke,” Rachel shouted. “When I was leaving SOAR, my C.O. asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life. You know what I said? I told him I was gonna go work for the SRT. You know why? Because Luke Stone was there. All these years of flying choppers, and I never got the chance to die in one. I’m hoping Luke can fix that for me.”
“You’re my kind of girl,” Luke said.

The only issue I have with the book is its ending. I don’t mind the cliffhanger quite so much as I’m sure it’ll be resolved in the next one, but for a plan so meticulously planned for what I’m assuming to be years if not decades, I’m disappointed just how easily the Speaker was dispatched at the end. I was expecting there to be much more resistance though perhaps this is also something explored in the rest of the series.

5/5 – I can’t wait to read the other books in the series though will need to slow down in order to savour them. I like the new reality created here and am curious what will happen with the world being at brink of war.

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