Friday, 23 May 2014


Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.

I'm hoping that it will be a good race.  Monaco is notorious for being difficult to overtake at, but it might also reduce the gap between Mercedes and the other teams so it could be a good race.  Or it could be quite processional.

The BBC only has highlights, but I'll listen on the radio too.

It's also a Bank Holiday weekend.  My only real plan for the day off is to do the final prep for Canada - I need to work out what I'm going to take and buy any last bits.

I'll also try to watch some of the backlog of stuff I've recorded so that there'll be enough space on my PVR for when I'm away.  I think I might need a new PVR - I've had this one a long time and it is quite full of stuff, but even bearing that in mind its behaviour is quite erratic.

It's also not HD and with the BT box having been a bust in terms of HD I think it's probably time I upgraded to a HD box.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

more minis

Chaika - The Coffin Princess

I tend to struggle with fantasy shows.

I don't really know why this is.  I mean, fundamentally, I'm a scientist, but having said that I've no real problem with science being bent to make cool stuff happen.  Though to paraphrase Arthur C Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic to the less advanced.

I guess it's like the Marvel v's DC question.  In Marvel comics there's a tendency to be Science Fiction (science bent to produce superheroes via mutants or gamma rays or what have you) and in DC there's a tendency to be fantasy ("alien comes to earth and just has super-powers because we say so", "here, have this this magic lamp/ring - it gives you powers").  And I always came down on the science side, rather than the fantasy side.

I guess I also find the repeated re-using of exactly the same things a bit tedious - orc, goblins, elves, paladins, blah, blah, yawns.

I've gone on quite a bit there, but the point is I wasn't expecting to like Chaika, but I've been pleasantly surprised.  It's actually moved up my ranking as later episodes have revealed more of a plot that seems quite interesting and it's hinted at explanations for some of the odder aspects.

In particular, I've found Chaika's staccato way of speaking quite annoying.  I'm guessing I'm supposed to find it cute, but it made little sense to me until we found out something that's probably a bit spoilery to say here, but suggests that there's a reason behind it.

Captain Earth

I want to like Captain Earth more than I do.

It's a giant mech series and is certainly a lot better than Dai Shogun.  The animation is by Bones, who seem to have a surprisingly high number of shows out this season for some reason, and is very nice.

I think the problem is the show can't quite seem to work out what it is.  There are elements that are quite like the old super-fun but super-dumb giant mech shows.  So for example, in order to pilot the mech (which looks eerily like a gundam), the hero has to launch into space on a rocket, which is sort of realistic, but then he passes through a whole series of "assembly stages" in orbit that add on various bits, that each "transform and combine" in a sudden switch to high-tech and cheesiness that's fun, but feels incongruous due to the mixing of real and absurd.

The show has lots of stuff like that, so there's a weirdly high level of fan-service, which is fine in and of itself, but it pops up randomly dispersed among really serious and downbeat scenes.  It makes the fan-service seemed tacked on (and tacky), but also makes the serious-ness seem po-faced.

And the seriousness seems like it's trying too hard to be like Eva, but the writing isn't quite strong enough to pull it off.  It also has lots of design elements that I don't know if they're meant to be tributes or copies or accidental.  For example, there's an overly sensitive half bad guy half good guy... with purple hair, red eyes and they've just given him a dark blue plug suit er I mean pilot's costume.  So it's Kaworu from Eva.

I dunno - it's all just a bit disappointing.


Haikyu is actually one of the shows I'd left initially and have since caught up on.

I'd actually been through the shows when I saw there were so many available on crunchyroll this season and had tried to prioritise the ones I thought I'd be more interested in.  As these mini reviews show, many have been quite disappointing (it's actually not been that great a season, in my overall opinion), but this and Baby Steps also show I got my guesses quite wrong.

Along with Baby Steps, this is a sports anime, which I increasingly seem to be a fan of for some reason.  In this case the sport in question is volleyball (the version played indoors on a court, rather than on a beach), which I can't honestly say I know a great deal about.

However, what makes this show is the characters - the main character is the "super genki" type.  He's actually a short-arse, and volleyball tends to favour tall players as the net is set quite high.

Quite a few of the characters fall broadly into types you've seen before - the sour-faced, arrogant, egotistical type, for example.  However, the thing that's been making the show is that it's really about breaking down those character traits.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

a little more... or less, as it were

I weighed in at 20 stone 8 pounds at the weekend, which is another 2 pound loss.

I was a bit surprised by this - it was an okay week, but nothing special.  I did hit my target for walking, but didn't really exceed it, and in terms of eating there were a few extra bits I ate that were a bit naughty.  I therefore figured I'd stay about the same, so a 2 pound loss is good.

I'm not really getting my hopes up, so at minimum if I can lose another pound and keep it off then I will still fit into all my new clothes for the holiday.  I guess if I was to get close to 20 stone that would be the "hopes up" version, but as I say I'm not really thinking that will actually happen.

I've also decided I will not do any walking in the week before we go - well, obviously other than to move about to places I need to be!  But I mean I won't go on any specific walks.  My intention is to try to rest my foot a bit.

However, and trying not to tempt fate, I've actually been doing okay with the foot.  I don't know if it's simply easing naturally or it's a coincidence, but I've been doing some stretching exercises recently and things got better after that.  The specific exercise that seems to have helped is actually one that stretches my Achilles tendon and back of my leg.  It involves leaning into a wall and stretching each leg.

The exercise is recommended on the NHS website, so it's not quackery and it's a stretch you see runner's doing.  The point they made is that the plantar fasciitis thing can actually be made worse because of tight Achilles tendons, which makes sense as it would obviously be making the plantar thing taught.

As I say, I don't want to count any unhatched chickens, and it's still not fixed in the sense that I still get discomfort, but it's not the horrible pain that made it difficult to walk I was having a couple of weeks ago.