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w/e 2023-02-26

This week I’ve mostly been playing in|FLUX by Anna B Savage which I’m enjoying as much as her previous album.

Part of me feels that it’s too… something for me. Too confessional? Too non-metaphorical? I’m not sure. But most of me ignores that itch and enjoys the music and finds it interesting.

§ Last autumn we repaired a leak in the smaller of our ponds (ooh, get him, Philip Two Ponds). The pond isn’t deep enough and hasn’t had much attention yet other than the repeated patient removal of dead leaves. It needs some plants (soon) and blanket weed has emerged, which I’m fishing out occasionally. But, big news: frogspawn! I haven’t previously seen any frogspawn in this or the bigger, better pond but today I saw two clumps nestled among the green. Stay tuned for further frog news.

§ You’ll be pleased that I have no long lists of Zwift problems this week. I did one ride, a 45 minute, 25km ride around some of an imaginary “Japanese-inspired” island. I couldn’t get my Watch to pair but otherwise it was technically fine, if quite boring.

I was going to do another today but there are precious few shortish (30 or maybe 45 minute) group rides for not-very-fast people. It feels very much for people who want to crush it up hills for 60+ minutes. I also wasn’t feeling a yearning for another ride through the shadowless 3D world of Zwift and its ugly on-screen graphics.

So, one google for alternatives later, I downloaded Rouvy, paired it to my TacX Flow smart trainer first time, and did the initial, brief training ride which seamlessly led on to an optional 10km ride with a slight hill in the middle, all of it through a “real” filmed landscape.

Given my experiences with Zwift this was amazingly smooth. And the backgrounds, videoed from a car (judging by a brief shadow on the road) that drove the routes, work really well. I imagined it might feel strangely artificial, somehow like the view outside the windows of a moving car in old movies. But the integration of the footage with (better than Zwift) 3D bike riders is well done and the scenery looks – and I mean this is a compliment – as good as well-rendered computer graphics.

I’m not sure if it’s more or less dystopian to be cycling on the spot through computer scenery or filmed scenery, but the computer-controlled cyclists that appear as a group, dressed in black shirts decorated with cascades of zeros and ones, are perhaps a touch too on-the-nose Matrix.

Rouvy’s general design is much nicer than Zwift’s ugly graphics and the small text isn’t quite as tiny as Zwift’s. It also has a lot of detailed and nicely-designed charts and stats to pore over after each ride. The few downsides I’ve noticed so far:

  • No linking with the Apple Watch (but I can just manually start an Indoor Cycling Workout)
  • A lot of links in the app link out to the website. And lots of links in the website open new browser tabs/windows. So it’s easy to end up with loads of Rouvy tabs.
  • I imagine there are fewer cyclists using it to ride with/against but given all the other benefits, I’m fine with that.

§ A photo looking over a hill of grass, past the silhouettes of some trees, to a valley full of fog. The sun is rising behind a hill in the distance, rays of light shining through the trees' branches.
Sunrise over Grey Valley, near us, on Tuesday morning

§ Computery things done this week:

  • Decided to let the domain expire, so I moved the not-updated-in-ten-years website to and redirected the old site to it.
  • Added nearly 100 more of Mum’s old photos of Witham to her website. Then removed them and added them again when we realised I’d added the wrong versions.
  • Tweaked to link to the original article when encountering an “interactive” that can’t be rendered without lots of custom Guardian JavaScript trickery. A shame – I’d like to be able to include their maps and charts within the articles, or at least link directly to them, but it seems impossible.
  • Finished this round of tweaking the code that fetches RSS feeds for to better cope with the numerous kinds of errors it encounters. It’s now a bit easier for me to see what’s broken, how broken it might be, and how long it’s been broken for. What to do about it is another problem entirely.
  • Added 63 more blogs to There are a lot of mathematicians blogging out there.

§ We went to see The Banshees of Inisherin (Martin McDonagh, 2022) today which was… I guess it’s good but I’m not sure I enjoyed most of it. Perhaps I was in the wrong mood and keen for something funny or uplifting. It has a few small laughs but it’s mostly dull, obstinate men being annoying and I wondered why we were watching them rather than the one interesting and hopeful character, Siobhán.

§ We watched We Own This City this week which was ImportantTM but depressing and too long. On the plus side, good performances and while I knew US cops could be bad it was eye-opening to see how bad they could be for so long and how and why they were enabled by superiors.

But I’m not sure there was enough story there for six hour-long episodes and it had a bad case of flashbackitis, the entire thing jumping back and forth around the timeline, as if to make it seem more complex. Consequently I have a less clear idea of what happened when than if it stuck to only one or two clear timelines. Which seems a shame for something that’s obviously supposed to tell an Important Real Life Story.

§ We also watched the first two episodes of Euphoria which was good but oh god why is everything so relentlessly grim? I like a lot about the show so far but I don’t think we can face another 16 hours of these people being awful to each other in graphic ways. It’d be bearable if there was more light – humour, charm – among the clouds occasionally.

Tips for dramas we might not have seen which have some fun, upbeat and uplifting elements will be gratefully received.

§ Yours grimly, etc.

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