Wulf's Webden

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Thursday 14 September 2017
by Wulf
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Hounds of the Underworld

Book cover

Hounds of the Underworld

Hounds of the Underworld, by Dan Rabarts and Lee Murray, starts at a crime scene although one at which the expected body is strangely absent. It is set in New Zealand of the 2040s, although the characteristics of this imagined time and place are allowed to seep in by immersion rather than being clumsily narrated. As well as having two authors, the book has two protagonists, Penny (or Pandora) and her adoptive brother Matiu. Although Matiu, with a troubled past and working as a driver including ferrying Penny around, is the first point of focus, it is Penny, a brilliant but rather insecure freelance forensic scientist, who seems to be the primary character of the story. And yet, as events unfold and paranormal events occur, it seems a lot is going to hinge on Matiu.

I found the story gripping to read. Investigation, action, sci-fi and a dash of unspeakable horrors! My only complaint is that, although the mystery of the first scene is at least partly explained by the end, it is clearly only the first part of a larger piece. To be fair, the same could be said of The Lord of the Rings but I’m going to have to wait impatiently to find out where things go in The Path of Ra Book 2.

Wednesday 13 September 2017
by Wulf
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Herald

A few weeks ago, Jane spotted a chrysalis wrapped in a couple of leaves on our myrtle (Myrtus communis) bush. She picked it off and kept it in a ventilated tub to see what it would turn out to be. The answer is, one of these:

Orange moth

Herald

It is a Herald (Scoliopteryx libatrix), apparently a common moth although I don’t remember seeing one before. I did a quick photo session before we released it back to a sheltered branch on the plant where it was found. Lighting was a challenge – I ended up using some tissue over the camera flash and I’ve also done some post processing with The GIMP (it wasn’t quite this vividly orange!) to bring out the detail. I am including it in my 52photos project.

Tuesday 12 September 2017
by Wulf
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Sats and Suns

Preparing for a short break coming up, I discovered that there can be quite a price differential between Saturday night and Sunday night prices when booking accommodation… and that Saturday nights are a lot more popular. I think I’ve got the last major pieces of the itinerary sorted out at last though. Phew!

Monday 11 September 2017
by Wulf
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Gushing

I’m moderately pleased with the Ruby Saison brew I bottled up back in July but it does have a flaw in the shape of its overenthusiastic carbonation. I imagine the yeast wasn’t quite as spent as I had imagined and, with the addition of some carbonation sugar, it now wants to gush out when I open the bottles which stirs up the sediment at the bottom. What I have to do is release the gas as slowly as I can but, even taking twenty minutes to crack open a bottle, I still haven’t managed to serve it up quite as clear as it appears to be before I start releasing the crown cork.

I think I will try another batch of this soon but I might give it a little longer to fully settle and also attempt to exclude as much sediment as possible while bottling.

Sunday 10 September 2017
by Wulf
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65 / 62

Driving home from Devon today, I decided to stick the limiter on at 65mph for most of the motorway stretch. That worked out very nicely. Not too much overtaking to do and I got the average MPG up to just over 62.

Even if it were possible to travel at your chosen speed all the way, it wouldn’t add too much to the journey time compared to 70mph. I’ve got another longish drive coming up soon so I’m tempted to see if I can reach 63 MPG at 63mph.

Thursday 7 September 2017
by Wulf
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Almost Cruising

Our new Fabia doesn’t have cruise control but I am enjoying the similar functionality of the speed limiter. You can set this to your desired speed and then can’t exceed this except by flooring the accelerator or travelling down a steep enough hill to accelerate the car by gravity-assist (in which case an alarm will sound).

I have been finding this a boon as you can give much less attention to not going to fast, freeing it up for the important tasks of paying attention to what is happening on the road (including those all-important speed limit change signs). Because it limits rather than fixes the speed, you can drop down if the traffic ahead slows and, if it slows too much, the set speed is probably going to be enough to overtake safely if it is otherwise safe to do so.

With that tool in hand, the next things to test are whether driving slower than the speed limit on motorways gives a noticeable gain in fuel economy (theoretically ┬ásticking to a limit of 60mph should work better although traffic flow will probably also affect this) and seeing how much longer this causes journeys to take (they should be slower but it depends on average speed across the journey – no point speeding up to reach the traffic queue where you have to slow down more drastically).