July 22nd, 2007


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Today, we wanted to go out for a caching-walk. We selected a multi of 6km and went on our way. But somewhere between the first and the second waypoint, not even a kilometer in, it started to rain. Hard.

Within three minutes, we were soaked -- even though we were wearing our emergency rain gear.

I wanted to go back, because there was no chance of drying up, and I didn't want to slog through the woods in wet clothing. On our way back, we played a bit in/with a puddle (good fun -- I guess digging little waterways with your heels to drain a puddle is a very Dutch thing to do), and then got rained upon again.

Back home, we baked cookies, which made the afternoon worthwhile after all.
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Finished series: Soukou no Strain

We've finished watching Soukou no Strain. My first episode review is here.

In the future, there is a space war going on. Sara's brother Ralph leaves for the war, and she is determined to see him once again. They're both from a family of warriors, so she had a Mimic made at birth -- some sort of neural interface made from cloned embryonic stem cells. This enables her to enlist as a Strain pilot. Strain are the ultra-manoeverable mecha used by the Union.

During the first episode, the training academy is attacked by the semi-autonomous battle pods used by the Deague, called TUMOR. The trainees are easily defeated, and Sara sees her brother again: he has turned traitor! He escapes with a girl he takes from a military research installation close to the academy, and then damages Sara's Strain so badly her Mimic is broken.

Sara becomes even more determined to meet her brother again. She assumes a different name (her family name, Werec, has been sullied by Ralph's treason), and enlists as a space marine. The marines pilot their mecha, Gambees, manually, and therefore don't need Mimics. But the Gambees can't fly at sub-light speeds, and have limited manoeverability.
Sara has a tough time because of her single-minded determination, which her teammates interpret as haughtyness. She is the butt of a few pranks, but she takes it all in stride -- which isolates her even further from her teammates.

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The awfulness of war is depicted pretty blandly. People die all the time, sometimes for completely senseless reasons, like being in the way when a bullet misses. Supporting characters get killed off, because shit like that just happens in a war.
I'm not so sure about the physics of sub-light travel. For instance, the Gambee pilots are instructed to never shoot forward when at sub-light speed. That makes sense: your bullets will only hit yourself. But shooting to the sides or backwards is OK -- but how could you see your target when it is catching up to you (therefore goign at light speed), and you are looking backwards? When you can see your target, it's already upon you! It's a pity that the physics of sub-light speed travel is a plot-point, and some things make sense, but not everything.

The artwork is very good. The character designs are attractive (though not overly moe), the animation is fluid. The CGI of the mecha and spaceships is gorgeous -- the space battles are a feast for the eyes. The music is decent as well.

It's a bit of a mix of Spaceship Operators and something like Macross. A very, very interesting plot that is very well executed. At only 13 episodes long, it is amazing how much the writers have been able to cram into the series.

Good points:
- Beautiful CGI;
- Very interesting plot.
Bad points:
- Not every character is likable;
- Wonky sub-light physics.

All in all, highly recommended if you like sci-fi and/or mecha at all. An 8.

The case of the missing tea pot

When we returned from our vacation, last Monday, I found out that my teapot was missing.

You all know that I am quite a tea snob. If I have the choice, I don't drink the usual bagged tea -- I prefer loose-leaf Keemun. At work, I have my own private tea stash, and a teapot to brew it in. A Bodum tea press pot -- not cheap, but worth every cent.

Before we went on vacation, I cleaned the pot, rinsed it thoroughly, and put it in a kitchen cabinet, next to the wine bottles. In other words, out of the way.
It turns out that, as part of the internal building and moving operation, the cabinets were all cleared/cleaned, and lots of stuff was thrown away. At first I thought I hadn't looked good enough, but in the end, the conclusion was that someone had thrown out a perfectly good tea pot.

Needless to say, I was a tiny bit dissapointed. The person in charge of the kitchen felt pretty bad about it, even though she isn't to blame.

It was agreed that I would buy a new teapot, and get the money back. I warned them that my taste in teapots is as eccentric as my taste in tea, but I was told to buy the thing I wanted and I would simply get my money back. Who am I to disagree?

So yesterday I bought a Shin Cha teapot. Basically, the same pot, but this time with a metal sieve to hold the tea. Easier to clean, and it won't deform like the plastic tea sieves do. I wonder what they will say when they see the price tag of more than 40 euros...
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