Northern Star

I’ve loved the Philip Pullman books for a very long time, and The Golden Compass, despite all it’s flaws and shortcomings, did a better job of introducing Alternate Oxford than the BBC version managed last night. However, in everything else, the BBC/HBO series is light years ahead of anything I suspect could or would have been considered possible a decade ago.

These books have always been subversive and courted controversy, that’s what made them so very compelling. Alternate worlds, ruled by evil men, where normal people are used as pawns and cyphers. So what if your soul has an animal form? Those feelings and beliefs manifest regardless, and in the world of Lyra Belacqua it is the importance of innocence before corruption that makes the narrative so very seductive.

In that regard, last night, the pre-credits sequence mattered a very great deal.

The time and care that’s been taken to get this adaptation right is apparent in every single scene, particularly when we are introduced to the Gyptians for the first time. The pace and plotting of the episode is tight and cleverly ties together the abduction of Lyra’s only friend Roger with the growing crisis of missing Gyptian children. No, Gobblers aren’t just a children’s story in this world. Evil lives in plain sight.

What sold me in this first episode, without doubt, was the first time we see the Magisterium in London, which if it wasn’t imposing enough from the outside… well, within shows a truth that screams totalitarian regime. Men love to build massive monuments to their own perceived superiority, after all; we can tell immediately who is good and bad. Casting and adaptation really are both spot on.

I didn’t notice CGI at all in any of this, for the record. That’s how good it was.

Knowing how this story ends however is no issue: in fact, that only further increases my anticipation of what I know is already coming: Book Two’s being worked on. If this kind of narrative is being considered for TV adaptation, it gives me hope that other complex ideas like Iain Banks’ The Bridge or his Culture series might yet be considered for an airing. If something as massive as The Expanse series is worthy of airtime… who knows.

I also suspect I’ll see the BBC’s much-anticipated adaptation of The War of the Worlds soon in the 9pm Sunday spot and when that happens… I’m gonna need a comfier spot than the floor in which to watch TV back to back. There’ll probably be a second watch of the first episode on the iPlayer this week, because I need to learn how to make animated GIFs and, to be honest, His Dark Materials is a fantastic place to start.

Work That Body

Apologies for absence yesterday, but I’m on a bit of a mission. Now this new desk is set up, and the new machine pretty much established, it is time to get a long-ignored set of issues done and dusted. Over a decade’s worth of detritus needs to be organised, much of it removed. Right now most of that is sitting in the middle of the front room. That’s Saturday afternoon’s task after the Gym. Speaking of which…


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Every exercise session I do with my heart-rate belt gives me a MYZONE Effort Point (MEP) score: August was the low water mark, for obvious reasons. I have another five days of exercise to do, and that should then exceed that monthly exercise total. It has been a really interesting week too, with some quite distinct improvements in both fitness and ability.

Those of you paying attention will know I have a historical hip injury that’s being treated with physiotherapy. In the last week, legs have been pushed a lot, especially on gradients, and the effect that had on my left side, particuarly on Thursday, was significant. In fact, at one point, it was as if that entire side was so hot it could be burning. There wasn’t pain, which is still a surprise… but that sensation was not pleasant.

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The highlight undoubtedly was Thursday.

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It should be noted that there’s not a single red minute in any of this. That’s only seven of yellow effort too… so why is this so good? I wasn’t tired at all: there was constant, sustained effort, and good use of both weights and exercises. I split jumped for the first time, and ran on an eight percent incline for thirty seconds. Thursday was a day of solid, undeniable progress.

I’m also raring to go this morning, once I’ve knocked some chores off and cleared a portion of the pile of stuff to my left. Enthusiasm to work has never been a real issue: problems would arise not being strong enough to do what I wanted to do. That is no longer a problem. The strength is here.

That’s all that is really needed.

Even in the Quietest Moments

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I can now Tweet up to 280 characters. I don’t intend to do that with the majority of my output, and here’s why.

Watching the annoyance and frustration last night as the feature rolled out in parts of my social sphere and not others, it was almost funny to think that this change was, for so many, being considered as some badge of honour. The sole reason this change has been instigated is to help advertisers use space to sell more shit and make Twitter more money. This isn’t some great championing for more speech and understanding we’re talking about. For someone like me, it is a curse as well as a blessing. The biggest upshot is, undoubtedly, that people will just stop reading.

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The major winner for me will be poetry and short stories: I can now create longer works to post… but as some people mute the stuff I posted in 140 characters, to begin with, length will simply make those posts less appealing and not more. That means I’ll need to work harder on visuals and clever use of space in posts, that it isn’t about filling every character and ‘optimising’ the output. Undoubtedly the format can be finagled, but to do so requires a willing audience, and watching the annoyance last night as people simply posted 280 characters of ANYTHING to see if they had the new limit…

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Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should has become the phrase that really matters. 280 characters in a Twitter fight are just as useless as 140 if you’re unable to make the point without resorting to abuse and anger. Proving a point succinctly and well, without ambiguity is still something many people could do with learning. Word economy is useful: more significant still is an understanding of when a word dump is appropriate. That’s something I’m still learning after 51 years.

The moral of yesterday’s rollout is that sometimes, being first is all that matters to many. That stuff about the other person’s social media feed always being more interesting is all in the eye of the beholder, you know. I’m not special, you’re not lacking, it’s just tech, and what will matter more long-term are the people who use the system to their advantage by embracing the positives and eliminating the negatives. No, I’m not going to be clever with the format until I am TOTALLY confident it can be pulled off successfully.

Time to watch other people and learn.

The Last Film

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I’d largely given up until today trying to understand what my body has been doing in terms of weight loss and gain: with at one point a six pound variance over a three day period, it is apparent that the way in which food is now processed and stored in my body has altered, plus there appears to be a remarkable amount of fluid retention. This of course could be all manner of things, which the menopause is not going to make any better. I have taken a waist measurement this morning, and once I picked myself up off the floor it is apparent that there’s a lot of bulk in the waist area that did not exist before. It appears to be a mixture of fat and fluid, so having spoken to my PT, I’m making the decision to try a full sugar detox beginning immediately.

Out will go honey in tea, any fruit sugars, and I’ll spend 72 hours on veg and protein in an attempt to kick start my liver into breaking down fat a little more productively. Going no sugar is really hard for me, but whenever I do this the effects are pretty much immediate. However, that was before gallbladder removal. If I can control weight effectively again using this method, and more importantly keep it constant, then there could be a gradual reintroduction of ‘treats.’ Right now, I feel physically a great deal better than I have for a long time, probably going back to January when I did my yearly detox. That should make the loss a bit easier, and if I have to do this twice a year it would not be a hardship. However, there’s a part of my brain which knows that maybe, just maybe, this is the time to give most of it up for good.

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I must admit I found it funny that a number of people quite blithely informed me I could ‘eat what I wanted’ once the gallbladder came out. That’s quite obviously not the case, and stopping the consumption bus now matters quite a lot in terms of me feeling in control of what is going on. I could well be overthinking it, but it does occur to me that there is nothing to lose by doing this and seeing if it makes a difference, rather than waiting another month and maybe gaining more weight. In the end, if I continue to do cardio daily, my fat will eventually shift if I don’t eat more calories than are required. Right now, I’m simply not doing enough of one and consuming too many of the other. Fix that, and everything will fix itself, but to do so requires willpower. That’s what’s really lacking.