Walk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground

Walk the Lines coverWalk the Lines: The London Underground, Overground by Mark Mason

Full of great London trivia as you might expect, but also surprisingly deep philosophical insights into what makes the city (or indeed any city). I suppose walking over 400 miles gives you a lot of time to think about these things, and it shows. Also Bill Drummond makes a surprise appearance, which is never a bad thing.

★★★★★ 5/5 stars

Bulgeium

Having just visited Brussels for the first time, I’m mystified as to how the Belgians aren’t the fattest people in the world. Their national cuisine apparently consists of:

  • Fries
  • Various exciting sauces for the fries, often based on mayonnaise
  • Chocolate
  • Waffles
  • Waffles covered in chocolate
  • Beer

All of which are delicious, but hardly healthy.

10 years

Wikipedia-logo-v2.svgHot on the heels of Saturday’s 10 year college reunion, today marks 10 years since I registered a Wikipedia account and made my first edit with it (there were a few anonymous edits before that, but they’ve been lost to the mists of time). Ironically given recent events, that first edit was defending Jeremy Clarkson!

It was impossible to imagine what that start would lead to. Since 2005, I’ve racked up around 75,000 more edits on the English Wikipedia (not counting the forays into other Wikimedia sites). Far more than that: I’ve learnt a huge amount, travelled to exciting places, and best of all met so many fascinating and fantastic people. Now I’m even fortunate enough to have a job supporting the project I love.

Here’s to another 10 years!

The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers

The third rule of Fight Club, as recommended by our lawyers.

3. In the preceding two rules, and any rules to be added at a future date, the word “talk” shall be taken to encompass any form of communication, verbal or non-verbal, including but not limited to: talking, whispering, shouting, screaming, writing, drawing, typing, singing, signing, mumbling, miming, interpretive dance, charades, semaphore, blogging, tweeting, subtweeting, Facebooking, vaguebooking, whatever it is that one does on Linkedin, skywriting, and any other form of communication currently extant or to be invented at a later date.

2014 Reading Challenge

Just like in 2013 I challenged myself to read a set number of books in 2014. This time the magic number was 45. And just like in 2013, I hit the target exactly, although it was much less close run than last year (when I frantically raced to finish my last book on New Year’s Eve). This time I actually finished with about a week to spare.

Here’s the list of what I read. Mostly the usual mix of classic sci-fi and fantasy, programming, random non-fiction.

Favourite fiction? To Kill a Mockingbird. Somehow our class managed to not read this in school, so I thought it was time to catch up on a classic that seemingly everyone else had read, and it didn’t disappoint. A real page-turner, but with true heart.

Favourite non-fiction? This was much tougher to choose, but probably Our Pet Queen: A New Perspective on Monarchy. Short, incisive, fascinating and often funny.

The two biggest chunks of reading were A Song of Ice and Fire books 3-5 and Orson Scott Card’s Ender Quartet books 2-4. Both series did start to flag a bit as they went on. Ender more so; it would always have been hard to keep up to the standard of the amazing Speaker for the Dead, but Children of the Mind‘s plot really did descend into the ridiculous. Not sure if I’ll return to Card’s series, I’ve heard the Shadow books are good but after the bad taste Children of the Mind left there’s plenty of other books I want to check out first.

As for ASoIaF, while A Feast for Crows was a bit of a slog, I’ll join the massed ranks of people waiting eagerly for George R R Martin to hurry up and resolve some of these unanswered questions and cliffhangers!

For 2015 I pondered dropping the challenge entirely. It’s been rewarding, but I want to focus a bit less on reading: it’s absolutely still something I want to make time for, but there are plenty of other things I want to do more of as well (writing, coding, photography, maybe picking up guitar again). There’s also some intimidatingly long books on my “to read” list (Pillars of the EarthI’m looking at you here!) which I found myself putting off at least partially because they would make it harder to hit my target. In the end I’ve decided to scale my goal back to 40 books again this year. Whether I make it is anyone’s guess, but at least it gives me something to blog about same time next year!