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Friday, 30 September 2011

Families are like fudge - mostly sweet with a few nuts. ~Author Unknown

Hello again people.
Not sure if anyone is still reading this, but hopefully there are some people stuff out there.

So from sometime in Aug (22nd) to early September (12th) my parents, sister (3 mentions) and Sophster came to see me, so this will be a blog about that.

Okay. For those of you that don't know my family, they look like this: (me, dad, mum, Rach), in cheers!

(yes it was tricky finding a picture of mum, because she likes to be behind the camera)

Okay, so how did we spend our time? We started off hanging out in New Haven, since I had to work. :( But this meant that my family got to see Yale and some of the New England coastline.

Then my parents and sister dissapeared off to the mountains for a weekend, so Soph & I were left in New Haven, since I had some work to get done, again...

This was about when Hurricane Irene hit. Which Soph & I might have slept through.... we still witnessed the damage though and the irritating loss of power which occurred on only my end of Edwards street! This meant that we spent most of the weekend at the lab, which had power and played lots of Quarriors (which is an awesome game, look forward to that one GameSoc!)

Soph & I left after the storm (still with no power at home) for Boston on then bus  Monday morning. We met my parents at the hotel in the afternoon and so my holiday could start!

We stayed in Boston for 2 nights and managed to see a large amount of the city, but the main highlight for me was going whale watching off the coast of Boston (see Soph's facebook for more pictures) It can only really be described by actually doing it, so I won't try here, but it was fantastic.
We also managed to see Harvard, which was really pretty, but not as nice as Yale (I think I'm under obligation to say that) and Cheers!

After Boston, we headed into RI, to see Providence. Here, we saw Brown University, went shopping, saw the city and had a really HUUUUGGEEE meal. We only stayed here for a night, before moving along to Cape Cod, where a more traditional Hinton holiday could start, i.e. a relax!

We stayed at a small resort with it's own beach and had a nice relax, pottering around to the nearby towns, or up the coast to another beach etc... which was wonderful, I was really ready for a rest at this point! So that really was great to do!

Following this, we spend a few days hanging out in New Haven, since I had to get back to work. My family did some more chillin' as we prepared to hit NYC the next (and final) weekend.

NYC is an awesome city. We stayed out in Queens and got the subway in each day. Having 3 days in total was a good plan. Meant that we weren't too rushed and managed to see loads of stuff. Statue of liberty, times square, central park, rockerfeller center, empire state, Macy's.... it goes on and on. There is so much to do in NYC. Oh, we also saw the Chicago musical, which was really good.

Soph & my family then left really early... really early... on the monday morning.
So overall it was amazing to see them and to see some parts of New England which I have not been able to see due to my lack of a car! I really did enjoy every minute, so thank you to my parents for coming to see me.

Stay tuned for another audiobook review & Mr. Knapton's visit!

Achievement unlocked! Sorry if it was a little long. I tried to keep it short.

Friday, 16 September 2011

“The sound came again. There was a whistle to it, and a moan. It was almost a hiss, and it could’ve been a strangled gasp. Above all, it was quiet, and it seemed to have no source. It whispered.” ― Cherie Priest, Boneshaker

Hey people once again! 
Look at this 2 blogs in quick succession, look at me go... 

I thought I would try something new, possibly even controversial with this blog entry. After having recently (well a while ago now subscribed to the fantastic audible service, I am now listening to ~1 audiobook a month. 

For my starting book, I chose Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, on the recommendations of my favorite "not too horrible" podcast, the d6generation. Thus I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick run-down of the book on here and then continue reviewing if people are interested in reading my reviews. 

Starting off, I will not give away any large spoilers or anything like that, since the aim of these will be to let people know whether it is worth reading, not to ruin the book itself. The book was narrated by Will Wheaton (whom some of you may have heard of) and Kate Reading, both of which did a fantastic job of bringing the story alive (I was thoroughly impressed by Will Wheaton's prowess as a voice actor, and was not put off by the fact that a grown up Weasley Crusher was speaking to me, okay maybe for a sec...) 

On to the book: This a a steampunk novel at it's heart, set in an alternate history to the Civil War (which unfortunatly isn't mentioned or used enough throughout the book). The Boneshaker, after which the book is named, was a huge drilling machine, built to mine through the ice under Seattle, to obtain the vast stores of gold hidden beneath. Unfortunately, due to the race of it's construction, it backfired. The machine produced a thick, heavy smog which slowly filled rooms, buildings and streets until it eventually had to be contained by a great wall build all around Seattle, making Seattle basically inhabitable, but some people stayed. 

The book follows the exploits of the Boneshaker's inventor's wife and her son (Zeke), as Zeke ventures into the city to try and find out more about his father and try to clear his name for the atrocities caused by the boneshaker machine. 

The book is really interesting, especially if you're a steampunk fan. It doesn't play on any of the standard steampunky types (like Victorian spaceships, or whatever), so it seems like it's own fantastic world. Which brings me to the first problem, the world is rich and wonderful, but is unused, it seems like a backdrop and never has any impact to further the story etc... it's only a minor thing, but would have been nice. 

The story is also creepy and a bit dark, with viscous (yet believable) characters and themes, which is always a plus for me. 

Also, it has airships. I frigging loooovvveee airships. :P

So in summary, since I will try adn keep these short, if you enjoy steampunk and are looking for something a little different with zombies (yes, steampunk zombies), then give this a listen. I also cannot recommend audible enough. 

Next will be Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, to which I am currently listening. 

Thanks guys & gals. 

Achievement Unlocked! 

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

“In physics, you don't have to go around making trouble for yourself - nature does it for you.” - Frank Wilczek

It's been a while again! Ooops!

Thought I would quickly do a blog which isn't about gaming! (I know, dull huh?)

 Haven't put anything since GenCon, so let's start with just after that. I traveled directly from Indianapolis, gaming capital of the world (okay, so not entirely not about gaming), to sunny Durham, NC to help out at Duke University's HIGS lab.

 If anyone is interested, HIGS stands for High Intensity Gamma Source. It produces these high-intensity gamma rays (after which it is named) by Compton Back-scattering of FEL photons produced by "wibbling" the electrons  as they travel around the storage ring. This produces a mono-energetic, intense and well polarized beam which can be used to excited a target of interest to observe the levels (and hopefully discover new levels by looking at gamma decays from this target). It can also tell some of the characteristics of the levels due to the set-up of the detectors around the target itself.

So I was around Duke for 2 weeks in total, firstly for "our" experiment and secondly theirs as a further helping hand. It was really good to see Duke University, which has a beautiful campus, especially in the summer since the weather was wonderful all the time. It was a pity that the lab was kept at electronics temperatures, meaning that I had to put a jumper ON whenever I went into the lab.

Plus the ants were annoying, stupid ants and their lines...

Anyway, I'll leave you with this;
To honor my new PFS character, who is a wizard with a big-ass gun! (If anyone reads that as big ass-gun, he'll kill you)

Achievement Unlocked!