Thursday, April 30, 2009


This week I walked to work, for the first time this year in fact. The weather has been unseasonably warm.

My socks were a bit thin, and I got a small blister. Oops!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

buck hill view

buck hill view
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is the view from the top of Buck Hill, which I topped as part of my 2 hour hike at Blue Hills Reservation, today. This time I hiked in the vicinity of Houghton Pond. It was very crowded right around the pond, especially at the beach area.

I saw a mallard duck, but no ducklings.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A story about "The Turn of a Friendly Card"

by Alan Parsons Project

This album from Alan Parsons Project grew on me quickly. I bought it entirely because I couldn’t get enough of the song “Time”.

Goodbye my friends
Maybe for forever
Goodbye my friends
The stars wait for me

The song transmits such a terrible feeling of loss and sadness! I definitely want this played at my funeral.

Once I bought the album, I realized that it contains several oldies but goodies. The song “Nothing Left To Lose” was new to me, but it immediately grabbed me:

You gave the best you had to give
You only have one life to live
You fought so hard you were a slave
After all you gave there was nothing left to save
You’ve got nothing left to lose…

duck pond

duck pond
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I was hoping to find some ducklings at Ponkapaug, but I didn't see any waterfowl at all. I took a little detour over to Duck Pond, which is to the east of the main pond, but there was nothing there either! It was a nice spot to sit for a while, though. Except for the traffic noise from nearby Rt 24.

I can't recommend this trail, at the moment. There's a project under way to improve a dam to the west of the pond, and the trail has been rerouted through a golf course for at least a mile. I couldn't help but have the feeling that I was intruding as I walked past all the golfers teeing up. Golf and hiking do not mix well.

ponkapoag boardwalk

ponkapoag boardwalk
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today's hike: 2 h 5 min | 6 mi | 2.9 mph

I took another walk at Blue Hills Reservation today. I'm just taking it easy working my way into the hiking season.

I did about 6 miles around Ponkapoag Pond. This is a very flat trail, so although it felt like a stroll, my pace was pretty fast.

I went down the Ponkapoag boardwalk for a short distance. The water was so high that some of the boards would flood when I stepped onto them, so I decided to try that some other time and turned back.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Blue Hills Reservation

Blue Hills Reservation
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

First hike of the season today: 1.5 h along the trails at Blue Hills Reservation. I did a lot of stopping and listening.

tulips and hyacinth

tulips and hyacinth
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I took this photo on Easter, last Sunday. I think it's going to be a really fast Spring, over soon.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A review of "Firewall"

by Henning Mankell

I picked up Firewall because it was written by a Swedish author, Henning Mankel, and I’d recently enjoyed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, also by a Swedish author. Pretty silly reason. Well, there was that, and the fact that my local Barnes & Noble was having a 3-for-2 sale.

I was not disappointed. I enjoy Mankel’s style. He fleshes out his story and characters by adding quick little mundane details that seem to come straight from your own life. Wallander, his police detective, is moody, going from pessimistic one day to upbeat the next, for no particular reason. He becomes paranoid about his colleagues, but later feels amiable towards them. He writes himself a note to do something and leaves it on the floor in front of his door so he won’t forget it in the morning. Etc. These little details make you feel like Wallander is a person, not the cardboard cutout that so often appears in genre fiction.

Aside from that, the mystery in this book, involving financial network security, was intriguing. Although it didn’t contain enough detail to make me perfectly happy, it did keep me eagerly following along to find out more. I was slightly disappointed by the ending. There was a bit of that element where the evil arch-villain trips himself up by making his master stroke far too complicated. However, getting to that ending was entertaining, so all is forgiven.

Plus, it’s kind of fun walking through a world where all the place names remind you of items from an IKEA catalog.

I am succumbing to the idea that the Swedes are just really good fiction authors. Maybe it helps that a book has to be pretty good for it to be worth translating from Swedish into English.

A review of "Babylon by Bus (Unabridged)"

by Neumann, Ray, Jeff LeMoine

Babylon by Bus is the autobiographical account of two young American men, Ray Lemoine and Jeff Neumann, who head for Iraq to become NGO workers soon after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, during the “lull” before the major insurgency.

I’ll be brief. My impressions are accurately reflected by the 1-star and 2-star reviews at Amazon.

The narrator (the story is told from the POV of LeMoine) has an almost comically arrogant attitude. He and his friend, both surprisingly jaded for people so young, seem compelled to encourage each other into the most inane, pointless behaviors. If you ever want to understand why people hate Americans, this book gives numerous examples of the stupidity that sometimes makes me embarrassed to be American myself.

The story makes some vague claims about the good that was done by the two authors in organizing aid to war victims under the CPA. I suppose this proves that two fools just might accidentally do something right once in a while.

I give this book two stars because I think it might be educational. In a few instances, their underlying experiences are interesting, from a sort of back-alley perspective. Unfortunately, the whole story reeks of their overweening self-righteousness and “too cool for school” perspective. When they are assaulted by two men who beat them with their shoes, you want to join in and shout along with the attackers “You are stupid men! You are arrogant Americans!”

To get a grittier feel for post-war Iraq, I’d much rather have heard from some of the interesting characters described in the book, such as Marla Ruzicka or A Heather Coyne. I don’t have any good recommendations for alternative information sources, however.

Full disclosure: I opposed the invasion of Iraq, as did the two authors. So my criticisms have nothing to do with their claims of liberalism.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Tank seventy-seven

Total miles: 27686. Trip miles: 402.6. Gallons: 8.854. Price per gallon: $1.959.

Screen mileage: 50.2 mpg. Tank mileage: 45.5 mpg.

This tank was almost entirely spent going about 65 mph on a round-trip drive. Temperatures were in the high thirties and low forties.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

A story about "Babylon by Bus (Unabridged)"

by Neumann, Ray, Jeff LeMoine

I picked up the audiobook of Babylon by Bus at the library today. I have a lot of driving to do tomorrow, and I was looking for something interesting to occupy the time.

I got through the first disc today. So far, I’m finding it kind of irritating. Their attitude strikes me as exceptionally cavalier and stupid. This may be aggravated by the sound of the narrator’s voice. I’m still planning to finish it, and I hope it improves.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

white noise

My work environment is far too noisy for my liking. iSerenity has a potential solution - online white noise. Only problem is, it seems like a pointless waste of bandwidth. Another minor problem is that my pc at work doesn't have a working audio system (always seems to be a problem with me and Linux). I think for now, I'll stick to headphones and my ambient noise mp3s. But I kind of like it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Tank seventy-six

Total miles: 27283. Trip miles: 361.7. Gallons: 6.991. Price per gallon: $1.999.

Screen mileage: 49.6 mpg. Tank mileage: 51.7 mpg.

Higher than usual tank mileage, making up for the lower than usual mileage last time.

It has been three weeks exactly since the last fill-up, which is great! I used up more gas than usual last weekend, driving around the Boston area with a friend. Mileage was especially good then.