Friday, 25 March 2011

Summer Sunshine

I'm aware that the song I'm referencing in the post title is by The Corrs, and that this makes me MASSIVELY GAY, but I'm cool with it, because it fits and I couldn't be bothered thinking up something more manly.

On Sunday I moved into my room over the vacation in Lensfield 32. It's not a bad room itself, a bit small, but there's a fair amount of cupboards and storage space, and I don't really need a huge room or anything. My major complaint at this point is that the "desk" (it's not a desk - it's just a table) is pretty small, doesn't have any drawers, and has these awkward things at the corners that obstruct you from putting your legs under the table. That and the chair is utterly shit for back support. But aside from the furnishing, it's an OK room and pretty good for the rent band.

About a week ago I made a laptop stand out of cardboard. I cut the cardboard into pieces, they all slotted together fairly akin to the pic below, and it was fairly dandy.

I made my own modified design (because I have a big 17" laptop which means it needs to be a bit more elaborate) and it seemed to work well. It raised my laptop up so it ran a lot cooler (like 10°C cooler when running StarCraft II), and tilted it so it was more comfortable to type on. By pure fluke it also meant my laptop screen was raised to almost exactly the same height as my second monitor, which was better both aesthetically and ergonomically. I think the phrase to best describe how I felt would be "dead chuffed about it". If it wasn't for a lack of camera with which to take photos, it would have gotten its own blog post.

As it happens, it wasn't as awesome as I thought it was. My laptop is pretty damn heavy (3.5kg) and turns out that four vertical cardboard slats don't support that sort of weight particularly well. I'd also been a bit retarded and short-sighted when cutting the cardboard out and gotten the orientation of it wrong. Corrugated cardboard has a direction in which it's pretty resistant to buckling, and a direction in which it's not, and I'd not being paying enough attention when cutting the pieces out, and screwed that aspect up. So it still sort of does the job of raising my laptop up, but at a far lower height than it was a week ago. I've got the time tomorrow to make a Mk II, so I'll probably do that and make it a little better the second time. Or alternatively I could find some sheet metal and make a metal one on the CNC machine in the IfM, though that seems a bit excessive and somewhat defeats the awesomeness of it being just botched out of cardboard.

On an artsy-crafty sort of note, I was on the BBC late one night last week, and saw an article in the 'Most Read' section titled 'Student recreates school out of Lego', which I thought was a pretty cool sounding article, so I clicked on it. My first thought on seeing the picture of the model was "Hey, that sort of looks like my school". Then I actually read the full article title, and turns out it is my old school. To be fair, he's done a pretty good job, and it's a pretty good likeness. God damn bloody overachieving public schoolboys...

My most notable activity of the week so far was cycling with Peter on Wednesday, in which I did the longest cycle ride I have ever done, and which also has the greatest total climb out of any ride I've done. I'd planned the route out beforehand, with the basic target being Great Chishill, which is the highest point in Cambridgeshire, and the route mostly following quiet country roads on the way out, and then the 11 Cycleway on the way back. We stopped off at Waitrose on the way out to get some stuff to eat and drink, chatted to some other cyclist in the car park for a bit, and studied the map to make sure we knew where we were going. Peter had a fairly new OS map, but it stopped about two miles north of where we wanted to be, so we were using this older OS map which actually had the entire area we were cycling in on it. We were a little surprised at first to discover it was missing some fairly noticeable features, such as the M11 and A14, which just completely didn't exist on it (turns out the map was from like 1972), but for the roads we were on it was fine.

It being the first time I'd ever cycled that far, I wasn't really sure quite how to set about it, but it turned out OK. The climbs were pretty painful, in particular the second peak just before Littlebury Green, and the undulations after it, but on the whole I actually felt pretty good, and my legs were hardly sore yesterday. I think we paced it well, and a couple of rest stops to take in the scenery probably helped a bit too. It was nice just to be out in the sun, and even though it's monotonous there's something quite pleasant about just sticking to a single gear and rhythm on the flat, and eating up the miles and the scenery.

It's still a fair distance away from our final goal of cycling from Cambridge to Oxford in the summer, given we only did about a third of the distance and a fifth of the total climb, but it felt pretty good for a first outing of that sort of distance in a while. If the weather stays good then it'll be fairly easy to do a few more rides of a similar sort of distance over the next couple of weeks.

I've basically got this weekend left before I need to start cracking on again with revision, and the Henley Boat Races are taking up my entire Sunday from like 9am to 3am Monday morning, but it should be reasonably good fun. For once I'm actually thankful for the F1 being in Australia (holy shit it's finally starting again) because it means I'll actually be able to watch it on Sunday before the coach leaves to Henley.

The general consensus from the pre-season stuff was that McLaren were going to be rubbish, but the practice times from this morning seem to imply that they've at least got some sort of pace. We'll see - I don't really hold testing and free practice times with particularly great regard, and I wouldn't try and make any sort of prediction on what is probably going to be another very close season until the end of qualifying tomorrow. I'll still be rooting for the McLarens, and I can't wait until Sunday.

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