• Today we caught up with my partner’s niece and immediate family to celebrate her recent birthday! A certain dog was VERY excited about two consecutive weeks of kids playing fetch with him 🐢

    A Maltese-shihtzu cross looks up eagerly at someone off camera, tongue out

  • The Victorian government has decided on a route for the Melbourne Airport rail link. It’s going to run through the Metro Tunnel, with stops at major suburban hubs (not just in the CBD) like Sunshine, Footscray, Caulfield and Clayton. This is good news, especially for western suburbanites and people catching V/Line trains from regional towns and cities who don’t want to go all the way into the CBD.

    One thing I’m not sold on is the $19.50 ticket price (although it is good you’ll be able to pay through the myki integrated ticketing system, and not have to buy a totally separate ticket like you currently have to do for Skybus). At $19.50, it won’t be an attractive transport option for workers at the airport, and that’s really a lot of people it’d be nice to tempt out of carbon-emitting cars into more sustainable public transport. Not everyone who goes to the airport is a traveller ready to be nickel-and-dimed for all these random surcharges and extra expenses.

    The article says the project is intended to be up and running by 2029; I’d guess the timing is so skilled workers can move smoothly from the current Metro Tunnel project (expected to be completed 2025–2026) onto it without the two projects overlapping too much and creating labour shortages. Of course considering there’s also the Suburban Rail Loop and plans for a second metro tunnel, who even knows! Of course I’d love to see these projects all built immediately, but the reality is you need a large number of people trained up to work on them, so the slow trickle it might have to be.

  • πŸ“Ί Killing Eve, S3

    Promo image for Killing Eve season 3Last night Viv and I finally finished all the episodes out so far of Killing Eve (yes, we were sleeping on it for a while). Overall I have to say, what a brilliant show, from the raging chemistry of the leads to the other stellar performances to the cinematography to Jodie Comer’s ridiculous talent with accents to the 10/10 banger of a soundtrack (the bulk of which is by a single band called Unloved and all available on Spotify, for what it’s worth).

    I do think that seasons 1 and 2 were superior to season 3. This is far from the only show that I feel like this has happened with – from Veronica Mars to The Good Place, I think a lot of my favourite shows have suffered a little step-down in quality after their second season. In the case of Killing Eve, I just felt like the plot was less coherent, even though the characters’ lines were as witty and enjoyable as before. By the end, I was also starting to feel a worry I later found neatly described by this Guardian review – that:

    A further burden now – and one shouldered by any subsequent series after one based on a cat-and-mouse premise – is that the artifice is showing. More and more elaborate ways must now be found to keep Eve and Villanelle apart, and other plotlines added to keep the central relationship from fulfilment and – given this one’s essentially fatal nature – ending.

    Right? The electric part of this show is the way Eve and Villanelle are magnetically drawn to one another, but cannot be together. The thing is though, there have to actually be good reasons why they cannot be together… if they keep getting weakened down and down this show will be a lot less compelling. (Now alternatively, if the show writers can defy expectations and think of a way to keep the characters together and the delightfully tense drama coming, then I’d be psyched for that.)

    Now, I certainly wouldn’t say the show has overstayed its welcome yet! It’s more that I’m just wondering where it goes from here, and can it get there without damaging my suspension of disbelief. Unfortunately production on season 4 had to be delayed thanks to the pandemic, so it’ll have to be a little longer than it otherwise would’ve been before I can find out.

  • πŸ“· Took advantage of the cooler weather today to whip up a batch of chicken stew in my pressure cooker. Packed full of veggies and utterly delicious πŸ˜‹

    Close-up of a bowl of chicken stew, pieces of carrot and potato visible in the broth

  • πŸ“š Armistice by Lara Elena Donnelly

    book cover for Armistice by Lara Elena DonnellyWhile Armistice was good, I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as Amberlough, the first book in the series. Where that book became compulsive reading as the sense of impending doom built up and up and up, this one kind of lacked that suspense.

    Despite that, I’m continuing to enjoy this trilogy as a deeply political example of spec fic. The first book was set, basically, in a city heavily based on Weimar-era Berlin. This one fleshes out more of the world, with most of the action taking place in the nearby-ish tropical country of Porachis, although most (if not all) of the characters are still expats or refugees from Gedda. Without wanting to spoil too much for anyone who hasn’t even read the first book (!), this one focuses more on politics at the diplomatic level, as well as resistance movements and their need for arms. There are three main perspective characters, of which it’s the new one, Lillian, whose chapters are probably closest to the “spy thriller” vibe I got from the first book. Cordelia makes a triumphant return from the first book, having undergone even further character development since then and becoming someone very compelling, imo. Aristide is the third POV character, and probably does the least of them, but he has his moments.

    Overall, while I feel a bit like this book was a “bridge” between a more exciting part one and (hopefully) part three, it still has its merits. If you like politics or are interested in 1930s history, or even just in LGBTI representation, this should be an appealing and somewhat unique series. At least at the moment I write this, the omnibus edition of the series is only $2.84 on Amazon AU, which is the kind of price where you might as well buy it even if you’re not sure whether you’ll ever work through your TBR pile enough to reach it. It’s pretty good.

  • Over the last couple of days I’ve read numerous discussions of the new M1 Macs, including this John Gruber article – by all accounts they’re incredible! Not in the market for a new computer myself, but my partner’s still rocking a 2011 MBA. I’m trying to convince him now… πŸ’»

  • Just had the fright of my life hanging out laundry, when I realised A FREAKING WASP was walking all over me without a care in the world. Couldn’t even swat it away cos I was scared it’d sting me! Ended up running inside the second it detached for even a second from my body… 😱

  • Upgraded my MacBook Air to Big Sur this afternoon! (I like to wait a few days for any glaring problems to be reported on and fixed if necessary before I suffer from them.) The visual changes are subtle, and otherwise it all feels much the same. What you’d hope for, I guess.

  • 🐈 Always flattering when Gidget chooses to spend some time with me in the mornings, in between her patrols and snack breaks!

    A tabby cat relaxing on a bed, eyes closed, tummy partly exposed

  • Tonight I cooked this Thai-style lemongrass and coconut soup. The link to the original recipe is long lost to me, but I make a broth out of about 2 tbsp lemongrass paste, 2 tsp minced garlic, 2 tsp minced ginger, 40mL lime juice, 20mL fish sauce, 15mL soy sauce, 10mL honey and two finely chopped bird’s eye chillies with three cups of water. In that I boil some white fish, chopped vegetables and rice noodles, and once those are done I stir through light coconut milk, then serve 😊

    Close-up of a bowl of light-coloured soup, with some rice noodles, red capsicum and carrot identifiable