Monday, October 12, 2009


Okay... fans of Science On The Edge will appreciate exactly why this represents a "woohoo"! moment. Those of you who aren't such fans -- jeez, you don't know what you're missing. A superconducting material that works at -19C? That's totally bloody amazing. Your goddam home deep freeze gets down to that level!

Of course, it still requires Thallium, which isn't exactly the most common element on the planet - but it's not super-rare, either. And of course, -19C is still pretty cold. But... shit! They could just about wire up the Antarctic facilities with this stuff as is!

And the fact that they're still climbing the temperature scale with these new superconducting substances is even more fantastic. If the day comes when we get decent room-temperature superconduction.... hot damn!

I'd like to see further tests from other labs to confirm this one, but they seem pretty sure of themselves, and it fits with the pattern of the other complex superconductors they've been discovering. Fantastic!

Right. Okay. Enough geeking out. On the home front:

Weekend was pretty good. Natalie took the kids to Launceston on Saturday, leaving me a day on my own. Unfortunately, it takes me a good half-day to decompress these days, so I didn't write nearly as much as I should. But I watched some Robot Chicken, and I ate lazily, and I read a bunch of stuff I've been meaning to read.

And I did sword training. And some archery. And a good session with the kickbag. So that was all good. Got the sword grading coming up in a few very short weeks - still got plenty of work to do there.

Come Sunday, John E flew back in from Queensland, where he's been propping up his indigent brothers for the last five or six weeks. I zipped into Launceston and met Nat and the kids. Then we all took off to the Evandale markets, not too far from the airport. I found a nifty secondhand recurve bow for Younger Son, and Natalie got a great pair of boots for the daughter, and there were all kinds of interesting movies to buy... and I found an orange seedling, and a nice-looking apple seedling, so by the time I went to collect John E from the airport, I had to use Natalie's car 'cos mine was full of Stuff.

John didn't seem to think that hanging around Launceston with the Flinthart Family was the Key to Happiness, so I took him back to Scottsdale and dumped him... the ungrateful swine! What kind of chap DOESN'T leap at the opportunity to spend an afternoon with three noisy children just because he had to get up at sparrowfart to take a two-hour flight on DeathStar Airways? Ha! The man's got no stamina.

Anyway, I turned around and went back into Launceston, and hung out at the new Aquatic Centre with Nat and the kids for an hour or two. The Aquatic Centre is pretty cool. There's a humongous splash-pool complete with water playground -- slides, hoses, showers, climbing tower, and giant bucket that periodically dumps a metric shitload of water from about five metres up -- plus a range of kid-friendly pools, plus two whacking great lap pools for training proper. I did a quick kilometre, and decided I definitely need to factor more swimming in this summer, even if it is a bastard of a thing to timetable.

After the splashy afternoon, the kids were properly tired, so I took 'em home while Natalie stayed in Launceston for her weekly dose of the folky stuff. The Younger Son and I tried out his new recurve... bit of tech-talk for archery types here: the new recurve is a simple fibreglass job, but it's a little shorter than the cheap-ass springy red beginner's bow he's been using, and it's also a good deal stiffer. This means that Younger Son can actually get a decent flight by drawing to his chin. With the red bow, his arms were just that bit too short... the bow required too much draw to really put any power behind the arrows. This new one is just what the doctor ordered.

So, yeah -- then we had toasty sandwiches and salads, and watched an interesting and rather clever "Batman Reunion" sort of movie, with Adam West and Burt Ward not quite reprising their famous roles. Actually... for any fans of the old 60s Batman, the movie is well worth the effort. It's kind of a weird retrospective on the series, with West and Ward playing their modern selves but camping it up in the fashion of their iconic roles as they try to track a stolen Batmobile... while at the same time, an ensemble of very decent actors tells the story of the Making Of The Series as a sequence of flashbacks.

It's quite clever, and actually succeeds in being deliberately funny in a lot of places. And of course, some of the stories from the original series are pretty cool. Who knew that poor old Burt Ward had so much trouble controlling his wedding tackle as "Robin"?

Monday: I planted my orange and my apple, and the heavens obliged with rain. I did a lot of editing and reading, and a little writing. I tried out my nifty new charcoal gorilla around dinner time, and then took off for an evening of sword training. Long day.

And today will be just as long.