@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social
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markmccaughrean

@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social

Former Senior Advisor for Science & Exploration at the European Space Agency / JWST Science Working Group Interdisciplinary Scientist / Co-founder Space Rocks / New worlds ahead / Opinions very much own

Located in The Netherlands for now, so expect lots of cycling with wide horizons & big skies for a bit longer 🚴‍♂️

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markmccaughrean, (edited ) to photography
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That’s more like it 🙂

A 51km ride out through Heidelberg & onto the flat Upper Rhine Valley, across the wide agricultural landscape, including a stretch on the Roman road to the lovely old town of Ladenburg🏺

Could almost have been a Dutch ride 🤪🇳🇱

But still there’s that 100 metre Big Down & Big Up to contend with at either end of the ride 😬✌️

Day 13
🚴‍♂️
📷

markmccaughrean, to Astro
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Even though night mode on the iPhone is capable of seeing pretty faint stars, some times it’s nice to have a bit of cloud to block them out & make the constellations more visible 🤷‍♂️

Here’s the Ursa Major (the plough or big dipper) over the Peterstal, with its famous “arc to Arcturus” along the handle to the left 🧸

Night night 😴

markmccaughrean, to photography
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Finally 🙇‍♂️

First ride since moving back to Germany 👍

A relatively easy 44km along the Neckar to Hirschhorn & back, but still 200m elevation gain.

First part down to the river was terrifying – if the brakes fail, you’re toast 😬

And cycling back up it at end – let’s say I need to lose 10kg 😱

In between, a mix of very rustic riverside paths & smooth roads with cars going past at >100kmh.

We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto ✌️

Day 11
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📷

A view of the walled village of Dilsberg atop a hill on the southern bank of the Neckar valley, seen from the other side with the river between. The foreground is in shadow while the hill is in sunshine, with blue skies above.
Crepuscular rays spreading in a fan across the sky, created by clouds near sunset, with a hill to the lower left blocking the sun.
A screenshot of the ride in Strava, with a topographic map showing the route and ride statistics below. My average was slow, but that was due to the many detours searching for a route by the river. In the end, I cycled most of it on the main road.

markmccaughrean,
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@saarmuller Ah, that beautiful landscape & those clouds are deeply etched into my soul – I miss them sorely & am sure I will make many return visits to enjoy them.

Not least because they also mean relaxed, safe cycling, without undue pressure on my aging knees, which are pretty the antithesis of how I expect my rides in Germany to be 😬

markmccaughrean,
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@saarmuller I used my lowest combo (34 front, 32 rear) & was right on the edge at the end, back to our house. And I walked the steepest 50 metres, >15% gradient. Ugh.

Not sure I can gear this bike any lower really – might have to go for a triple and/or mountain bike. And get a lot fitter & lighter.

markmccaughrean, to random
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Have successfully brought our 2015 iMac back to life, after an attempt at upgrading from Mojave to Monterey resulted in the Fusion Drive disappearing 😬

Did an internet restore, rebuilt the drive, restored the system & data from a Time Machine backup overnight, before realising that the machine was still booting from an external drive. Reset that to the internal drive & all appears well 🤞

Now all I have to deal with is the emotional trauma of seeing my wife’s inbox 🙀

markmccaughrean,
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@derickr How does that happen?! I mean, if you’re not going to read them, even glance at them, just filter them out or set all messages to read. Madness!

markmccaughrean,
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@derickr Errr ... well ... that's different. I mean, my inbox is far from empty, but at least there's nothing unread in there. The 8,299 badge on my wife's inbox indicates the unread ones ...

markmccaughrean, to random
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Strange.

German national news leading this evening with the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The piece included parts of the speeches by Macron & Biden, & an interview with Scholz. Some focus also on Zelensky being there, but not Russia.

And they mentioned that hundreds of veterans who had come “across the Atlantic” to mark the day.

But nothing at all about the country just across the Channel or Canada, who together landed just as many soldiers on the Normandy beaches on 6 June 1944 as the US 🤨

markmccaughrean,
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@birchbirch I know, but I deliberately left it vaguer to avoid a Murkan pile-on.

I saw a post elsewhere today that suggested that the many war films about the US role in WW2 (e.g. Saving Private Ryan) have given the idea to many that the US alone took part in D-Day.

To which the response was “well, hey, make your own films then.”

People conveniently forget that Hollywood has been a key part of the US soft power machine for decades & it is not by accident at all.

markmccaughrean,
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@birchbirch Of course, it would be remiss of me to ignore the fact that I grew up in the 1960s & 70s on an endless diet of war films that gave the strong impression that it was in fact the UK that won WW2 alone 🤪

There is of course a serious point here though, that these simplistic “the good guys always win” WW2 stories in the UK, US, & perhaps Russia have arguably led to the rise of nationalism & even neo-fascism among the kids of the 60s & 70s in precisely those countries.

markmccaughrean, to random
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And speaking of biking in Germany, I fully support the plans of the pan-European progressive party Volt to improve cycling infrastructure here 🚴‍♂️👍

But I do wonder whether they’ve ever actually ridden in Amsterdam 😬

I mean, “cycle like in The Netherlands”, sure, but like in Amsterdam?!

Err, not the best example – cyclists are mad there 🤪

🚴‍♂️

markmccaughrean, to photography
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Day 10 🇩🇪

Finally fitted the new 11-32 cassette & long cage rear derailleur to my bike, hopefully giving me a fighting chance of making it up some of the fiendishly steep hills around our new home 😬✌️

New chain follows tomorrow after degreasing & waxing 🥸

In other news, the FusionDrive of our 2015 family iMac croaked today when upgrading the OS. Have plenty of backups & am trying recovery now, but a whole new machine may be needed 😕

🚴‍♂️
📷

markmccaughrean,
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@birchbirch If so, it has really taken the huff: it’s sitting in internet recovery mode & doing absolutely nothing.

markmccaughrean,
@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social avatar

Postscript:

After many reboots into various recovery modes & finally an erase & rebuild of the SSD & HDD internal drives back into a Fusion Drive, I’m now doing a full Time Machine restore of our 2015 iMac.

Estimated time to restore: 12 hours 23 minutes.

I’m going to bed with fingers crossed 😴

markmccaughrean,
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@megatronicthronbanks Actually, the Apple documentation & Apple user forums have been absolute gold & have hopefully helped me solve what looked like a fairly bad situation.

The recovery modes & tools in macOS are superb; you just have to find the right instructions for your specific case (& remember, this machine is 9 years old).

Declaration of interest: I am an Apple shareholder 🙂

markmccaughrean,
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@megatronicthronbanks Funeral? Who said anything about dying?

Coming in 2040 in macOS Furnace Creek, Eternity mode.

Instead of just fading away, you can upload yourself into a small corner of your 4ZB holographic drive.

From there, you can enjoy posting witty bon mots on social media about Windows users & their shockingly rendered typefaces.

ForEVUH.

markmccaughrean,
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@Merlyn Do. Or do not. There is no “might be”.

I meant to get back to cycling when we moved to NL, but did nothing for 2 years of eating ESTEC lunches. So many bogus excuses.

Then the ESTEC doctor said I was going to die. It was to shock me – I wasn’t exactly Jabba the Hutt – but it worked.

That was January & at first I went swimming in the ESTEC pool. 5km at a time. So boring.

In spring, I got out my old steel racer & started pedalling.

It has saved my life, physically & mentally 🚴‍♂️

markmccaughrean,
@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social avatar

@Merlyn Well, to be more specific, it was the NL x cycling combo that saved me. On current limited evidence, DE x cycling may yet kill me thanks to the hills here 😬

If you’ve cycled before, you never forget. Try it this summer on some nice flatish off-road paths, & you won’t look back, I promise.

markmccaughrean, to random
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Niche question for my German friends:

In NL, I use the excellent Buienradar.nl website to plan cycling, with a focus on rain & wind predictions.

Is there a similar good, clean weather website or iOS app for DE that’s centred on Doppler radar & rain? Temperature & cloud are of secondary interest, as is wind here, most likely.

And not sites like Accuweather which use the execrable TCF cookie setting, where it’s impossible to opt out without endless clicking.

Ugh: just give me “reject all” 🤢

markmccaughrean, to random
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"Invite a tiger in for tea & the tiger might be fun. But it’s also still a tiger. And in the end it’s going to eat you too."

An excellent piece by Barney Ronay on sportwashing & the increasingly ugly nation state takeover of football (& other sports) fuelled by greed, realpolitik, & tribal loyalties.

Hardly a surprise, of course, not least to anyone who's seen the original 1975 "Rollerball".

https://www.theguardian.com/football/article/2024/jun/05/manchester-citys-trumpian-tactics-spotlight-autocratic-creep-in-football

markmccaughrean, to random
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Offered with no comment apart from a wry smile 🤷‍♂️🙃

Screenshot courtesy of @DrChrisCombs over on the X-rated place.

markmccaughrean, to photography
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Day 9

“A little fall of rain
Can hardly hurt me now” ☔️

Actually, that was overnight – it’s dry & partly sunny now 🤷‍♂️🙂

markmccaughrean,
@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social avatar

@sellathechemist Excellent 🙂 I’m not a plant specialist, but will go down later & take a wider photo to see if iNaturalist can identify it for me. There were several different plants with water drops on their leaves this morning, although this one was the winner by far 👍

markmccaughrean,
@markmccaughrean@mastodon.social avatar

@sellathechemist Have checked & indeed, it’s Garden Lady’s-Mantle (Alchemilla mollis). And furry it is too 🙂

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