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Dr Who prolem [Sep. 27th, 2014|09:34 pm]
I know that some of you are linked in to the Dr Whoniverse, so thought I would ask a question which either you have never encoutered before (which would be good to know) or which you and your friends are sick and tired of (which would also be good to know, particularly if there is a simple solution!)

September was a busy month.  So we have been reliant on the i-player.  And it doesn't work.  We have seen episodes 1 and 2 and 6 (two of these 'live') but the i-player says 3 and 4 are not available, and 5 runs for so far before it says that there are bandwidth problems (clearly not true - the computers are all saying that isn't true).

We are assuming that it is a problem with an antiquated wii talking to the wifi ...

The real problem is, I think Capaldi may be my favourite doctor, and I _need_ to watch episodes 3 , 4 and 5.
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Belated Felicitations! [Sep. 9th, 2014|10:28 pm]
Happy Birthday for yesterday, na_lon!  Hope I'll see you this weekend.
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Hand waving: two films and a tv programme [Aug. 30th, 2014|10:08 pm]
Having not been to the cinema for ages, we have been twice in a few weeks, plus I saw (at Loncon) a television programme in a huge room with a large audience.

Easily the best was, I think, the tv programe: 15 Million Merits - part of the Black Mirror series.  Warning for Darkness.

The two films were Guardians of the Galaxy and Lucy.  Lucy, I went to with some reluctance because the trainers suggested it was a slick US gangester film with a thin SF pasted over the top to enable some running down corridors (but I was bribed with the prospect of an Italian restaurant, so I went).  Conversely, I went to GotG because it had a good review.

I did enjoy GotG - much more than anything else Marvel I've seen.

Lucy on the other hand, I enjoyed much more than I expected.  It is a much more difficult film than I'd expected.  Also, as the warning says 'strong bloody violence'.  And that is  not swearing. I was right in thinking it would be 'not an SF film', but not because of superficiality, rather because it is more fantasy than SF (in that the science operates like magic).  Also a grump because the Native Americans were on horses (I suppose, yes, it would be just about possible for horses to have reached Manhattan before the Dutch, but I can vaguely remember Dutch whinging about horses dying - and no one is suggesting that replacements could be had locally).

A final thought: in both 15 Million Credits and Lucy, people/Lucy can make things happen as if the universe was an ipad.  There is a lot of hand-waving.  I remember getting lost in St Petersburg, and asking someone the way to my hotel.  It took about three goes before I understood that the kind woman was pointing, but doing so with her arms hanging down, gesturing in a way that was almost unnoticeable (but probably equivalent, to me, of swinging my whole body and both arms in the direction of the hotel).  Will, in this MacMovement future, we all adopt the same body language, or will regional dialects of movement be recognised by the interface, just as different languages are?
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Jiggity Jig [Aug. 19th, 2014|09:12 pm]
[Current Location |Yome]

Coming home from Worldcon, ExMemSec drove us up the A1 for much of the way.

There is a point where it crosses the Witham.  Who else knows: the Witham, the Welland, the Nene and The Ouse all flow into the Wash.  And then the landscape changes.  I am home.  The land is the proper mix of fields (pasture and under crops), woodland, and towns and villages.  The land rolls properly under these surface coverings.  The clouds knew their places, and allowed both sun and sky through, but provided a top layer pattern over the land use.

Of course, it had to end, as we entered the vale of York, but until we released Kiwi and Broggy from cat prison at Doncaster, I was in the landscape which provides my childhood security.

I should write more about the Worldcon - it was great to meet so many of you there.  I went to a number of excellent panels introducing writers and fandom from around the world, found out that my dream of a portable mass spectrometer is well on its way, and  quote that makes especial sense for me "Without the passivity of tourists, but fully aware of the power they have to act upon the world, to transform it, recreate it". (Constant Nieuwenhuys) I think that while I have many skills and abilities, the one that I have honed and most enjoy using is being a tourist.  But an active tourist.  I want to read the quotation in context, but it makes sense to me out of context.  which is as it should be, for to be a tourist is to make sense, out of context.
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Worldcon [Aug. 3rd, 2014|07:48 pm]
I hope to see some of you at Worldcon.

On the Thursday, the Tolkien Society are holding their seminar.  Unfortunately, I had to take over the organising, and didn't have the capacity to do this, so it's not what it could have been.

But there will be good things!

There will be a Tolkien Tent, with seed cake - and (once my alloted hour in the fan hall is over) a Lego Orthanc and Perrots Folly to build.

Put 'Tolkien' into the tag engine to see what's happening.

If anyone is going and has access to free large printing, please let me know ... I have elevation drawings of Perrot's folly to print.
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Learning to sail [Jun. 2nd, 2014|09:41 pm]
The week sailing was wonderful.  With some difficulty, I progressed from feeling that I was trying to run with bars of soap tied to my feet to - mostly- being in control of a series of headlong swooping steps.

Much to my surprise, I see well enough in the dark to  be able to sail a boat.  This is because boats move slowly, and much of what you are trying to see is actually quite bright against a quite dark background.

As a result, I am now certified to take charge of a boat, during the day, in familiar waters.

My instructor (the lovely Nigel)  recommends I do some non-tidal sailing for a bit, but I wouldn't mind getting more familiar with the Channel Isle in due course.  We sailed from Jersey to Guernsey to Sark (new to me), to Alderney (again new to me) to France and back to Jersey.  I did the passage plan from Sark to Alderney (secondary port - eek! to secondary port - more eek! - at mid-way between needps and springs - double eek!).  The eeking is because you can't use the nice given data, but have to jiggle it a bit to come up with the answers.  Then I helmed form Alderney to France.  Apart from Nigel having to take back control when I managed to sail into a whirlpool, this was much better than expected.
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A proper update [May. 19th, 2014|07:59 pm]
Loving my new job.

Dissapointed to hear today that we won't be on the 2014 boat to Tristan da Cunha.

Successfully passed Day Skipper Theory, and off to Jersey to do Compentant Crew Practical next week.

Cats still bugging us, although Kiwi had us worried last autumn/winter.

Looking forwards to Loncon3, (and now) Oxonmoot.
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(no subject) [May. 19th, 2014|07:57 pm]
If you are the sort of person who signs petitions, please consider signing the petition to the US Coastguard to restart the search for the crew of the Cheeki Rafiki. The father-in-law of one of my colleagues at work is one of the missing.
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Frijoles negro borrachos (drunk black beans) [Feb. 20th, 2013|08:01 pm]
Danny Miller has some very wise words: don't ask 'is it authentic?' ask 'is it good?' This is good.

Take 160g black beans, and soak overnight (about 3 inches water above the beans).

Rinse, and bring beans, covered in about 2 inches of water, 1 tspn bicarb of soda (I think the bicarb is for effect!), a bayleaf, an half an onion with its skin still on (I think that is probably important) and a bayleaf to the boil. Boil for 10 mins vigourously, then reduce and simmer for 45 mins.

When timer goes off, remove beans from heat.

Now, fry some bacon in a fairly deep pan - choose a pan that gets 'crusty' on the bottom when stuff caramelises. 'Some bacon' was in this case interpreted as a handful of pancetta. I expect anything is good. I added half a teaspoon of cumin seed here, but when doing again would add 2 teaspoons.

Chop up the other half an onion, and a VERY large clove of garlic (you have to be a friend of Martin and Annie to source these - I suspect 'some garlic, to taste' is a good alternative).

When bacon is 'done' (getting crispy / bottom of pan is getting crusty) add 1 teaspoon cumin powder (possibly 2 - came out quite mild), stir, and remove everything from the pan that will come out fairly easily - not the fat, but the stuff.

Fry the onion and garlic in the remaining - it needs to get translucent, and the crustyness needs to be good.

Open a can of cooking lager (the kind that is £1 for four pints). Pour a good dash into the onions and garlic, and work your spoon to get the crustyness lifted. Add more lager and work your spoon, repeat, until the crustiness is gone. Add more lager until you have added half a 440ml can. I am still not sure what to do with half a can of cooking lager. One of the few week points in this recipe.

Add a tin of chopped tomatoes.

Strain the beans out, and add them (and the very squeltchy half onion and bay leaf) to the onions/beer/tomatoes. Cook for a while (longer = thicker) - I think I cooked for about half an hour, then ExMemSec came home.

Add the bacon back in, and also some frozen chopped coriander (about a tablespoon) - bravo anyone with fresh coriander hanging around waiting to be used up, this is your chance! Remove the half onion, and squeeze the squeltchyness back into the pan. Taste and season (we went 'oh, no, that's perfect'). If you want real heat, you could put in a tabasco-type sauce, but the cumin is a nice sweet deep heat.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream. There was going to be grated cheese as well, but there wasn't due to it not having survived the journey north. I believe that this is traditionally served over rice, but would also be good with tortilla chips. But good just on its own. The 160g beans was interpreted as 'about right' to make four portions, but this makes 2 portions if you don't have rice or chips.

Said to freeze well, but there wasn't enough to do that ....
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In which Muuranker goes shopping [Feb. 17th, 2013|09:02 pm]

I am now the proud owner of four cans of cooking lager.

I needed some beer to make frijoles negro borrachos (drunk black beans). I have found several recipies for this - ranging from the 'remove the bacon, then fry the coriander seed' to the 'put a can of black beans and a can of tomatoes in a large saucepan, stir and serve' type*, and think I will have to combine them - all, however, require beer (that's how you get them drunk). I will report back on the experiment.

I wonder if, if a minimum unit price for alcohol does come in, I can get a certificate saying that I don't drink beer, only cook with it, and therefore can continue to buy four pints for a pound.

* I have a brilliant chilli recipe of this kind, famous for not having any chillies in it, just cans of varous things, including beer (and an onion, clove of garlic and pepper per person).
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