31 May 2008

Sometimes my fridge surprises me

The typical, "oh no - what can I take for lunch" issue was resolved after spotting some bulgar wheat and other vitals for tabouleh (and some instant tabouleh i had lying around for some reason) including some spring onions, tomatoes, cheese (camembert as it was nice and soft and in the fridge) and avocado - dealt to lunch quite nicely.

This evening, as I still haven't gotten around to going food shopping, I discovered white sauce can be made with grapeseed oil, not butter. Result!


29 May 2008

Young guns, having some fun...

there's danger in emotional ties.

It's Whisky Review Time again. This month Regional Wines put on a tasting of young whisky's, nothing over 8 years. Here's the lineup along with my notes:
Hazelburn 8yo x3 distilled 46% unpeated : raisin dry nose, very sweet muscatel taste, med long finish. nice, but nothing special. 7/10
Dun Bheagan single malt Speyside 43% unchill filtered : sweet sultana nose ?sherry, quite a ginger flavour, short-med finish - a bit light in taste/finish, 7/10
Signatory Islay 5 yo 58.4% no chill/colour : huge nose, smelt young, overtones of petrol in nose, turps/phenol flavour, short finish 6/10
Kilchoman New Spirit Islay 1 month old Bourbon/sherry 63.5% 50ppm phenol Optic Barley 06.12.06 : OMG this was something fascinating nose: turps, salty, phenol disgusting; palate god knows how to describe it, everything in there wow; finish: my notes say 'fascinating, mind blowing'. 8.5/10
Ledaig Provenance Spring 97-Spring 05 2 refill hogsheads DMG1767-1768 46% no chill/colour : bacon/iodine phenol nose, orange light flavour, medium peppery finish. 5/10 (yeah didn't like this one)
Laphroaig finished in quarter cask 48% non chill filtered : nice, fruity, sweet vanilla nose, soapy salty taste, very smokey long finish. 7/10
Ardbeg Still Young 56.2% 1998-2006 no chill filter : smokey/ash islay sweet nose, bacon/salty flavour, and long finish 9/10.

No major surprises there, looking at the line-up I'd have picked the Ardbeg as the best. Shame you can't get hold of them at the moment :(

What was really interesting was the Kilchoman new spirit. Daniel and Regional had managed to get 30 minitures of the new spirit (can't be called whisky until its been aged 3 years). The smell was over the top - but the taste was fascinating. It also polarised our tasting with a lot of people failing it, and Nick and I going my god, this is incredible. All of the traditional whisky flavours were in there, hidden, but the more you let it roll around in the mouth the more they came through. It is obviously an Islay even at this age ! I'm really looking forward to seeing what this distillery will produce when they come of age - which apparently is 2011 - when a 5yo will be released. There's a couple of us thinking of going in on that here...actually Daniel might be keen too...


28 May 2008

Back to movie reviews

It is bloody cold, I'm curled up in bed. And I'm cold...but I do have the sublime new Pineapple thief album keeping me company.

Indiana Jones 4: yeah it's fun. Oh you want more? right, Ford doesn't look too old for most of the movie, it rocks along nicely (mostly), for a script in gestation for 20 years it's a bit loose. the snappy dialogue is there, and Ford's laconic drawl is still great. As some reviewers have said, it might be Speilberg's best looking movie for sometime, for someone known as a visual director in his early days - things went haywire during the big period. But there are some quite nice shots in this movie suggesting he hasn't totally lost it. Rating? eh, meaningless fun a cut above generic hollywood action fodder so 3/5.

Kinsey a biopic of Alfred Kinsey who did a lot of studies on human sexuality in the US. Kinsey is a really important figure in our understanding of human sexual behaviour, seeing as for most of the last century no-one spoke of it. There's some amusing examples of the misunderstandings on sexuality used in the movie, including classics such as (from a female) no i don't masturbate I heard it causes problems with babies (i'm paraphrasing). Liam Neeson, as Kinsey, is superb. It's been awhile since I saw an actor so completely nail a performance and hold the entire movie together so well. The movie briefly details his early work (on insects), his 'interesting' persuit of the woman (who you get the impression was really the power behind Kinsey's throne), and his subsequent all-consuming interest in human sexuality. I found it really interesting, well written (by the guy who did gods and monsters) and it's worth seeing for Neeson's performance alone. 4.5/5.


27 May 2008

As the Chem's say

I'm not OK. This is not a cry for help. I think I need to emphasise that given where I think this blog is going. I'm sick of my research. And not only because it took 9 months to get feedback. I am prepared to name and shame, but I struggle to see the point. I was asked, post submission, to finish some research, I did that. I sent it to the person asked to help me with the section in question. That I did 2.5 to 3 weeks ago. I emphasised how pressed I was with time. Make any difference? Fuck no.
And that, as I see it, is it. I've had enough. If I don't get feedback by Thurs/Fri I will be quitting. I have written my resignation letter, if one can call it that given it's effectively volunteer work.
I realise many of you will trot out the usual cliches of 'but you're so close', 'but frances would want you to finish', 'but it seems a waste of X many years'. Yes, I've heard them. And as much as I respect your opinion, I don't care. I've been listening to them for sometime. And all it's achieved, as far as I can tell, is to make me more stressed, grumpy, and directionless. This time I think I need to take charge. I've been thinking of this for some time, what affects it has had on me, how I see my life going, and what I want to achieve.

Basically I'm struggling to see a career in science. I'd love one, sure. But I don't see it happening, I'm pissy, grumpy and largely disillusioned. I love teaching, in fact I had an ex-student come up to me last week who I'd said on his essay go see the student support services, as he couldn't write a sentence. He did, he went to a writing course, and is now getting A's in his essays. It was quite moving, suggesting I am good at what I do. My course evaluations would support that.
But there is little work in my field, and I want to leave the country.

In addition I've had couple of job offers in IT which interest me. I have turned down one of them and am waiting for the other to be offered publicly. They both pay well and are basically rewriting doco, and managing web content - both of which I find interesting. And it will travel.

Rather than leaving this as a look at me, i'm so fucking emo type post. I've thought about this and have come to these conclusions:
* I need to exercise more, I've been walking in and home again, but that's not enough. Need to swim every other day, or at least a bike ride, which reminds me I need to get some lights
* I am going to give the person charged with commenting on my writing til Thurs/Fri before I submit my resignation
* I have some training lined up for my tech doco writing
* Aiming to discuss potential work/training with three highly placed IT managers I know


18 May 2008

All in all a productive weekend

To summarise my surprisingly productive weekend:
* marked a lot of essays
* drank a very nice wine last night made from the gamay noir grape - maybe more details on that later
* did some shopping at the supermarket
* made a carrot cake with cream cheese icing for the early-morning-blondes-belated-birthday
* made a chocolate and raspberry cake, with a lot of dark chocolate, butter, raspberries slowly cooked and thickened and cream cheese - looks very very nice - that's for our final meeting for the course. Yeah teh recipe had cherries, but I couldn't find any, hence the raspberries.
* read some newspaper
* found some artist info for Rich and his 48hr movie shooting thing
* drank too much coffee
* cleaned the house
* curled up with some echinacea fruit stuff and watching bones
* I'm thinking dinner will be some toasted 5 grain Pandoro, with aioli, poached egg and salmon
* later tonight, some BostonLegal and Mighty Boosh.
* listened to the ActiveFM jazz show and then the Americana show, followed by Porcupine Tree's new 5.1 mix of Lightbulb Sun.

Not very manly when I review that. But I've enjoyed today, relaxing and yet very productive.


17 May 2008

The Weekend Beer Review

These were drunk on Friday, but I ended up marking all yesterday hence the delay.
Greene King IPA. I've had a soft spot for Greene King brews for years, I've even got *quite* drunk watching Stanley Cup finals drinking it off tap. Mmmm happy.
It's a bloody nice ale. It's not perfect, but its refreshing, tasty, goes down very very easy. A really good introduction to a good ale. 
Fullers ESB (Extra Special Bitter). I've never been that taken with Fullers, but picked this up cos I like the blue on the label. Glad I did. Great beer, it's won the CAMRA award a few times. Definitely recommend this, lovely back taste to it.

Sorry its so brief :)


15 May 2008

House smells good

It's been awhile since I made any chutney or preserves, but the glut of feijoa's I'd ended up with meant I had to do something. And the offer of another bag from the early-morning-coffee-blonde kinda sealed the deal.
This recipe has been adapted from one of mine, a couple off the web, and ingredients I had available...
1kg feijoas (scale recipe to what you've got), .5kg onions, about 1cm of fresh ginger grated, 1c sultanas, 1c brown sugar, 1t ground cloves, 1.5t curry powerder, 1t tumeric, 1T salt, .5L malt vinegar.
throw all into a pot. bring to boil, simmer until thick. bottle. tricky innit. oh for bottles, i used to clean mine in Na Bisulphate cos I had some around for brewing, but now I just wash them in hot water then bake them for an hour at 80-100C in the oven.

leave for a couple of weeks, then buy some good cheese and bread (or crackers) and eat.


13 May 2008

La Boheme

Last night another brunette and I wandered along to Puccini's La Boheme. It's surprising how hard it is to find people who want to go to the opera, or rather how many pop up *after* the event and say, oh I want to go to an opera...ballet and symphonies, no problems. Opera? issues. Not helped by the aged nature of the audience, jeez old people make a lot of odd noises.

So anyway, to drag myself away from a rant about old people at concerts, the basic plot revolves around the usual: boy meets girl, fall in love, some comedic relief by others (also in love), girl poorly, death. A more detailed summary can be found here. So what made this one good/great?

The stage direction and design was superb. The opera is traditionally set in a Parisian student quarter of 1830. This one was transplanted to a student flat in contemporary time, and it worked. Brilliantly. there's an interview with the designer in the Listener here. I've seen a DVD version in the traditional setting, and the transplant brought it to life much much better. I felt more empathy for the characters, I've lived in those places, I've been cold, I've had flats where we all held out for one us to get paid (or student loans). The opera is full of pathos to start with, but somehow this brought out more from the characters. The two main leads were superb, in particular Mimi played by Antoinette Halloran had a fantastic voice, and the interaction between her and Jesus Garcia who played Rudolfo was great. At times I thought the musicians weren't sympathetic enough to the singers, and at times the music was a bit ragged. I can see why a friend of mine a couple of years ago sent me some lyrics from La Boheme.

Overall? Excellent. Moving, interesting and brilliantly staged opera. I can see why purists would grumble, but TBH fuck'em, this worked, and it made it more interesting because of it. Realistically those purists are going to be dying off (judging by the age of the audience) and half of em wouldn't be able to see the stage anyway...

Oh, and there were vinyls in the flat, and vinyls in the market! and Rudolfo has a Mac PowerBookPro.

Capped off by a nice lemonade (no really!) at Midnight, since Simply Paris was closed.


10 May 2008

The Weekend Beer Review

Yeah so I've been working most of the day so not much beer tonight. And nothing exciting cos I couldn't get down to Regional, so stopped into the local dairy. 
I'm sipping chilli beer, Cave Creek Chilli Beer the guy at the shop said it was very hot. It's not. It's got a nice tang to it, and its cheap ($3.80 NZ per bottle at a dairy suggests its cheap!). I'd drink it again, possibly with nachos or some such radical thinking.
I have a Guinness too, not much point reviewing that.
Am watching John Rambo for meaningless relaxation after a couple episodes of Mighty Boosh S3. Rambo is an *actor* he is *emoting*, but thankfully not as much as Rocky V, more violence which is working for me.

My brain is mush.


9 May 2008

BigBang Theory

'tis a cold wet day outside, which explains my inside writing plan. That's working out nicely, but it's elevenses, so sipping coffee and listening to SFScotts new album. Beautiful stuff. I've spun the new no-man and Robert Plant/Alison Krauss so it's been a very chilled morning... 

I've been enjoying the new CBS sitcom "BigBang Theory" which revolves around the lives of physics post-docs and a hot babe next door. Sound dreary? yeah you'd think, but it's actually funny and incorporates particularly intelligent physics jokes. Their scientific advisor is a experimental particle physicist from UCLA, and the current edition of Science has a review of the show here. What hooked me was the line from the first or second episode"That's my work. It's just some quantum mechanics. A little string theory doodling around the edges. That part there--that's just a joke. It's a spoof of the Born-Oppenheimer approximation.
So if it ever reaches NZ, do watch it. It's cute, funny and relaxed. YouTube links for excerpts here.


7 May 2008

Wrestling - somewhat delayed

yeah I know I said I'd post some pictures of Dr Diablo rocking out the fat moves for his PhD in Pain. But y'know, I got distracted ... anyway Martin and I had a fun night, it's cheap, fun, sadly sober and good way to spend a few hours. 
The good Doctor was tag-teaming and sadly had his ass whupped. Oh well, the audience enjoyed it ! 
I took a few pictures as MacDaddy and Scotty2Hotty were unable to make it. 

Firstup: The Setup

I used to have a chest:

Wondering if the mask has padding:



4 May 2008


So I'm writing, I managed to get in before the jazz show on Active started. And it was good and I was productive. And now it's the Americana show, and they've started with two tracks from Once Upon a Time in the West (Morricone). Oh baby. yeah. And just to pop any remaining cherry, it's from vinyl. 

Did Nancy Sinatra record anything else other than Bang Bang and These Boots? You wouldn't think so given what gets played everywhere. Oh well, I guess I should be used to that what with Marillion and their stereotyping by *that* track.

Americana show finished now, had coffee with Blonde-the-younger who dropped in. Back to looking at pictures.

me x

3 May 2008

Bruce's Weekend Beer Report

Written under the influence of beer, wine, and a particularly nice dinner.

First up: the new Epic Lager. Epic Pale Ale has won the NZ beer competition a few times (cannae be arsed checking how many) and its bloody marvellous. Deservedly one of our best beers, hoppy, tasty, quaffable - divine. Now Epic have released a lager. And your less than sober scribe can report, it's also bloody marvellous. Reasonably hoppy (for a lager anyway), dry (for a NZ lager) and quaffable. In fact, I would suggest it's the best lager I've tried from a NZ brewer. More info from the brewer here. I want more. I think I'll get more. Maybe I'll get some Ale too. Then I can have an ale/lager party - it'll be EPIC! Sorry.

The other beer was the Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA. Interesting, certainly not the best IPA I've ever had, but I'd certainly drink more more of it. It's described on various sites as citrusy, but I got more raspberries from it - almost a hint of Belgian fruit beer in there. Poured nicely - pretty amber colour - not much head, not much carbonation. Went down easy, always a good sign. Claimed on the bottle as quite hoppy, but no-where near as much as the Epic's. I've enjoyed the Belhaven's I've drunk, not great beers but certainly good - better off tap, but I'm a bit stuck here. Have to head back and find some...

Luvs and slainte mhath, B