30 November 2009

Musings from the damp island

It's been an eventful time with my harddrive deciding to develop issues, nothing drastic and I'd done a recent backup, so I don't think I've lost anything. I had a couple of files I'd edited, but couldn't recover the new version of, but meh I'll cope. So I replaced it with a bigger faster one, and damnit, getting to the harddrive in a MacBook Pro is a nightmare. But I managed it, and did a clean install of everything before moving stuff from the old one with a a SATA<-> USB adapter. Yes, much excitement all round.

The big thing last week was that I grabbed a minion and we moved the other half of the couch upstairs, so we've now got a fully functional couch which does couch things. I celebrated this over the weekend by watching three games of rugby, drinking some beer and eating food. And then WWE Survivor series on Sunday, awesome.

I am not thrilled with living in a country where the number 1 selling album is Susan Boyle. I dreamed a dream? FFS, let's hope she gets what happened to the last guy who wittered (twittered?) on about dreams.
Too soon? Hope not.
But in this countries defense, there are some good things. Ok the TV is largely crap, but curling up with a very nice paneer curry, a 2007 Gamay from Park Estate to watch Antiques Roadshow and Top Gear is a good thing.

Off to see Marillion, Tragically Hip and Pineapple Thief this week, and I'm only at work for two days - huzzah. Might manage to fit some beer and scotch in there too.


29 November 2009

Cooking with Bruce : Christmas Pudding

Since there has been some demand for this, I've put on the coffee, watching WWE Survivor Series, and have codified my Xmas Pud recipe.

Note the second bottle of stout is essential, and should be drunk so the left-over from the mix stout can be drunk.

Bruce’s Christmas Pudding

250gm sultanas
250gm currants
250gm raisins
150gm mixed peel
50gm almonds
50gm other nuts lying around
250ml stout
150gm glace cherries chopped
100gm chopped dates
juice of a lemon
juice and peel of a lemon
1/2c brandy
1/2c port
1 small apple peeled and chopped

Open second can of stout, pour into glass, drink.
Mix all and leave overnight in the fridge, or longer if you’re lazy (I am).

Mix together and add to fruit:
300gm brown sugar (or demarara if available)
200gm unsalted butter

3 eggs (beaten)

200gm suet
200gm self raising flour
120gm breadcrumbs
1t cinnamon
1t nutmeg
1t mixed spice

Mix. Add to well greased bowls and steam for about 4-5 hours until the colour goes dark. Makes 2 medium and 1 small puddings.

Love and puddings, B

24 November 2009


first email I read this morning was this, huzzah for misdirected emails!

1.       Working Bee/ Replacement of electrical wiring: The wiring for the irrigation system has now arrived. Roy would like a working bee for next Monday (30th November) at 10.00 am to replace the current wiring. We need at least 12 people with spades/shovels to dig the sand out of the ditches so that the new wiring can be laid. A notice is on the white board at the Club but it would also be appreciated if each of you can notify any members you see who might be available on that Monday. Thanks for your support.

2.       Greens usage:   Roy has advised the Club of an incident lately which is of concern. On Sunday (22/11) the greens were closed due to excessive dampness of the greens. The status of all the greens on the availability board was changed to CLOSED.  When the greens’ staff returned on the afternoon of the 22nd someone had changed the status to open and it was obvious that B green had been used. This is unacceptable and detrimental to good management of the greens. Members are requested to respect the guidelines laid down by the Greens’ Staff so that we may continue to play on greens that are up there with the best in the state.

Those damn bowlers, flipping status boards!! It's armageddon!! Ooohhh maybe some def lep this mornign...

love, B

21 November 2009


Huzzah the blackness, sitting in an English pub with 30+ English supporters, 2 kiwis, and a rather intense test match - not helped by Dan's decision to make life more equal by missing kicks...damn you bloody socialist!
Thought it was a good test match, tense - it was marred by too many mistakes - by both teams. I thought the English did a good job when they kept it in tight - their forward pack certainly stood up for this match. But the problem with teams playing NZ is the sheer speed of their counter attack. They don't need a 5 minute buildup to score, they need broken play and 30s. The brilliance of Richies pass earned him man of the match, and that's ignoring what a blinder he had for the rest of the match.
Unfortunately the English backline wasn't getting the best ball, and didn't seem very organised when they were on attack - but they were attacking which I guess is a step forward.

So we headed home for the Scotland v Aussie game - I was supporting the Scottish out of a sense of blind optimism and love of the spirit. Crickey, what a test. The Scottish defence was superb, an excellent example of dedication and focus - their team doesn't seem to have 'stars' (in the Dan or Richie sense), but as a team, that was an almost perfect example of teamplay. Aussie had, what 70% of ball? maybe more, and yet they couldn't get through. A dour attacking team Scotland maybe, but they were focussed, and throughly deserved that win. Bloody tense last 5 minutes tho. Was this the rebirth of Scottish rugby? It would be nice to think so...

me x

20 November 2009

Music for mornings

I was catching up on my steel mill viewings via youtube this morning, and decided I liked this song the bestest (option 2 was Fear Factory : Bite the hand that feeds).
So today, you get Danzig. I should really get some...

19 November 2009

Cooking with Bruce

Continuing the occasional series of Cooking with Bruce, this time more Italian. I like Italian for the simplicity, speed, and focus on a limited number of ingredients - to emphasise the flavours from each of them.

Tues night I'd gone for an over the top Macaroni cheese, like utterly over the top. Cream, buffalo mozzarella, more cheese, some more cheese, superb. Although I felt a little, well ok a lot, bloated by the end of it.

Last night I went for simplicity, a fettucine and ricotta dish. It was derived from this, but due to my usual cooking style this is what it actually was:
Fettucine - although I didn't quite cook it for long enough which I spanked myself over later

Cook three shallots in about 2T olive oil with chilli and medium heat until nice and soft, dump in some pinenuts to soften them, throw in 200gm (or however much you've got) ricotta, salt, pepper, squeeze juice from half a lemon. Throw in cooked fettucine, serve with parmesan.
Cooking time: 10 minutes.

Me x

14 November 2009

I'm trying to fit in

I'm watching the England v Brazil match (football / soccer).

Sadly for the 22 men on the pitch, they failed to hold my attention as much as Steve Hackett's new album "Out of the Tunnel's Mouth". Which is a little unfair to Steve, as it is a brilliant album. A goal in the football happened about 50mins into the game. That's been about it.
I can see why you'd drink while watching it, there's very little else to do.

I'll keep trying, but I think my football watching days are few and far between - FA Cup finals, and World Cup's is about it I suspect. The Brazilian fans are good to look at, although the camera men aren't as good as the cricket ones. They seem to think the viewers want to watch the match. Pah.

I've moved onto Pendragon's Concerto Maximo (disk 1), which is fun and rocky - and a good reminder of how much fun they were live at Summer's End. But the football has a better chance against them.
This match appears to be a friendly as there's an absence of too many hollywood's. Hmmm maybe I should investigate dinner instead.


13 November 2009

Justin, Journey and Rick

I'm sure at some point this weekend I'll blog more about the UK, it's about time since I've been in the job for a few months...

I was wandering in this morning to the sweet sounds of Justin Timberlake (yes I like him, piss off), and through apathy couldn't be bothered scrolling too far so went for Journey. Ahhh my god it's crap, but such feel good crap. Lyrically, makes prog look good. Well kinda. Ok I gave up after 5 songs, as that's about my limit from the Best-Of, and I wouldn't buy any other album. But fun!!!
So fun in fact, here's a video:

So where does Rick fit into this, and which Rick? Well I do rather like both obvious choices, Wakeman and Astley, so this news item has now done the rounds in the office.

Love, B

10 November 2009

Old Tom

this one is pure unabashed old school reminiscing. We loved this skit as kids, and I was reminded of it the other day when our contractors mentioned they wanted to start a Help page for student PCs - their manager said he was going to call it after their head tech - Tom.
So R and J, bring back the memories...

Ahhh brilliant stuff!

6 November 2009

OMG like free rugby!

hunting around for a what pub would show the NZ v Wales match, I found that rugby - like test match rugger - is free on BBC here. Feckin' A !!

So I'm off tomorrow to stock up on food n booze and then settling in for the Wales match, and then the Aussie v England one. Both with alt commentary.


and go Wellington, kick those sick one eyed bastards,

Love, B

5 November 2009

Whisky: Kilchoman and SMWS

Kilchoman 3yo

Colour: light, straw
Nose: salt, hint of lemon, linament
palate: aniseed, honey, thick (really thick!), sweet, salty aftertaste
finish: medium, salt heat builds near the end and stays, altho kinda empty.

It's a shame this is 46%. Is it a callous attempt to cash in on the hype by bottling more at a lower percentage? I'm wondering if it is, this whisky promises masses and generally delivers, but as a purist I'm left wondering what they've knocked out by diluting. The 2yo and the 1month old new spirits were divine. This is good, but not superb, having said that, it grows on the palate and the honey flavours really come through the more you taste. It is imminently drinkable, and at 35 pounds, a bargain. I think the 16yo lagavulin is better - maybe - but this is certainly better than the BL Rocks. Of the lower percentage Islay's I've had.

SMWS 122.18
I recently joined the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, and as part of their joining pack you receive four small (100ml) bottles. I've just opened the first one, 122.18 Oranges in a coal cellar, a 16yo 57.1% cask.

colour: light gold
Nose: vanilla, salt, citrus
Palate: odd, very odd. Manuka honey, sweet - toffee flavour, quite treacly texture as well.
Finish: warm and lingering, more of the manuka honey, medium length, but some pepper becomes evident later on.

A beautifully balanced whisky, even tho the nose doesn't fit the palate or finish. It's complex, yet reasonably light to drink. Region, hmm I'd guess Highland/Speyside, although it's a bit light for a Highland?  I'd give this one a 10. Honestly, it's superb.
A bit of google work (well ok, it's bookmarked) says this was from Croftengea, the Loch Lomond distillery. Which is a Highland malt. Mmm interesting, and very very tasty. Sadly no more bottles left at the SMWS.

SMWS 28.19

Colour: very pale
Nose: vanilla, very sweet, honey?
Palate: sweet and salty, unripe grapes, heather
Finish: salt increases, strong, and very long, peppery hints increase.

It's no-where near as complex as the one above, and by taste I'd suggest there's a strong coastal aspect. I'm not sure it's an Islay, possibly a bit further up? I only say that cos of the honey flavours.
Not as fascinating as the other, so I'm giving it a 8/10.
So what is it? Ooohhh a Laphroaig, so yes to an Islay, but quite different to other Laphroaig's I've had - and that's the honey.

Love, B

Reasons to still be in science

Articles such as this one:
Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time
Min Tan, Gareth Jones, Guangjian Zhu, Jianping Ye, Tiyu Hong, Shanyi Zhou, Shuyi Zhang, Libiao Zhang

Who knew eh?

2 November 2009

Twitter - saviour or sinner?

Twitter was launched with very little idea what it was, what it hoped to become, or indeed how to use it. The concept of sending 140 character updates to friends, relatives, stalkers etc., was generally derided as 'something for the young'. In the same way text speak is derided by people who don't text.

This didn't stop Twitter. And one of the selling points was that anyone could sign up to receive your tweets, absolute strangers could hear what you had for breakfast, and why the dog decided to rub mud into your best jersey. Or, if you believe the nay-sayers, why XXX was like a total bitch on Saturday and you'll like never talk to her again.

Twitter began to get more interesting during the Iranian elections, and subsequent protests over the legitimacy of them. The mass protests and information from the left-wing bodies was co-ordinated and disseminated using twitter, proving mass information could be delivered quickly and cheaply. The other advantage was the ability of Twitter to 'tag' similar information, so that even if some users were shut down, others could continue the message.
All well and good, and indeed a good example of grass roots democracy.
Not so good was watching US senators tweeting during debates. I think, if I were American, I'd like my elected representatives to be paying a little more attention to what I'd elected them to do.

But the point of this blog are two recent incidents of twittersphere. One, the breaking down of the injunction from Trafigura on reporting their rather dodgy behaviour when 'disposing' of dangerous chemicals. The Guardian was blocked from reporting who put the injunction in, what the gag was about, who asked the question - everything relevant to the topic. Tweeters found out the info by looking through reports, and disseminated all the info - and Private Eye published it. This proves to be an excellent demonstration of how democracy should work, as the injunction was not in the public interest.
The other example is the Daily Mail's column about Stephen Gately by Jan Moir (summary here), where she managed to piss off a large number of people. This number was increased by tweets and indeed a focus to 'trend' her as one of the days most tweeted topics. Which was successful, leading to many more complaints including threats and publishing her home address.
Not such a great example of democracy.

I find both these examples concerning. Although on the surface the first one is a good example of democracy in action, both of them are, in essence, rapid mobs. People do not stop to consider things, and will generally follow like sheep if (A) says 'this is bad, tell everyone' then most people if they have some form of interest/relationship with (A) will do what they say. This rapidly leads to mob action and the more people, the more inclusive, the more they feel 'righteous'. That's not democracy, that's gang thinking. Or to keep it local, football hooligan mentality.
I have no idea what can be done to solve this, and it's not simply a case of asking people to think before they tweet, or getting those with hundreds of followers to consider implications. As that just won't work. People when annoyed won't think - but that sets off chain reactions.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I'm very concerned at the uncontrolled power of twitter.