So, we're going to this Steamunk Ball at Eastercon. Oddly enough, none of my SCA gear is really appropriate. I don't think my sewing skills are up to more formal garb, so I've opted for being a mad explorer/vampire hunter, or something like that. Khaki shorts & shirt, pith helmet, some kind of mad gun (still in construction) and, of course, there have to be goggles.

I'm not sure why, it just seems to be one of those things. There have to be goggles. The only goggles I own are the basic safety goggles I have to wear on site. which look very dull.

One cheap pair of Speedo swimming goggles, a 2nd-hand change purse and a belt from charity shops, a little bit of work with scalpel, paintbrush and glue later...

Not safe for people with taste... )
I just had the urge to make garlic soup (apologies to any of my vampire friends)... I looked at a couple of recipes but then decided just to make it up as I went along.

  • 4 heads of garlic

  • 1 onion

  • 1 potato

  • 1 Tbs plain flour

  • Smoked paprika

  • Ground ginger

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • 1 tsp finely chopped coriander (cilantro)

  • Butter

  • Olive oil

  • Vegetable stock

  • Worcestershire sauce

  • Couple of thick slices of bread

  • Garlic salt

  • Gruyere of Emmental cheese, grated.

Slice three of the garlic heads in two horizontally (leaving skin on). Place face down in a baking dish with olive oil. Brush or spray the outside of the bulbs with a little oil. Plce in oven at 180C for 40 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, finely chop the onion. Peel and finely chop the cloves of the remaining bulb. Peel and finely dice the potato.

When the roasted garlic is done, remove it from the oven and let it cool (unless you have asbestos fingers). When they are cool enough to handle, remove all the skins. Mash the softened cloves up with a spoon, and mash in the flour with the spices (paprika and ginger anyway).

Melt a knob of butter and add a splash of olive oil. Fry the onions until they are starting to colour (or more, if you like it darker). Just as they start to colour, add the raw garlic. Stir until softened.

Turn down the heat and stir in the flour/garlic mix. Let it cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly. Slowly add the stock, keep stirring. I had a little under 2L of stock - depends how thick of thin you like it. Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. After about 5 minutes, add the potatoes. Put the lid on and simmer for 20 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, cut the bread into cubes, sprinkle with the garlic salt and lightly fry (or bake) until golden.

I whisked mine in the saucepan a bit, which broke up the potato a bit more. You can put it in a blender if you like it smoother. Or use a hand blender in the saucepan.

Add the lemon juice and coriander to the soup, stir, wait a few minutes and taste, adding salt and pepper as required, taste and adjust as suits your preference. Simmer gently for 10 more minutes.

Serve with the croutons and some grated cheese.

If I may say so myself, it tasted good.
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Come on, wouldn't you give a few marks just for the creative answer?
Last night was spent in the delightful company of my friends Drs S & J, well, mostly Dr S. We spent much of it with assorted bugs flying round our faces, landing in our hair and on our arms. In a pleasant rural garden, standing around a white-cloth covered table, illuminated by pale blue, actinic light.

It was moth hunting time again. We did pretty well, bagging 29 varieties. Some pretty, some quite dull in appearance, but all good fun as we peered through the books... "No, look, it had the white speck at the point of the forewing... Hmmm, that brown band is quite wide... Valerian Pug? No, wrong time of year, and it's too small.... how about Currant Pug... yeah, that could be it..."

My favourites - the Magpie and the Black Arches, just for the splendid markings, and the Sallow Kitten for just looking cute & furry.

I left there around 02:30 and drove home by the light of a gibbous moon...

It's a fun way to spend the night.

Edit: Forgot the Brimstone Moth - added at the end.

Taxon Vernacular
Pandemis corylana Chequered Fruit-tree Tortrix
Pleuroptya ruralis Mother of Pearl
Idaea aversata Riband Wave
Xanthorhoe spadicearia Red Twin-spot Carpet
Epirrhoe alternata Common Carpet
Eupithecia centaureata Lime-speck Pug
Eupithecia assimilata Currant Pug
Abraxas grossulariata Magpie Moth
Macaria alternata Sharp-angled Peacock
Peribatodes rhomboidaria Willow Beauty
Cabera exanthemata Common Wave
Furcula furcula Sallow Kitten
Notodonta dromedarius Iron Prominent
Euproctis similis Yellow-tail
Lymantria monacha Black Arches
Eilema griseola Dingy Footman
Eilema complana Scarce Footman
Spilosoma luteum Buff Ermine
Phragmatobia fuliginosa Ruby Tiger
Agrotis puta Shuttle-shaped Dart
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder
Noctua pronuba Large Yellow Underwing
Noctua janthe Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing
Xestia c-nigrum Setaceous Hebrew Character
Mythimna albipuncta White-point
Mythimna pallens Common Wainscot
Mesoligia furuncula Cloaked Minor
Paradrina clavipalpis Pale Mottled Willow
Autographa gamma Silver Y
Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth
Our Dahlia has produced its first bloom...

And the mysterious shrub in the centre is sort of flowering...

Pictures and questions below... )
I was flicking through the channels on the satellite, trying to see if there was anything on that wasn't a repeat of the Trek/CSI/L&O franchises and came across a programme called "Generation Sex", which appeared to be a vox pop/ + celebrity cameo documentary/magazine programme on what the younger generation do for kicks[1].

I caught the tail end of a discussion on juggling multiple (but not simultaneous) partners, then they went into a teaser for the next segment (after the break), which would be about looking into the future of sex. Cut to a preview with some uncaptioned blonde woman giving her opinion on future sex...

"Oh, I don't know. Given that 10 years ago, lap-dancing clubs were illegal, and now they are commonplace. The next thing will be drive-thru blow jobs..."

To which my immediate thought was "Wouldn't the steering wheel get in the way?"

My name is Ian and I am an engineer...

[1] Which I can't imagine is vastly different from my generation, aside, possibly from the slang[2]
[2] I couldn't be bothered to carry on watching, but from a what I learned Googling the show, it is likely I could have found out what "snowballing" was[3] and which D-lister had indulged in it[4].
[3] No, I didn't Google the term. I don't need, or want, to know[5]
[4] As if I cared. I really don't need to know what any celebrity does in bed[6]
[5] No, really. If you know, please don't tell me.
[6] Unless they are doing it to me[7], in which case, so long as I enjoy it, I don't care what it is called, except in so far is would be shorthand for "Hey, I really liked it the other night, when you did that, you know, that thing... with the ... and the ... and the teabag[10]. Could you do it again?[8]"
[7] The chances of any celebrity doing anything in bed with me are extremely remote, unless maybe the descendants of LWT decide to do a remake of Pillow Talk AND I do something remotely noteworthy for me to be interviewed in bed by Emma Freud [9]
[8] Or possibly for "Hell No! It's called what? I didn't know that existed and wish I still didn't."
[9] Which might be no bad thing, I seem to recall she was quite smart and attractive.
[10] I really, really hope I made that bit up. If there is a fetish involving teabags, I would really rather not know[11]
[11] But then, Fetish Quantum Mechanics states that any conceivable fetish which can be invented or conceived already exists on the Internet, and may have been brought into existence simply by a person thinking of it. [12]
[12] And if it now does[13], I apologise for my role in bringing it into existence.
[13] I daren't Google it now[14]
[14] Actually, that could be the next thing after the Googlewhack - trying to find a combination of "unlikely object/substance/person" and "fetish" that doesn't return at least one hit on Google.
We don't have a huge garden. When we moved in, the front yard had a heather bush, an unidentified shrub and grass. I have to admit to some level of neglect. The grass didn't get cut often, and soon became weed-infested. A couple of years ago, I got fed up with this and dug it all up, except for the shrub, the heather, and a small conifer that I don't even remember planting. The front half, I resolved to cover in green stuff like chamomile and thyme - low maintenance ground cover. The back half, nearest the house, I covered in bark chips and we planted an assortment of herbs in pots. Handy for the kitchen.

I added an Acer[1], because I have always wanted one of those. Some bastard stole it overnight. I replaced it and chained this one to the fence. It survived. The fence at the front edge broke when I sat on it, so I planted some Hebes instead to make a sort of hedge-like boundary.

More recently, we found that the Chamomile and Thyme weren't giving the ground cover we wanted. [ profile] silme did a lot of weeding and then planted lots of Woodruff.

Other than that, we haven't really done much to it until the last few weeks. The back yard has been largely taken up with trying plant stuff we can eat - raspberries, vegetables etc, but we didn't do much more to the front.

We recently went to the village of Chawton, where they were having an open day, with people opening their gardens to the public. Something happened then. Aside from house and garden envy. It started with Lamb's Ear, a plant with really soft, furry leaves that [ profile] silme really liked. I thought it would be nice to get some to break up the greenery in the front bit. They didn't have any on sale, but we bought some other plants while we were there. Things kind of snowballed from there....

Cut for photos and stuff )
KitKat came into our lives a little over a year ago. She belonged to a friend who had to go to the States for a year or more, so we agreed to take her in.

She was scared at first, and spent a lot of time hiding under the futon and other places she could be unseen, but after a while, she started to come out and explore.

She had been raised with a dog, but never other cats, so there were frequent disputes with Abigail & Ezra, but that settled down to the occasional his.

She was very vocal at times, and would suddenly miaow loudly, even in the middle of the night, for no apparent reason. For this reason, I started to nickname her Squeak, or Squeaky Girl.

She bonded with me, and became somewhat of a constant companion while I was working at my computer. I know many of my friends have received Instant Messages resembling "jhhjkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk44kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkm" where she would walk on the keyboard. When she wasn't doing that, she would sit behind the monitor and I would just see her nose and eyes watching me from under it.

A couple of months ago, we took her to the vet. She was due her jabs, and she had been losing weight and drinking. She was diagnosed with a hyperactive thyroid. There may have been kidney problems too, but it was difficult to tell because the thyroid problems often mask kidney results. We put her on medication for the thyroid to see how things went. A month later, her thyroid levels were down, and the kidney results seemed good, but again, it was hard to tell for sure. So, we continued with the meds, to see if it would bring the thyroid levels down far enough. A couple of weeks ago, we noticed she had a bleed in her eye. The vet said it was high blood pressure, and gave her some blood pressure meds to bring that down, recommending we get the surgery done in a couple of weeks. We had her booked in for Wednesday.

I worked last night. KitKat was a little slow this morning, but she took food and her meds. This afternoon, when [ profile] silme got home, she picked her up - she was labouring for breath, and when we put her down again, she could barely stand (though she had walked around in the morning, between me getting home and going to bed). I got an emergency appointment at the vets. When he examined her, her heart rate was really slow, and her pupils were all wrong. He diagnosed a stroke, and probably a blood clot in the lungs. There was nothing more we could do, so we had to have her put to sleep.

It's hard, very hard, to make that decision about any animal, especially one that had become part of the family. Even harder that I wasn't able to consult with her owner, having only an email address as contact. I'm sure she would have agreed that this was the right thing to do.

I'll miss her. I'll miss the random squeaks, and the random acts of typing, and her nose peeping at me from under the monitor. And I'm sad for her owners, who haven't seen her in over a year, and now, never will again.

Rest in Peace, KitKat. May there always be cream, and a sunny spot, and things to chase.

Thanks to [ profile] yendi and others for sharing this...

From a book called Silk and Steel by Ron Miller


Do not be drinking...

Random Quote:

Her face had the fragrance of a gibbous moon. The scent of fresh snow. Her eyes were dark birds in fresh snow. They were the birds' shadows, they were mirrors; they were the legends on old charts. They were antique armor and the tears of dragons. Her brows were a raptor's sharp, anxious wings. They were a pair of scythes. Her ears were a puzzle carved in ivory. Her teeth were her only bracelet; she carried them within the red velvet purse of her lips. Her tongue was amber. Her tongue was a ferret, an anemone, a fox caught in the teeth of a tiger.
We got the season opener of the new season of Bones tonight - the one set in a rather strange foreign country that was supposed to be England.

I am pretty certain it was meant to be England. The producers did their best to make sure that we knew that. There were more establishing shots of Big Ben[1] than in a month's worth of News at Ten. Oh, and throw in the odd London bus, black cab and shots of Tower Bridge, just in case we didn't get it. Yes, we are definitely in somebody's idea of London. Oh, and Oxford - dreaming spires, forensic labs in gracefully vaulted cellars, young people with scarves and impeccable accents.

Oh yes, the accents. We are in England, so everybody had a proper English accent. By proper, of course, we mean, wouldn't sound out of place in an adaptation of a Jane Austen novel. Even the Scotland Yard detective sounded more like she should be delivering lines like "Do you deny it, Mr Darcy?" than ordering Booth not to use his gun. It makes s change from the usual portrayal of detectives, but it stretched credibility. Not a working class accent to be heard anywhere, unless you count the assorted taxi drivers yelling "wanker" at Booth or the background dialogue of the fire-fighters. Those, of course, were proper London accents a la Alfred Doolittle.

So, we have the very well-spoken girlfriend of the American property developer, the young aristocrat who may have "knocked up" his daughter (the American's daughter that is - we get to the potential incest later), a Duke & Duchess who find the Americans rude and boorish, the gentleman's gentleman butler (who allegedly "did it" - or, at least, claimed to have done it to protect his master - we never did resolve that one), the horny Oxford don, a couple of Oxford students... Yes, a truly representative sample of the British people.

We also have some ludicrous plot-lines - Brits drive very small cards, so Booth has to have a small car so we can do jokes about not being able to drive a small car. How in hell did Booth end up renting a Mini? OK, maybe you might, if you tried hard, get the new Mini at some rental companies that specialised in compacts, but a classic Mini Cooper with a 1990 registration??? You don't get that from the rental booths at Heathrow. And I can't imagine Booth settling for anything smaller than the pantechnicon he normally drives. He surely couldn't have been trying to save the FBI money, since they were clearly staying in a hotel with a uniformed doorman.

Then there was the pointless red herring of the man from the other rowing team who may have decked the Oxford don for sleeping with his sister (the rower's sister, not the don's, we have already resolved the potential incest issue by now), which seemed to be there purely to set up the "palace guards aren't allowed to react to people trying to make them react" gag....

I still can't make up my mind. Is this what the producers think we are, or are they just playing to what they think the average American thinks we are?

Ah well, it was mildly amusing, even if the sub-plot about the ex-husband was a bit silly - presumably setting up for future plot lines later. Let us hope the writers do a better job once they are on familiar ground.

[1] Technically, the Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, aka the Houses of Parliament. Big Ben is the nickname of the main bell, however, the majority of people use the name to refer to the whole tower and the clock. I'll bet the script said "Ext: Big Ben..."
Anybvody know what UDP port 13075 is for? My router has sent me 30 logs so far this morning (normally sends one an hour, or when it gets to a certain size), and they all seem to be probes at that port. Haven't found anything on Google, apart from reference to something called Control-M
When [ profile] silme's alarm went off this morning, it was during the middle of the news bulletin, presumably an item about the "teething troubles" at Heathrow's new Terminal 5. A spokesperson was quoted as saying "Obviously, there will be some soul searching at BAA[2] today".

My response was - "it's probably lost with all the baggage"

[1] See my comment yesterday about life at the airport[4]. An extra prize for anybody who knows why I chose Murmansk.

[2] 34 flights cancelled by 2pm, baggage not being loaded, or going astray, planes sitting on the tarmac for 3 hours waiting for baggage to be loaded because the computer system thought they had already left...

[3] British Airports Authority - the company that owns and runs the airports. Except it isn't British any more, being owned by Spanish group Ferrovial

[4] I hasten to add, none of the teething problems related to the work I was doing at the airport on Tuesday & Wednesday
We had one of those days recently. One of those days that are sort of wet; where there seems to be more spray from the road than there is actual rain. One of those days when you run out of screen-wash very rapidly.

Also one of those days when the car, at least, the back and front, become very, very dirty. So dirty that I could have been stopped by the police because my license plate was so dirty, you couldn't read it. I wiped it off, but the rest of the tailgate was black. Never mind, there is always the car wash.

In the last couple of days, I have found this impossible.

Today, I tried two in Lymington - they were both out of order.

In the last couple of days, I tried one other, only to be told it was out of order, two more I passed by because they had big "Out of Order" signs on, and another I didn't try because it was all dark, with no lights on at all.

Guess washing the car over the holidays is just one of those things you don't do.
The great storm of 1987 has been all over the TV and newspapers lately - it being 20 years ago today. Various of the news websites, like the BBC, have been asking for people's memories.

One particular memory I have probably wasn't suited to the BBC.

At the time, I was staying with my girlfriend in Tooting. She shared the flat with a couple - L & H. The morning after the storm, L had just got up, and was looking out of the window at the devastation - trees, chimney pots etc, all over the street. Behind her, H (a man very prone to, and proud of his flatulence), woke up, stretched, and announced in his mellifluous Welsh voice:

"Ooh, I did a tremendous fart last night!"

L, still staring at the wreckage of the street - "Yes, it looks like you did"
While I was wandering around the deserted Docklands Light Railway on Saturday, I noticed that the PIDS (Passenger Information Display System - did you spot my insider jargon there?) was advising people of the limited service.

"There will be no service between .... this weekened"

Whenever I've quoted for those systems, the software only allowed announcements to be made from predefined words and phrases, but clearly not this time.
The current ad for Cadbury's Dairy Milk is all over You Tube - here, for example. Over the opening of "Something In The Air Tonight", we see an ape sitting at a drum kit. For the first minute, it does nothing, other than seeming to psych itself up for the entry of the drum track, then, it plays the drums. That's it. No mention of chocolate, taste, etc, other than the traditional "glass and a half" slogan on a purple background. So far as I recall, the song has nothing to do with chocolate. So why? Given how many times it is on You Tube, maybe it's one of those viral marketing things.

Either that, or they are trying to imply Phil Collins is an ape. Mind you, I bet he wishes he had that much hair :)
Maybe it's just me becoming an old fart, but there's something a little distasteful about the current Mastercard advert on the TV over here...

Assorted children, presumably in response to parental unit failing to make it to sports day, school play, home in time for dinner etc, dismiss said parental unit with "Dad, you're fired/sacked"

Except for the last one, who rescinds the sacking when parental unit waves a brochure for a £450 sailing trip.

Apparently, money can you you love after all.
There was a continental market in Bournemouth today. Somewhat disappointing, to be honest. It seems to be the same four stalls every time - biscuits & dried fruit; cheese; sausages and scented soaps.

In among the soaps, the stall was selling other bits - sponges, and pumice stones. These latter were labelled as "No[sic] tested on animals" and "100% biodegradable"

That's good to know, I thought, then did the double-take...

"100% biodegradable??????" It's a rock!! I suppose if you wait a few hundred years on a wave-swept beach...

Meanwhile, a shoe shop had a sign advertising "buy one, get one free" As I said to [ profile] silme at the time - "Yeah, buy the left foot, we'll throw in the right foot free"