March 30, 2006

Over the last week or two, I indulged some feelings of Australian nostalgia and made some fairy bread and some chocolate crackles.

The fairy bread was for Louise's birthday, a surprise party with a kiddy theme. I bought a fresh unsliced loaf of bread and cut fairly chunky slices, smeared them thickly with (salted) butter and then inverted them onto a side plate full of hundreds and thousands, which are available in every supermarket, even the tiny Sainsbury's around the corner. Seems the English are well into their cake decorating. The result was pure simple carbs, with a nice balance of saturated fat, and amped me right up. I can not handle my sugar.

Last night I made chocolate crackles, for no particular occasion other than that I had finally remembered to buy icing sugar. Chocolate crackles would not be nice without icing sugar. Now, usually they need Copha, but as far as I can tell, and as I have written before, you just can't buy Copha in this country. I am going to London on Saturday though, so might check out the Australian Shop. Also, Ed says that there is some Indian product that sounds similar. However, he also thinks it's for oiling up your hair, not cooking. I made do with a block of vegetable fat called Cookeen that I found in that tiny Sainsbury's. It tasted like candles instead of coconuts, but was the right consistency and almost the right taste. Everybody at work loved the result, a lot, not knowing any better. In actual fact, they tasted funny. Each chocolate crackle contains 10 g of fat so I won't be repeating the performance too soon, but they could be a good trademark effort for birthdays etc. Yummy!



March 30, 2006

My boyfriend and I are quite funny, but no-one gets our jokes. Maybe they are actually lame-o jokes, I don't know. Today he asked me for a big cordial. "A big cordial?" I asked, "Yeah," he replied, "I'll give you the credit for it". For those not in the know, that is a Seinfeld joke.

Earlier today Susan told me her brother was moving from Chicago to Austin. "Austin, Massachusetts?" I asked. "No, Austin is in Texas," she replied. I had to explain to her that I did know that, but was referring to the film "Road Trip", where Tom Green's character mistakes Austin, Texas for Boston, Massachusetts, and much hilarity ensues. Ahh, dear popular culture, I am you as you are me.

Summer time, a.k.a. daylight saving, kicked in last Saturday/Sunday. It is now even harder than usual to get up in the morning. However, it is also reeeally light in the evning when I am walkking home from work, even if it is nearly 7pm – still light. It's great because I can now go along the pretty route through the park, and since it isn't dark, I don't get yelled at by random homeless people. I don't know why their yelling is restricted to the darkened hours, but that does seem to be the case so I will just be happy instead of questioning it.


March 30, 2006

No self-discipline today – I got up at 8.40 a.m., about an hour late. Need to go to bed earlier!


March 29, 2006

My eye is much better now. It is hardly red at all (back to plain old yellowish from growing up in UV-land) and it doesn’t hurt either, which is nice. I have been pretty slack about putting my steroid drops in 4 times a day (I’ve been doing it once or twice) but that is because adhering to the regulations Worked(!) after the first 2 days of it. I don’t think the skenky bumps will be going away, but I can deal with them.

I also discovered a new source of podcasts the other day. It is called Learn Out Loud and among lots of other things it has panel discussions from the recent SXSW. I finally got to hear the voice of Dooce and she doesn’t sound nearly as Southern as she would let her readers believe. Except in parts. She sure is relentless though.

My latest project is learning some programming. I have decided to learn a language called Perl. Besides having a pretty name, it might even be useful one day since it is used to handle many of the databases associated with bioinformatics data such as the sequences from the Human Genome Project. Or so I am led to believe. This site makes it look do-able. After that I will learn Ruby, since it also has a pretty name and purports to be super-easy (I doubt it). Maybe I will first finish writing the journal article that I am supposed to be doing (from my PhD), maybe I won’t.

I love the internet

March 22, 2006

Yes I Do. I love the internet. I wish I was one of those creative people out there, changing the way the web works every day. My usual response when people tell me things along the lines of that last sentence is "well just bloody go and get started then". I guess I am in a way, because I'm pursuing (albeit passively) a greater level of knowledge about what's out there.

I would like to adapt some of the emerging concepts of social software (blogging, Flickr, myspace, similar kinds of things) to science somehow. The problem with science is that it would move much faster with better communication. The problem with telling everyone all about your results though is that you risk losing an opportunity to be the first one to do some nice piece of work or discover something or work something out first. The current system rewards, even requires secrecy, because you'll lose the funding to your competitor if you aren't careful. Happily, podcasting is working, for example I love the Nature podcast and the ABC Radio National Science Show podcast, now it'll be interesting to see which other technologies follow.

Ooh and I am a bit late with this one, but Google is now doing for stock charts what it has previously done for maps. Nice.

Much as I love the internet, unfortunately I think that it may be killing my eyes – I have developed a bit of episcleritis (mine looks worse than in that link). The cause (if not idiopathic) could be the cold dry harsh English air that my eyeballs are unused to, or it could be my hours and hours per day of staring at a computer screen, apparently unblinkingly. Or maybe it's some hideous underlying systemic inflammatory disease, hmmm, which would fit with my inflamed and unhappy skin. Hypochondriac! Time and test results will tell. Anyway I have drops and ointments galore and am making an effort to blink more, so I'm hoping it clears up over the next few weeks. If only so people will shut up about it.

Anyway during this evening's screen-staring-fest (mostly via links in the sidebar), I was wandering around various blogs and came across an account of polyphasic sleep, which I had never heard of before. I like it but I think you need to be wholly self-employed to get into that shit. It was linked from an article about how to become an early riser, which I need. Part of the strategy is to go to bed when you're sleepy. I am never sleepy before 2am, there are just so many things out there (on the internet and on tv) that are more interesting than sleep. However, I think a bit of self-discipline (another thing I suck at) probably helps with the adoption of new habits so I'm off to have a shower now.

I am watching some old episode of Extreme Makeover:Home Edition and they just got the fire department out to fill the pool – they didn't want it to take 15 hours, and yeah it took like 24 minutes or something. Madness.

Lines in Photoshop

March 15, 2006

I just worked out how to draw straight lines in Photoshop. It is not even slightly difficult. I just hadn't really needed to do it before. Except one time, where I couldn't work it out, and must have been drunk or asleep or something. Because honestly, there's a line tool and everything. It's just hidden behind the rectangle tool.