Friday, 28 November 2008

Don't be a dick

Just for the record, in case anyone felt there was any ambiguity, the phrases "No offense but..." and "Don't take it personally but..." are NOT get out of jail free cards. You can't use these phrases to put brackets around statements and expect to be excused from the normal rules of friendship.

I'm not going to use one specific example here but several times in the last month or so I've been an unwilling observer of people taking upon themselves the role of unrequested guru for their unsuspecting friends, family and co-workers. Just stop it please. It's not cool.

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

This is not my definition of fun

It's the 11th month of the year so it must be Movember. Once again I've joined the ranks of dedicated men who have put their dignity, love life and shaving routine on hold for 30 days to support a good cause.

This year the charities benefiting are The Cancer Society of New Zealand and Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand. I think we can all agree that they are both worthy causes so go here and donate. Your money not only helps others it keeps me looking like an extra from an Errol Flynn movie for another 5 days or so.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Apologies to Lore Sjöberg

So as I was saying, "Junk Mail". As you can see, our letterbox is fairly standard. Well, ugly might be a better descriptor but seeing as we're soon to re-landscape the front and rear gardens, we're waiting until the work is done (tic-toc Roops) before getting a new mail holder.

There is a "Please no circulars" sticker attached but even assuming it ever acted as a ward against physical spammers, dirt and time have stripped it of its powers and as the photo shows, we get unwanted mail.

Most other houses on our street have taken a similar approach. Take the good people at number 79. Very respectable house and the same bog standard "Please no circulars" sign.

But not all of our road brethren have taken the same tack. The residents of the elitist "Top Flat" at 1/17 have tried to hide their Champaign Charlie ways with a Blue Peter approach involving a couple of pieces of sticky tape and paper.

The students at number 70 are a bit more in your face with their the Young Ones-eque, "Oi no ads".

Then these guys are going for the weird-ass "No Junk or the monster will eat you" approach which makes sense until you realise that the Psyduck meets Robot Stig of the Dump thing is actually the letterbox and so is actually poking over the fence saying, "Pssst, ignore the sign and feed me."

The gang at #80A are trying to be a bit more upmarket with a sophisticated, European Letterslot. However, any je ne sais quoi that might have existed is negated by the fact that they've used a marker to draw the sign on their door.

Now, here's an approach that you don't see every day - Non-violent Resistance. Gandi here thinks that sending out an olive branch in the form of the "I like you" message, is sure to melt the cold heart of the junker and persuade them to turn the other cheek. Obviously this doesn't work and has just made their letterbox a target for a fluro-dot attack (more about this militant band of public found-art wankers later).

Finally we come to the sign that makes me smile every day on the way to the bus stop. My peeps here at 89 Owen Street have really put some effort into this. You're got the nice large message that can't be misinterpreted (spoken by, if I'm not mistaken, an infernal skeleton flipping the bird). There's the authoritative the "Keep walking" with three exclamation points for added malice and the whole thing is finished off nicely with the "ya hear?" down in the bottom corner.

I'm guessing that this is probably the most effective of all the anti-direct mail measures employed in our street as it really broadcasts that the occupants of the house are at the end of their tether and you're likely to find a gin trap closing rapidly on your hand if you try and place any unwanted deliverys in their box.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Now we're cookin'

I originally wrote this all down for Hagrid but I figure it's too good to keep it from the rest of the world.

Vegetarian Lasagne

This is an Anglicised version of the vege lasagne that I had in Rome in 2000. The key is that the flavour should come from the pasta itself and the sauces should be there to complement rather than dominate.

For the Sauce
2 x onions (sliced thinly)
2 x cloves of garlic (crushed)
top half of half a head of celery (you actually just need the leaves sliced roughly)
4 x tins of diced tomatoes (I think the standard size of the tin is 440g)
50g pine nuts
50g sunflower seeds
splash of soy sauce
splash of red wine
1 T golden syrup (brown sugar also works)
salt and sepper

For the White Sauce
50g flour
50g butter
milk (the amount needed varies. If you have a litre that should be enough)
2 t whole grain mustard
50g parmesan (finely grated)
salt and pepper

Also need
at least 500g of lasagne sheets (Fresh ones are best but the packet ones you get in the fridges at supermarkets are fine. The dried sheets tend to be lacking in taste edam or mozzarella to top
nice garlic bread

Set the oven at 200°C

Tomato sauce

- Heat some oil in a large heavy pan and add the onions. Cook until the onions start to go translucent.
- Add the garlic and stir well. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes and then add the celery. I should confirm here that you should be using the top half of the celery – the bits that you usually throw away. The leaves should wilt fairly quickly (like spinach). You could use spinach instead but I prefer the subtle flavour of the celery.
- Add the tomatoes, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, soy sauce, red wine and golden syrup (golden syrup gives the sauce a lovely caramel undertone). Stir well and reduce the heat. Simmer for about 20 minutes. You're just trying to thicken it up a little here. Doesn't have to thicken a lot as it'll reduce while in the oven so 20 minutes should do. At this point I usually start the white sauce but if you're a noobie just keep an eye on the tomato sauce.
- Remove from the heat and add the basil, parsley, salt and pepper. I haven't given quantities as the best thing to do is just add a bit and then taste it and add more as needed. My biggest issue is usually not adding enough salt so taste it and see whether you can taste the different ingredients rather than just the tomatoes. When you're happy set to one side and begin on the white sauce.

White sauce
- I find that people tend to be scared of making white sauces. There are only three ingredients so it's really not that hard as long as you pay attention and manage the heat.
- Place the butter and flour in a pan and place on a low heat. I can't stress how important it is to set up the right heat initially. If you get it correct now you don't have to worry about it later. The guide I use is that the butter should only be melting slowly and not bubbling as you combine it with the flour. Just keep on stirring until the flour and butter combine. It should form a doughy looking mass. If it won't combine into one mass add a little more butter. If it looks greasy on the surface then add a little more flour. Once you're happy with it, beat it back with your wooden spoon, flattening it out in the pan. Essentially you're cooking the flour at this point. Every 30 seconds or so stir it all up into a single mass and then beat it back flat on the base of the pad. Continue until it just begins to change colour. It shouldn't brown.
- I must stress here that you've got to take this bit slowly. If you rush you'll get a lumpy sauce. Add milk a 'splash' at a time. I like to have the milk in my left hand and the spoon in my right. I also tend to flip the top off the bottle of milk with the thumb of the hand holding the bottle - it makes me feel like Brad Pitt with the bottle of acid in Fight Club.
- The process should be: Add milk, stir, stir, stir until the contents of the pan is a single consistency, repeat. Initially the interval between adding the milk should be fairly small as it'll combine with the flour/butter mixture quickly but as you add more and more milk it'll take longer to combine so just keep on stirring and don't leave the pot unattended or unstirred for a moment. You'll have added enough milk when it's the consistency of runny custard. Not much help I know but what you're looking for isn't as thick as yoghurt but not as runny as cream. A MacDonald's thickshake is too thick.
- At this point add the mustard and parmesan. Stir until the cheese is combined and again add salt and pepper to taste.

Compiling the lasagne
- Take a large corning ware dish. 8"x 8" is what flashes in my mind but I don't know the dimensions. You know what I mean by a lasagne dish. Add a layer of tomato sauce. It should be as thin as possible while still completely covering the bottom of the dish. Add a layer of pasta and then a layer of white sauce, again the white sauce should be as thin as possible while still completely covering the pasta. Then a layer of pasta followed by a layer of tomato and so on. Keep on going until the white sauce is used up. Then onto the final layer of white sauce add a sprinkling of edam or mozzarella. Both work but I prefer the taste of the edam while the mozzarella is more impressive as it goes stringy when melted.
- Now just pop it in the oven for 30-40mins. You want to make sure that the dish is heated through and the cheese on top is browned and not just a fatty pool of gloopy cheese. If the cheese is not browning, blast it under the grill for 5 minutes or so to finish. Serve with the garlic bread.

Hope that works. If it doesn't, it's your fault not mine.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Leading, not following

I'd just like to point out that The Daily Show made a joke about CNN's 'hologram technology' a full 3 hours after I did. I'm not pointing any fingers or making any threats but it looks like Colbert and Stewart might have some competition for the Emmy next year.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Beer and politics - conclusion

So the post-game analysis. Not really much to say: the right guy won, Californians screwed up Prop 8 and I think I proved that beer + politics + inter-webs = fun.

Here are some of the photos that didn't make it onto RS during the coverage due to time, connectivity or drunkenness:

Phil and I could so be pundits

The crowd at The Malthouse (Election Coverage HQ) while Obama was giving his acceptance speech

You have to admit that the man has presence

Obama: 349 (and counting)
McCain: 163

See you all back here in four years time.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Beer and politics part 15 16

He's done so well when you think about where he was 5 years ago. Nice speech and it's good to have an American President that you can describe as an orator.

I'm done. Wrap up to come tomorrow. Drink them if you got 'em.

President Elect Obama: 338
McCain: 156

Beer and politics part 14 15

Florida just went blue. That's huge. This is a mandate to get the broom out and start clearing away the Bush relics.

President Elect Obama: 333
McCain: 155

McCain tries to turn back time

It was a well put together speech but I spent the whole time expecting Palin to snatch the microphone away from him and start speaking in tongues.

Beer and politics part 13 14

CNN calls it for Obama. Done.

Obama: 297
McCain: 139

Battle of the Beard

Phil's scared that he might have angered Wolf by suggesting he has the better facial hair.

Obama: 220
McCain: 135

Beer and politics part 13

McCain just got Texas but then not even a Southern Democrat (Clinton) could beat a Northern Corpse Republican (Dole) in Texas so that's not saying much.

Obama: 207
McCain: 135

Beer and politics part 12

Can't keep up with the states as they come in.

Short answer = Basically, if Obama wins another state east of Texas he's definitely the next President.

Long answer = CNN currently has Obama on 199, add to that the 77 electoral college votes that he'll get on the West coast of the US and he's broken the magic 270 needed to win. So baring a huge muck up in the pre-election polling Obama's across the line.

The hell with it. I'm calling it for Obama. That's right I'm calling it before CNN. I own you Wolf

Beer and politics part 11

Wolf commands -

Ohio = McCainObama

Obama: 194
McCain: 69

But more McCain has called in Hank Williams to increase his polling among the boogie-woogie vote.

I'm always on duty


Beer and politics part 10

Wolf commands -

Georgia = McCain

Obama: 174
McCain: 49 69

Beer and politics part 9

Wolf commands -

Rhode Island = Obama
Michigan = Obama
Wisconsin = Obama
Minnesota = Obama
New York = Obama

Wyoming = McCain
North Dakota = McCain
Alabama = McCain

Obama: 174
McCain: 49

Beer and politics part 8

Wolf commands -

Pennsylvania = Obama

Obama: 102
McCain: 34

Beer and politics part 7

Wolf commands -

New Hampshire = Obama

Obama: 81
McCain: 34

Beer and politics part 6

Awesome lunch at Sweet Mother's Kitchen. Refuelled and ready to get back on the trail.

Obama: 77
McCain: 34


CNN is going projection-happy, apparently getting over the shyness people expected of them after historical up-fucks. Polls are closeding in the East at a fair pace, and CNN is colouring their Big Map like a kindergartner.

Obama: 77, McCain: 34.

I'd post you a photo, but George took his camera to lunch with him.

Guest-blogged by Phil.

Beer and politics part 6

CNN broadcasts from THE FUTURE!

Beer and politics part 5

Wolf commands -

Vermont = Obama
Kentucky = McCain

Obama: 3
McCain: 8

Beer and politics part 4

Anderson Cooper and Bear Grylls separated at birth?

Obama: 0
McCain: 0

Beer and politics part 3

The race for the 2nd term begins.

NB - There seems to be far too many adverts for energy companies and how much they care about the planet.

Obama: 0
McCain: 0

Beer and politics part 2

Progress you can believe in.

Obama: 0
McCain: 0

Beer and politics part 1

This is the first of the day. Updates to follow.

Obama: 0
McCain: 0