Monday, October 31, 2011

Not all girls

Would be so horrifyingly unappreciative.




I have a bit of a head cold, so I am perhaps not in the best of moods.

Don't get me wrong - the weekend was not bad.

I baked some cakes!  The Clementine recipe from before, only I boiled up 5 very anaemic early NZ lemons, upped the sugar volume and baked for longer (over-boiled, so the fruit were swimming in the most lovely reduced lemon syrup - threw that in as well).  Ordered a kilo of ground almond from here at the advice of the homeboys awesome girly half.  (who I saw Footloose with last week - hilarious).

Very good.

I am exam-supervising all week and was going to take the smaller cake in for Neil's birthday, but decided my freezer deserved it more.  (12 eggs, come on!) Lets keep that to ourselves, yeah?

Again no piccies cause I've been lax with the photography lately - for example last weekend I made 4 batches of cookies for the RWC final: jam drops, coconut brownies, anzacs and seed cookies.  They looked lovely, but - no photos.  (I think I did take one of the very first dough batch...not sure).  I do have a lunchbox photo for you though!  Happy Day!  (not even a bit sinky in the middle, rejoice!)
Mmmm, bitter lemon to even me out...heh

And look!  I did take a dough shot.  Used massive coconut shavings instead of peanuts for the brownies; not a big fan of peanuts.  Love coconut.

On Saturday I made spinach cannelloni for TCO and her boyish half, not as good as I remember the bigsib making, though I swear I used the same recipe as her.  Paired it with garlic bread 'cause I was feeling lazy, and you can't really top spinach in the vege stakes, right?  Threw a bit of herb salt in the butter mix to jazz things up, came out too salty, though no one else seemed to mind.  And there is no way to make cannelloni except to stuff the little buggers using your fingers.  FYI.

I've been feeling exceptionally old this weekend, strange things building up, like suddenly preferring red wine to white, long blacks to lattes, the birthday in 2 months tomorrow - 26 and crossing the barrier towards 30.  (I know my loves, you are all older and more awesome, let me have 2 seconds of pity party, yeah?).  Trouble is over 2 years old and appears very well behaved to strangers (how did that happen?!), the cat is more affectionate and my old-man keeper (he keeps the dog and myself in line), the thesis will be done sooner rather than later (think long term, months not weeks - least you get your silly little hopes up too high), the house needs paint 'cause its been so long and I have been enrolled at Uni for nine years (the 9th soooo doesn't count...)

How did this happen?!


I spilled my coffee about 5 times on the short walk from GE to work.  I'm not complaining - it was very pretty:

And Allie is back, whom the whole internet loves, and has drawn the most apt depression progression I have ever seen.  That woman is a brilliant person.  Hugs.

My Chrissie tree goes up tomorrow.  Wow.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween v3

Awesome costume!
Tyler Card: Hero!  Love it.  And it works!  Via Squiddy, again.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Halloween v2

This is brilliant - and I think for everyday, not just Halloween.
I see cauliflower and cabbage and tapioca - instructions here.  Via Squiddy.  Very cool.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Finished off The End Specialist by Drew Magary this last weekend.  Good read - story based around the aftermath of someone inventing a 'cure for aging'.  The cure came from a Dros. lab, which I loved, was a mistake - which makes it more plausible, but is mostly scientifically unexplained.  The cure stops you aging, but you can still develop disease and die any other normal way.  The disintegration of society is both predictable and fascinating to watch unfold.  The book makes jumps into the future periodically and ends in nuclear holocaust.  The beginning of the book claims to lay before you a surviving account from the period, of someone who took frequent notes in diary form throughout his postmortal life.

The exploration into issues such as baby birthdate branding, 'Greenies', Cycle Marriages and the eventual 'End Specialisation' is delightful from a sociological point of view. The End Specialists deal with people who first want to die after a long life, voluntarily and then people marked for an end by a government stretched to its limit trying to retain power, order and functionin a world steadily running out of every type of resource.  A bit scary in its intensity and blithe handling of very real scenarios, but good stuff.


I also chewed through The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, (2003) by Mark Haddon.  Written from the perspective of a young boy with Asberger's (or similar.  The author claims not to be an expert on the subject, of any kind, and the book has received criticism for it).

The story is supposedly a mystery novel but explores Christopher's mind and home life in incidental detail.  It is a bit of a difficult read, not in the literary sense, but in the emotional.  You obviously see things happening through his writing which Christopher does not understand at all, and you find your heart strings tugged most unmercifully.  I shed tears whilst sitting in the Labour Day sun.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Amazing pumpkin carvings, perhaps the only thing I regret with regards to NZ not buying in to the ridiculous American Halloween Hype.
Via Gizzy.  By Ray Villafane.  

And more by same artist, via Squiddy.
Absolutely Brilliant.

'Scientists' join the Occupy Movement

With this delightful gem:
"Brandie Cross held the sign. She is in the 5th year of a PhD program in biochemistry at The Johns Hopkins University. Her speciality is breast cancer, a traditionally well-funded specialty. But she’s sure her job prospects are dim. “I’d like to start my own biotech company. I have tons of inventions, and I want to be funded by NIH. But there’s no money."

You have tons of inventions?  Jeese girl, good for you.  What about us research plebs who don't have dreams of big pharma or biotech startups?  Who want to be Uni-moles forever and ever into a glorious academic sunset?

The article, by Marc Kuchner, contains other interesting stuff - like the general lament of the scientist dreaming of more funding.  Shockingly - Texas and Florida are threatening the shutting down of their Physics Depts, which blows my mind.  How?!  WTF, man!

And this:

"Studies show that only half of U.S. adults can correctly answer the basic question: How long does it take for the Earth to go around the Sun?"


Holy Craptasticals Batman!

Need to Register/enrol for a full half year just to use one month at the beginning of 2012 - which brings my number, horrifyingly, up to nine.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Cookie Jar

Makes the noise, and I rush outside to see if he has landed in my yard.

One day, I won't be disappointed.

(no idea who to credit the image to, sent by TBO)

Friday, October 21, 2011

On Repeat

Alexi Murdoch, from the title sequence of both Real Steel and Away We Go, which completely flabbergasted me.

Embedding Disabled.  Click through for awesomeness.

Beautiful.  Love it.

My beach! Mine!

There's a whale stranded on my beach!  And the goddamn news photos make it look like a mint day (pouring here, typical)
Its a juvenile male pygmy sperm, and apparently all the preschools etc are going down for a look - it makes me all wibbly inside to know that everyone ran down to help ferry water buckets from the ocean.  I would!  Dad was down before work this morning, but didn't take a pic 'cause so many people were hassling around it.  Hassling in a good way.

He doesn't look that heavy, surely they can re-float him soon.

UPDATE:  Mum tells me he has been re-floated amongst big fuss with the local Maori standing guard.  Love it.

We call it 'Mufasa'

Brace yourselves people, you are about to see something which may scar your unborn children:  My face.  And - my hair.

dum dum duuuuuuuum!

But first - backstory!

Ok, so I've lamented about the hair before, the blaming of the parents etc etc.  First year of my PhD I had a mohawk, like this:
And it was rockin'

That was in the first year of my PhD, 2008 (student ID photo).  I've been growing it fairly steadily since about three quarters of the way through that year (that was my student politics year, good times).

Recently I decided to try a new sitch for dealing with the mop- not only use the ridiculously expensive hair products I have become accustomed to, but to cut back to one wash a week - one wash followed by at least 30 minutes of protein treatment.

Ok, ok, so now you know - I might be a little vain with regards to my hair.  You have to pick and choose the body parts you love right?  (like my feet.  I love my feet - they always look so small but the bastards are actually a 42)

The hair routine works - curls are hell with the dry aspect of things, and add in epic thickness and quantity - you have all the ingredients for taking over a small third world country at least.

So, blah blah blah - this:
Holy shit, is that what I look like?!

That's a shitload of growth in 3 years - and if its brushed or straightened a little, its a lot longer.  But - fun times!  I have never felt like my hair suits me more than it does right now.  And you have to admit - doing sweet FA to your hair all week is a pretty mint deal.

Rock the crazy hair my lovelies!

Also - way to look decades older!  Sheesh!  

Thursday, October 20, 2011


Went to see Real Steel last week with The Married One's other-half-which-appreciates-good-cinema and the labs baby PhD student (and his delightful plus one).
I really liked it.  Best part?  The gorgeous kid dancing with Atom.  Loved it.  Plus some epic beats.  (yeah, I'm cool enough).  I say bring in that shit to replace boxing now - I would pay to see that shiz for fun.

Plus, you know, Logan:
Mmmm.  Yup.

Last night The Authoress-plus-one (not that sort of plus one, mind) stuck in Away We Go
Also loved it - brill normal movie (as opposed to my love of the above, plus comic-adapts).  Beautiful story, completely lovely soundtrack, very funny in parts - a good one to watch with the parents, and it didn't engage my gag reflex (directly tied to chick flicks and sappy disgusting romances (as opposed to the epic ones - like P&P...sigh)).  Awesome actors chosen to fill the roles, I think I fell in love with Burt a little bit.
Love her coat

Definitely one I'd watch again.  Wow - high praise.

Knitters Unite!

This is so cool:
"Skeinz, a yarn store in New Zealand is calling on knitters worldwide to make sweaters for penguins affected by the2011 New Zealand Oil Spill. The sweaters prevent oil-soaked birds from preening (and poisoning) themselves, and keep them warm before and after they are cleaned by cleanup workers. The Tasmanian Conservation Trust made a similar request in 2001, but instead of the 100 sweaters they asked for,they received 15,000." 

 Via Squiddy and heaps of others - knitters worldwide unite for NZ!  Whoop!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kids and their Trucks

A couple of weeks ago a crane parked up outside the Micro building next door, ready to winch the pre-made PC3 container-lab onto the roof.

Of course, everyone ran outside to watch the fun and imagine being a crane driver for a living, for a moment.

Massive crane, and TCO had to do the obligatory pointing-pose for a photo.  


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Heartbreak Cake

Last week I made Nigella's Heartbreak Cake (lets not read too much into this, people) just 'cause I felt like it.

Called Chocolate Fudge Cake, it gives a delightfully moist cake with a decent chocolate flavour without crossing into the ridiculous, nor being boring chocolate spongeness - somewhere in the middle.

Definitely a good cake for heartbreak.
I have avoided chocolate cakes for an age, the last ones I made were all coma-cakes (full block of choc in the batter, full block in the ganache icing - hence the coma) or nasty brown boring dry cake with no texture or depth of flavour.  Also - chocolate cake sometimes is so overdone...almost, cliché.


Yeah, not a fan.  But this cake is a keeper, not a fav, but a good'un.  It has a lot of water in the batter - and a delightful sour cream/egg mix which was lovely to make.  Stupid amounts of butter in the icing.  I also managed to avoid my tendency to overcook - (the skewer might come out clean, but the cake looks wibbly! More heat!) and have a slightly fudgy, but not raw middle.  10 points for learning from mistakes!  I was also in no hurry and cooled in-tin and without for decent amounts of time - no icing on warm cakes people. 

Good, progress is good.

Good times.  (Not really: if the chocolate cake recipes come out, you know we have issues to work through, but pretending makes life easy, yeah?).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Ooooh the brain pain!

My fingertips itch!  My fingers flex!  My brain screams at me - fix it! Fix it!


Via The Old One (air kisses!)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Whoop! Arms!

Yay!  I sooo can't wait.  (Yes yes, we know - shitty movies ring my bell)

Cap and Thor - Mmmmmmm

Friday, October 14, 2011


So last weekend I laxed out in the sun for a bit and stayed up far too late reading, but still churned through another two YA books I've been meaning to read (yeah, yeah - my reading is lazy at the mo, but YA fiction is so much more delightful than some of the new adult fiction - too much stupid, not enough childlike imagination; which doesn't make sense 'cause its not like the authors themselves are not adult, just some of them...suck)

Anyway - another of Scott Westerfeld's novels, Peeps - a vampire story, but not like any you've read before.  Very parasite and biology oriented, every even chapter is a discussion on a different parasite, gross, amazing fascinating stuff.  Vivid imagery - old swimming pools squirming and pulsating with hundreds of rats and so on.  Perhaps not a good book for the weak-of-stomach.  Lovely twist on the "natural vampire" tale too.  Short, gross, gravelly read.

A while back I wrote about the book and movie 'I am number four' from the Lorien Legacies, well the sequel came out and has been chillin' on my floor ever since, finally picked it up and churned through it - quite a lovely continuation of the story.  The Power of Six, by Pittacus Lore.  (Actual authors James Frey & Jobie Hughes)

Did not feel stretched at all and I am left quite looking forward to the next instalment.  I particularly enjoyed the part where, in the last book Henri told John that people from his world only fell in love once, with one person - and it was for life.  In this book we find John (Four) lusting after Six but convincing himself that its nothing and he still loves the human girl, Sarah.  We then we find that Henri was a romantic and might have stretched the truth *coughliedcough* a bit and John just doesn't know what to do.  Hilarious.  Good, chilled out, quick read for SciFi fans.  I like the lack of despair and hopelessness which pervades depressing adult genre books, things just seem to work out for the best for each protagonist and you are left feeling quite satisfied with the state of things at the end.  Unlike bloody CH who leaves you hanging on bloody meat hooks  *grumblegrumble*

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New Fav Cake

Last weekend I went nuts with the orange boiling, the week before had been a bit crap and I vented with baking therapy.  I had seen Nigella make this delightful creation one worried night, and knew it had to be tried. (I was a bit revolted - pith?! Had to try it)

Called a Clementine Cake in this instance, you boil whole citrus for 2 hours then purée the lot with ground almond, sugar, eggs and a wee dash of baking powder.  No flour to speak of, which pleased the angry-guts-Mother when I was raving about it, so I'm sure she'll be making it quicksmart.  I remember sampling another such cake at the French Bakery here in Dunedin with my lovely Nana way back when, in the sunlit years of my undergrad.  I remember her asking for the recipe and the baker refusing - only telling of the boiled oranges part.    I just need to find a cheaper source of ground almonds - and we'll be trying boiled lemons next.  Oooo and I bet it will be better than the bigsibs sour cream lemon syrup cake.  Mwahahahaha.


It was also so good we did not pause to take a photo.  As soon as it was cold the big one was cut up (such a shame - I had boiled too many oranges, enough for two cakes) and sampled, the rest was then squirrelled away in the freezer for a rainy day.  The other was fed to the ravenous lab-beast (students) and I'm pretty sure this is my new fav - overtaking the cream cheese pound cake in the cake-stakes.

This photo is from the food-Madam's site, and please note the sinking in the middle - mine did not sink nearly so much :D
Rock on lovelies!  (and pop in for some cake, emergency cuppa supplies are high right now)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Suit fit for a Rubbish Ball

I had forgotten about this wee gem, but it is a bit too awesome to leave forgotten.

The Queenstown Science Conference includes a fashion show for science geeks - 'fashionomics' where everything has to be made from stuff found in your lab.  The Baby One (TBO) was in Queenstown for the whole conference and wanted to enter in an outfit for it (we only arrived at the end of the week for the Development satellite) so we decided on a bit of a tophat/suit tails/pimp cane combo.

I took some measurements and drew up a bit of a draft and then just set to chopping.
My shape, his numbers - weird

Now, I reasonably frequently free-sew my own skirts and have done a couple of shirts and dresses so am quiet used to faking my own pattern - TBO is tall and very skinny - the altered dimensions completely blew my mind, I guess you never really think about a persons body dimensions until you try to sew something for them.

Of course, in this context I mean 'sew' like I mean 'masking tape that shit'.

The back was easy, as were the tails and the front.  I helpfully had a silver sharpie on hand to free draw the pattern on the plastic.  Lucky, cause nothing else worked.
Bits of sack everywhere

The arms were a complete nightmare, especially since I was using 2 layers of trash sack for strength and had to tape up inside and outside.  Of course I did this after I attached it to the body.
Aww - look at those cute toesies

And, considering the how and the what of, the finished tailcoat was epic - slightly short on shoulder width, but then what do you expect when you make something free-hand without your model present to try that shit on as you go?  Not quite traditional, and some sneaky pockets, just for fun:
All class here, baby

So drop me a line the next time you need a tailcoat made out of rubbish bags, I'm your girl.  Awesome good fun.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I polished off the final two books in the Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld, weekend before last, the first of which I prattled on about earlier.


This one picks up from the first after the merging of the two Darwinist and Clanker technologies on the airship Leviathan, and follows Deryn/Dylan and Alek through to Istanbul and the revolution (with which they greatly help) against the sultan (slightly altered course of history there).  The imagery  is completely beautiful, with the rich new cultures shining out from the words and the action gripping but not hopeless enough to cause despair - I finished it in a day:  Saturday.

And Goliath

Goliath focuses more on an individual - Tesla, whom Deryn and Alek help rescue from Siberia on the Leviathan.  Tesla is a mad scientist (same Tesla as ours - mad at the end) and claims to have built a war-ending weapon utilising the electricity of the earth itself.

The ending is quite satisfying, with Alek relinquishing his right to the throne of Austria-Hungary and him and Deryn (whom he finally finds out about both her feminine status, and her love for him) end up being agents for the London Zoological Society whom it is hinted at are actually secret diplomats.  I also finished this one in a day: Sunday.

The action in this book was perhaps a squick less exciting that the first two, but the story is very complete and nicely rounded up - plus they travel to America.  Characters return from the previous books in unexpected ways and places and you are constantly introduced to neat new fabricated animals and fantastic machines.

Some people have called this a 'steampunk' series, but I do not see it - certainly not 'steamy' enough to qualify.  And I shed a tear for adults who would not pick it up due to the YA intended audience, Westerfeld has created a delightful world.  I have the Uglies series and shall make a start on it as soon as I get some of my heavier books out of the way.

Good reads though, certainly going to make the kids read them - and then have a discussion about alternate histories and the real course of events.

Sneaky peek at some of the illustrations:


Monday, October 10, 2011

Oooo Gulliver!

Love, love, love this:
Sculpture by EVOL.  Via.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Tree of Life

But wait!

Beautiful art by Gary, Aaron & Khairul of Degree.  Via.