Naan pizza

Hmmm…. what’s available for tea?

  • Slices of pork from the Sunday roast last weekend
  • Buffalo Mozzarella
  • Couple of plain naans left over from a “Waitrose Indian Takeaway for 2”
  • Tomato paste
  • Oregano, Paprika and Parsley

Pizza!

 

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Bill Bailey–Limboland

Big fan of Bill Bailey, the comedian and musician – not to be confused with Axl Rose, the other famous comedian and musician – so reasonably happy to cough up £25 (+£2 ticket tax). He seems to be keeping his pulling power as tickets were only 5p less for the Qualmpeddlar tour back in 2013.

Doesn’t the Hexagon look lovely?

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Impressed how many instruments Bill brought on stage with him. Guitars, a mandola (violin is to viola as mandolin is to mandola; simples), keyboards, and some ethnic (his word) wooden xylophony sort of thing, supported at one point with the sampled roar of the audience.

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I was definitely in the right frame of mind for Bill’s comedy tonight. He made me laugh throughout and the muscles at the back of my scalp were aching after a while. Tried to ignore the often bemused person on my right that didn’t seem as tuned in.

As is usual with all comedy gigs, a spell is cast upon the audience such that all memory of the actual jokes and punch lines fades almost immediately after leaving the venue. Now all I have are “I’m a fully qualified bongos instructor”, Ramstein’s rendition of Abba’s Waterloo, and Bill’s story of being a drunken fanboy around Macca.

Dithered at the merch stall over buying “In Metal” but they are the same price online (although +P&P) for a signed copy. As Bill did seem to be hanging around afterwards to do autographs, I passed. Maybe I’ll add it to the Christmas list.

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Trevor Noah? What a git

Last December, I eagerly bought tickets to see Trevor Noah at the Hexagon. I’d seen him on the TV a few times and thought he would be a nice addition to the comedy gigs we see in town. Front row seats, bought ten months in advance.

Yesterday, the Hexagon box office called to tell me the gig had been cancelled. Obviously, I was concerned as gigs are usually cancelled because of poor health. I checked Trevor’s website and saw that all the tour dates had gone. No obvious reason. Strange.

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Then I noticed his Twitter feed at the bottom talking about Trevor now hosting “The Daily Show”. So he knew ages ago that a big TV role was going to clash with his tour but decided to hold on until the show aired before cancelling the tour. Thanks a bunch.

Financially prudent to have a back-up but what a git.

[[I should really write a #NSFW version to explain my true feelings]]

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Atten…shun!

Saw a horde of caterpillars on a rose bush in our garden at the weekend that I’m sure we’d never seen dining there before.

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Turns out that they are not caterpillars as that term is for butterflies and moths only. These are instead the larvae of rose sawflies, as indicated on an RHS blog (What’s eating the rose foliage?).

The blog goes on to say:

“Sawfly larvae are curious little things. The slightest disturbance of the plant causes them to curl their bodies so their ‘tails’ are pointing away from the leaf.”

So I went ahead and tapped the stem, causing all the larvae to immediately stick their tails in the air. Marvellous to watch.

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Library Pub Quiz!

As part of the 30 years anniversary for the central library in Reading, they held a Summer Quiz tonight. £4 to get in which, as usual, paid for booze and prizes. Sadly, I was driving so stuck to the apple juice.

Samantha wanted to go but not alone so I was volunteered to attend too. Was pleased to be recruited by an existing table of four to make a real powerhouse of knowledge.

The recent death of Christopher Lee was marked by a 20-question picture round – identify the film he’s appearing in. According to IMDB (which I checked later) he has 278 credits as an actor so we had little chance for probably half of the pictures – the ones NOT of the easy horror /SF/ Sherlock Holmes appearances. Really brought home how many films he’s been in and genres he’d crossed.

Also up for a memorial was Terry Pratchett with a 10-question section of his own. At last – questions I could answer! Grumblings from around the decidedly retired audience who had little clue who he was. Come on, he was your age when he died – you’ve no excuse.

And so, with a fat wad of Discworld points, we swept to victory! £50 of book vouchers shared between the team members – I will be Raising Steam with my winnings.

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Reading Geek Night–July 2015

Went to my first Reading Geek Night tonight, coincidentally their first at the new venue.

They used to convene downstairs at the Outlook (decent draught beer) – just like Skeptics in the Pub – but now are upstairs at the Walkabout (shite draught beer).

Agenda for the night was

  • 8:05pm Ethical Engineering (Chris Hoult)
  • 8:50pm Internet of Browsers (Ben Foxall)
  • 9:20pm Oculus Rift DK2 (Simon Morris)

although, unfortunately, the Oculus Rift session was postponed a month. Mildly annoying as that was what I was most interested in seeing.

Chris mentioned at the start that his  ‘Ethical Engineering’ presentation was a cut down version for the night and that showed. I wish he had given us the benefit of the doubt and removed the ethics primer to leave more time for discussion of real-world examples. As it was, we were mostly left with talking about how social media data was aggregated by DataSift (“Provide Insights. Protect Identity.”) so that individuals couldn’t be identified (e.g. by homophobic governments).
(Reminded me of how Microsoft handled internal polls where survey results were never broken down below a certain population size to try and protect anonymity. Doesn’t always work – it was usually obvious which happy soul in the team chose the negative options for everything to try and make a point (no, not me).)

Ben had a particularly impressive impressive demonstration of controlling people’s smartphones through their browser. The concept was pretty simple – the phone owners would browse to his site and establish a network connection between the Javascript application and the back-end server which Ben controlled via his laptop. He started off simply – making the phone screens change colour, vibrate and beep on demand or displaying a diagram on the screen representing how many phones reported supporting a particular functionality. Next users had to tap on-screen buttons when he pointed in their direction to calibrate where they were in the room from left to right and front to back, after which he was able to make waves of colour and bird sounds play across the room in waves. Apparently, with large audiences, this has an unexpected side effect in identifying anyone with ornithophobia who get spooked by the sounds of flocks of crows flying in from the back of the room. Q&A followed, including crowdsourcing data, such as identifying regional illness patterns through smartphones reporting temperature.

Overall, a good replacement environment for the event – spacious with comfy seats – and a couple of decent speakers. Roll on next month.

Audience photo from @RDGGeekNight’s Twitter feed:

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Problem–how to focus on weight loss. Solution–make flapjack!

At the back of the larder, I found a box of Quaker Oats’ ‘Oat So Simple’ sachets from 2013 that Sue had once shown an interest in having for breakfast. “Waste not, want not” so opened all the sachets and poured them into a container for later use. Now the only thing you use oats for is flapjack so I searched the Internet for a fruity recipe:

  • 250g butter, plus extra for greasing. Amazingly we didn’t have much in the fridge so had to  pop into Tesco on the way home.
  • 150g mixed dried fruit, like cherries, cranberries, apricots or prunes. Samantha turned her nose up at some now-out-of-date ‘Hawaiian Mix’ I’d bought last Christmas from Holland & Barrett (not normally my shop-of-choice due to the range of BS products they stock but they had some offers at the time that made good presents) so we went for some Waitrose glacé cherries (BBE 2016!) that I’d bought well in advance for the annual fruit cake.
  • optional: 3 pieces of stem ginger
  • 4 tablespoons golden syrup. This stuff last FOREVER; 6 years old and starting to crystallise at the bottom of the tin but the contents still pour smoothly 
  • 200g brown sugar. Found some lovely dark brown sugar; just needed some encouragement to come out of the container. 
  • 350g oats. We only had 300g from the recycled Oat So Simple packets so topped up with Ready Brek from their rival, Weetabix.

    An hour later… tada!

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    A bit drier than I had expected – maybe the recipe’s recommendation of 40 minutes was too long – but enjoyable.

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