Day 199 – The Ice Man Cometh

Coffee/Ferrerro by request, and Banana-Choc-Chip for good measure.

I have a birthday party to attend tomorrow, and I had promised ice cream. My holiday has made me very disorganised though, so the cooling elements weren’t in the freezer yet as-at this morning.

In an up-to-that-point unrelated event, some money I wasn’t expecting had made its way into my account from the Netherlands. After about half an hour of research, I had figured out the best model, and I had found a vendor in Castle Hill with stock.

A short road-trip later…

Industrial looking box
Industrial looking box

I am now the proud slave to a 1.5l ice cream maker with compressor. Which means that I do not need to freeze elements ever again, and I can now make as many batches of ice cream in a row as I want/need to.

Russian Nesting Packaging
Russian Nesting Packaging

Apparently this model has been flying off the shelves; if the warehouse was to be believed they had just received a shipment of 200 to keep up with demand.

Square and Foreboding
Square and Foreboding

The machine itself looks very industrial with a minimum of moving/removable parts; it has already proven easy to clean. It also comes with separate paddles for ice cream and gelato, and the recipe booklet has a variety of ice cream recipes that do not even involve eggs, which could broaden my options for future ice-cream-making.

Old and New
Old and New

The new container doesn’t look that much larger than the old, but I used to only be able to make up to 1l at a time. This container should be good for up to 1.5l, but if nothing else it means I can put more solid ingredients into the mix without risk of overflow.

Time is Running Out
Time is Running Out

It took about 40 minutes per batch to cool sufficiently. It didn’t set as firm in the machine as I was used to, but it does seem better aerated. And once it goes through the actual freezer I expect it’ll be more than sufficiently solid. Also, these were lactose-free batches which always are harder to set, so this may actually have worked out perfectly.

I can’t wait to sample the results.

Now I just need to find new homes for the two old machines that are still taking up space. And I wonder how long before I get inundated with ice cream requests.

Day 198 – Potato Salad

Two summer recipes.

Sizing of ingredients can be varied to taste.

I challenge you to have left-overs for more than a day.

I refer to these as salads, but it’s probably not quite the right word. If you have a better suggestion after trying this, pleas let me know.

Chicken

  • Cook potatoes till crumbly; the chosen quantity will be about 1/3 of total volume of desired salad.
    Let cool, and then roughly mash with a fork into bowl that will be the final resting place of your creation.
  • Cut chicken breasts into cubes (about 1cm) to another 1/3 of total volume.
    Apply copious curry powder… trust me, don’t be stingy.
    Then add some more, really!
    Knead/rub so curry powder mostly covers all the cubes.
    Fry in pan until the outsides start showing crunchy orange patches and cooked well through.
    Let cool.
    Then shred cubes into small pieces into the salad bowl.
  • Add equal amounts of the following to the final 1/3 volume:
    Pineapple pieces shredded into small pieces like the chicken.
    Sweet corn kernels (drained).
    Walnuts, crushed to small pieces.
    Tasty/bitey cheese, cubed to about 4-5mm square (or so).
  • Add equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup to bind ingredients.
  • Mix ingredients till cohesive and evenly distributed.

Leave the finished salad in the fridge overnight to cool, then serve with bread (preferably crusty) and butter. Or anything else you feel like, really.

Tuna

  • Prepare potato as per chicken recipe, to 1/3 total volume.
  • Add drained tuna from a tin to about 1/4 total volume.
  • Add equal amounts of the following to the final 5/12 volume:
    An equal mix of cocktail onions and small gherkins cut into small pieces.
    Small crunchy apple pieces.
    Tasty/bitey cheese, cubed to about 4-5mm square (or so).
  • Add equal amounts of mayonnaise and ketchup to bind ingredients.
  • Mix ingredients till cohesive and evenly distributed.

Enjoy in similar fashion to the chicken recipe, in the understanding that this will not in fact taste like chicken, but rather like tuna.

Day 197 – Space-Time

This morning I discovered a rupture in the fabric of space-time down the hallway near the master bedroom.


We have two cats.

In many ways they are polar opposites:

  • Obie is white (mostly)
    Amber is black (mostly)
  • Obie enjoys showers (once wet)
    Amber hates showers (with a passion)
  • Obie hates lightning
    Amber sits at the screen door watching the lightning barely out of range of the rain splattering about her paws(!?)
  • Obie loves people (but is less cuddly these days)
    Amber is terrified of strangers (but not anymore)

When Amber wants something in the morning, she meows. She jumps on the bed. She walks over us to the other side of the bed. She jumps back off the bed, circles around, rinse, repeat.

The bedroom door is closed these days.

When Obie wants something in the morning, he scratches at the bedroom door, meowing and waits for some sucker to open it. This is very effective because he pauses random periods between attempts making it impossible to sleep through.

The hallway door is also closed these days.

On the whole, the airlock solution works well. The cats can do whatever they feel like to the hallway door, and with the second door in between me and the sound, I can barely tell when they do it. I readily sleep through their attempts now.


The Purrpetrator
The Purrpetrator

This morning Obie was the purrpetrator of disrupting my sleep. At about 8am he was scratching at the bedroom door hoping to be let in. I got up, carried him out of the hallway and closed the hallway door, and got back to bed.

That should have been it till I woke up properly.

At 8:30am, the same thing happened with a second Obie. I locked Obie-2 on the other side of the door as well and went back to bed.

Then at 9am, once more, the same thing. Obie-3 also left on the other side, I finally got to sleep till I could sleep no more at about 10am. Miraculously, when I went to feed the cats, there was only one Obie left on the other side of the door.

I have no idea what happened to the other two, nor which Obie we now have left.

The only logical conclusion I can come to though is that the other two came through a tear in space-time that recurred this morning somewhere between 8am and 9am, somewhere in the hallway. I presume that a similar phenomenon swallowed two of the Obies in the kitchen later; I just hope it was the corresponding copies, otherwise the universes might now be out of balance.

Day 196 – Blah Blah, Something

I need to write a quick post about today, but I’m not sure exactly what I have done today. Reality was fairly boring, but I’ll let you decide…

I clearly would have woken up at 5:30am and had my usual morning porridge with raisins. I may have added some banana on this occasion in preparation for 3 hours of Tai Chi. (Actual reality: wake up at 9am, roll over, wake up again at 10am, read phone and get up).

Next there would have been a knock at the door from the neighbours whose house was on fire, requiring help evacuating their 217.3 cats. (Actual reality: use allergy sprays, grab sunglasses and Kindle, go over for a coffee and a few chapters).

Then I grabbed my astrophysics and quantum mechanics books to do some light reading and invent a way to harness the power of artificial black holes to power our cities. (Actual reality: check Facebook, check Twitter, read my RSS feed).

Continue work on my 6m x 3m painting of Hannibal crossing the mountains in the medium of breakfast toppings, and composing a Sonata for garbage bins and distressed crickets. (Actual reality: get ready for gym to walk on treadmill for an hour followed by a V Core session… ouch).

Create a fat-free-sugar-free dessert that adequately substitutes for dark-choc-chilli-double-cream ice cream. (Actual reality: help with filling out of official forms on a website asking stupid invasive questions).

Watch a stupid dog video on YouTube. (Actual reality: watch a stupid dog video on YouTube)

I’ll do better tomorrow.

Day 195 – Apocalypse

It is a good thing I didn’t pre-write my post for today based on my suggestion yesterday, because it would have proven un-truthful in various ways.

I had set the alarm for 8am, and went to bed at 1am. Then I was tossing and turning over some inner turmoil I forget now till what felt like 2am. To make matters worse I found myself awake by 7:15 and unable to get back to sleep, so I decided to just get started with the day already. The early thingy catches the whatchamacallit and such.

An empty Esky turned into a perhaps-too-full-for-3-people Esky in no time at the shops. I decided to grab an early coffee as I came past. The staff at Michel’s was too stunned at my early arrival to remark on it. Or maybe I was too asleep to notice the remarks. It’s hard to be certain when my brain is still in a fog.

I had 4 parcels to send off by mail, but it was still a bit before 9am, so I moved the car, listened to my podcasts and sipped my coffee. But first I had a quick look at the store front to make sure they were going to be open; I had checked online, which suggested they would be, and the times on the store front were regular opening hours. Still, it looked awfully dark.

I heard of the mysterious pyramid in Night Vale and kept an eye on the clock. At about 5-to-9 seemed like a good time to take my bag of parcels back in and wait the remaining minutes staring in through the glass doors with a stupefied look of postal longing. At which point the interior of the store was still completely dark.

Odd.

Upon closer inspection, on the side opposite to the usual store hours was posted a little white sign declaring the store closed for Australia Day. I hate it when they put those up between when I first looked and when I was hoping for them to open the doors already. It would have been much more polite had they just put it up first thing. But alas, the doors were locked and there was nobody inside, so I had nobody to complain to except the inanimate interior. This did not help.

Luckily I was still very early for Wet’n’Wild despite my unnecessary delay. I parked the car right outside the gate where there were still plenty of spots at 9:15. I waited a while longer with my podcast, and by 9:30 I was wandering in through the gates with my Kindle ready to read till Steven and Holly were to arrive.

Sadly, neither of them arrived till about 11:15. Between 10am and 11am, the queues were so short that we could have easily fit in half a dozen rides. Never mind though, because we made some very good time in the queues for the Curler and the T5.

When we were queuing again at the Riptide things started to go pear-shaped though. First there was a commotion at the food pavilion in the middle of the park. We were only halfway up at this stage, so we couldn’t quite see what was going on. Screaming, and people calling park attendants into the pavilion. Steven suggested somebody must have choked on some of those deliciously crunchy fries they sell there, but Holly wasn’t convinced.

When the park attendants came back out with their shoulders visibly slumped even from that distance, it was clear all was not well. The urge to go down and check the situation out was strong, but there was nothing we could contribute, so we just stood watching alongside everybody else on the stairs.

Then more screams from the pavilion, and a confused scramble of fluoro shirts weaving back inside. No more slumped shoulders, but shaking of heads now.

The first one wandered out of the pavilion not long after. Just as you see in the movies; an uncoordinated weave into the main path. Some visitors wandered over to try and lend assistance, but it didn’t take long before they went down and turned into carbon copies of the first.

At this stage there was a push on the stairs of people trying to get down past us; we three just stood aside as we tried to figure out what was going on.

Sadly, Wet’n’Wild does not provide for very good ammunition against zombies. OH&S standards will have a lot to answer for, because how does one fight a budding zombie horde when there is nothing sharp around at all?

“How ’bout Mitre 10 down the road?”, Steven suggested.
I offered, “My car is near the gate, we just need to find a way to get there though.”
“First we should get our locker?”

The growing groaning mob downstairs wasn’t going to make that an easy task though. At this stage the problem had become sufficiently clear that the slide supervisors and most of the queue remaining in front of us had already made their way down the slides without waiting for any available rafts. A confused tangle of limbs whirling in the Double Bowlseye was steadily feeding the pool below. Luckily the zombies seemed too occupied with fleeing pedestrians on the concourse to concern themselves with the feeder fish yet.

“Better get down quick while they are still out-of-the-way!”
“We should grab the green slide then. It’s a quick ride and we really want to grab our thongs before we try to brave the gravel in the parking lot.”

Less than a minute later we’re climbing out of the pool, and taking a turn through the crowd back up the path where our towels and clothes are waiting. Holly dashes a bit further up the path though.

“Hey, where are you off to?”
“You’ll see…”
“Hey!”, Steven and I make a half-hearted dash after when she bends over and picks something up off the path.
“The guard dropped her weapon”, Holly now brandishing the measuring stick with its two sharp protrusions and giving it a vicious whirl about.
“Careful”, I nervously dodge back but she seems to know what she’s doing with a grin on her face.
“I’ll make a path to the lockers for you boys”
“We want the car thou… oh, keys… right”
She looks at me like I’m an idiot.

There aren’t too many zombies between the bottom of the slide and the lockers where our belongings are stored. She readily carves a path for us, meting out her judgement on two or three zombies shuffling our way before we find some shelter between two rows of green lockers.

I frantically try to open the locker with my token.
“Hurry, hurry!”
“It’s not opening… I got a dodgy locker”
“Why didn’t you change to another one?”
“I didn’t exactly know our lives were going to depend on it this morning; don’t rush me”
Two more shaky failed attempts, and then at last, success.

As we quickly grab our belongings, a girl steps out of the entrance to the toilets down the back. “What is going on?” Before we manage to get a word out, a middle-aged guy with glistening skin and dead eyes takes a chunk out of her shoulder. A second later the measuring stick is stuck inside his head, but alas, too late for the girl.

“Help me, help me, oh god, help me”
“Sorry, we can’t, there’s nothing we can do, we have to go, we have to go NOW”, Steven urges us.
“Don’t leave me, don’t go, I need a doctor”
Holly tries to rip loose her weapon, but sadly it has gotten lodged in the back of the man’s head and we are forced to abandon it here.
“Let’s not waste time, we need a way out”

The moment we step out from the protection of the lockers it becomes clear that the main path is no longer an option. It is crawling with the dead and the dying.

“We need another way”, I say.
“How about we climb the fence? The parking lot is right on the other side”, Holly offers.
“Follow the fence on the inside to the gates? If we’re quick we might get past before the place is overrun wi…”

Wait.

I think some of that last part we might have made up.

The queues to some of the slides can be awfully long, and what better way to make time fly than by working out our zombie evacuation plans? I mean… even the CDC has a Zombie Apocalypse preparedness site.

Day 194 – Today and Tomorrow

Today didn’t start in a very timely fashion; it was well past 11am before I even picked up my mobile from the bedside to check what the world had been up to in my absence. Alas, between the hours of 3am and 11am, apparently everywhere has been boring, so I didn’t miss much whilst unconscious.

My normal Sunday routine involves Yoga and then an extended period at Michel’s with my Kindle. Not today. Today I slept through Yoga. But that’s no reason to give up altogether.

By noon I was sitting in the not-sun outside Michel’s. Apparently a cool overcast Australia Day deters everybody else from doing the same, so I didn’t have much company outside. As usual, I sat at a table along the window with the opposing chair pushed in enough to rest my feet upon. Setting this up caused me to bump the chair into the window and Steve did look over, but I don’t think he realised it was me. No harm done though, so it doesn’t really matter.

There is something very relaxing about sitting in that specific spot near the entrance to the shops. I’ve always been good at tuning out background noise, and helps me focus on my reading somehow. And as a bonus, between chapters I can watch the people as they come by on their shopping errands.

I sat through two mugs of cappuccino, about 5 chapters, and a good 2 hours. This involves a lot of leg-exercise as well; if I do not keep re-adjusting which leg is resting on the opposing chair, I end up with wicker-shaped indentations on my legs that take forever to settle down again. Which probably isn’t healthy. I think?

The only reason I didn’t end up staying longer is that Dana started clearing the outside chairs and tables around me; I should have realised Australia Day means closing early. And I feel that good patron-etiquette at that stage calls for finishing my chapter and making room for the staff to do their jobs.

After returning home I spent some time on the PC. That always flies by. I cannot readily say what I actually did, but I can conclusively say that I achieved nothing. This strongly suggests I spent time on Facebook, Wikipedia or Steam.

The most productive part of my day consisted of watching Sherlock with Abbey. Not so much because of the show itself, but because I did the laundry and hanging while watching. I enjoyed the latter two episodes better than the first. It also means I’ve now fallen back in that pit of despair called waiting-for-the-next-season-to-come-around-in-another-48-weeks.

It is both bliss and absolute cruelty that they make only 3 episodes which they then air in 3 consecutive weeks. I wonder if this is on purpose.

The rest of my evening has been consumed with tomorrow. Or rather the planning of tomorrow; causality was in no way harmed by my actions.

I recently sold some hardware that had gathered dust, and now I must make good on the shipping that eBay requires of me. So, I have a list of all the addresses I need tomorrow morning first thing. Hopefully I can get through that very quickly.

Because after that I hope to get to Wet’n’Wild early enough to secure a parking spot near the entrance. They do not let you bring your own food in, but they cannot stop me from having an Esky in my car and ducking out for lunch and snacks as needed. So I have my bag packed for a visit there… and I still have a gym class booked that I may or may not go to at 5pm, so on the chance that I do, I’ll have to pack my gym gear as well.

So, odds are that tomorrow my post will go somewhat as follows: woke up at 8, went shopping, filled Esky, posted stuff, drove to Wet’n’Wild, spent day in sun and on slides, went to gym, aching after Nikki’s class, collapsed in front of TV, rushing this post sorry.

If I weren’t too stubborn to break my remaining 365-rules, I should really write the post now and set it on a timer. How would you ever know the difference?

Day 193 – Storming Guests

My evening today consisted of a low-key birthday party.

It had excellent pizza (Crust.)
It had excellent games (Cards Against Humanity, and Dominion.)
It had green vanilla cake (don’t ask.)

Stormtrooper Greets Guests with Light Sabre (Van Gogh)
Stormtrooper Greets Guests with Light Sabre (Van Gogh)

It had a Storm Trooper greeting the arriving guests… as well as the poor pizza delivery guy who seemed reasonably unfazed by this turn of events.

Day 192 – Still no Extra Sleep

I have been mistakenly under the impression that holidays have extra sleep in them. For some reason this luxurious possibility has not actually materialized in mine yet. The gym often gets me up early to get to my morning classes to kick off the day, and then a variety of other chores including writing of blog posts has been keeping me up later than I had hoped.

My resolution for the coming week is to have at least 2-3 nights where I wake up of my own accord before I have to be awake.

I’m not actually sleep-deprived either… I get enough… but I just want more!

Maybe I should extend my leave by another week.
I’m sure nobody would object to that.
I bet work barely notices my absence. 😉

Day 191 – Glorious Return

Today we returned home from a trip down the coast. I had planned to do a picture post with some of the shots from the trip, but alas, I did not find the necessary time to sort through pictures today.

Our friend Michael was making a rare visit from Malaysia, so that had to take a higher priority than the routine. This is also why Wednesday was held on a Thursday this week, which is still not as bad as getting Wednesday cancelled altogether (I shall have to write about my new-found love of Welcome to Night Vale some other time as well!).

We ate too many appetizers, and too much dinner, and finally too much dessert as well. The scales now hate me. And tomorrow we do it all over again before Michael has to disappear once more.

It’s fun though.

Day 190 – Long Walks on the Beach

I had access to a beach today, and I made good use of it. Twice!

This morning I went out to take some pictures with the DSLR. I have no idea how they turned out yet. I’ll spend some time sorting through the (hopefully) good results tomorrow. I had hoped to get further along the beach than I did, but there was a canal that superficially looked like not much of an impediment. Alas, standing on the edge it proved to be about waist-deep and I hadn’t dressed for that kind of crossing. More over I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to keep the camera dry if I jumped in. It was only a couple meters across, but still.

So I returned home and read Raising Steam by Pratchett, which was enjoyable, but not his best work I think. Paper books feel weird to my hands now that I do a lot of my reading on a Kindle. The bulk of paper is so unwieldy by comparison. Paper is more for collecting than reading if you ask me.

And in the afternoon I returned to the beach. I parked elsewhere and didn’t take the camera. Unencumbered with anything other than my podcasts in my ear I walked about 8km at a leisurely pace. It feels immensely relaxing, and it was unfortunate that I had left all my big ideas at home because it was an ideal time to think them. I didn’t walk as far as I had intended, but distances along the coast can be very deceiving… a curve of beach that looks like an easy 1 hour walk will readily prove to be over 15km long and a half-day round-trip if attempted. The only way to get perspective is to look behind at how slowly my starting point was dwindling to the same sizes to “talk” some sense into me.

This feels like exactly the right level of productivity for a holiday.

I guess it’s only right to do this on the day in the exact middle of my leave.