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Archive September 2006
Friday 29 September 2006
A quite fun short parable, with a rather celtic feel to it, courtesy of my dream of last night.

Diego and Iago are two men who often compete. They are set a challenge, to make a diorama which depicts the other in an unflattering way, to be judged by the old man of the village. The work is to be judged on quality and on content.

Diego works diligently on his piece for days, and is disconcerted to see Iago never doing any work at all on his.

Judging day comes around, and Diego presents his work to the judge, a fantastically detailed model of himself doing all the good work in the village, and Iago taking his ideas and taking credit for it, all conveyed clearly in the expressions of the figures. The judge, clearly impressed, asks Iago where his diorama is. Iago picks up Diego's, moves it across a few feet and proudly sets it down in front of himself. [00:30] [0 comments]


Friday 22 September 2006
A vaguely amusing game, inspired by annoyance at the word 'jealous' having at least three very distinct meanings which are easily confused even in context (being as best as I can distinguish them, 'possessive', 'envious' and 'afraid').

The game might be called Antosyns or Synonants. The goal is to get from a target word to one of its antonyms in as few synonym-steps as you can. For example, using thesaurus.com as the board, jealous has only one antonym, 'unconcerned'. Ignoring the fact of that being a really rubbish antonym for jealous, five minutes of poking found the path "jealous -> demanding -> tough -> callous -> unconcerned".

For multi-player play, I would suggest the rules be a time limit, and whoever calls the shortest number of steps first wins when they show their path, at timeout or when all players agree no shorter route will be found, whichever comes first. All players playing on the same word, of course; optional whether they must also play to the same antonym, or have a choice when there are more than one antonym available.

The conclusion to draw from the game is that all words mean the same, and this is why communication is a stupid mess and we need a constructed language. Is it possible to construct a usable language that won't blur words within six degrees? [13:05] [9 comments]


Thursday 14 September 2006
I've been vaguely keeping an eye on eye-mounted displays (ha ha), for a while, hoping for one to arrive that has sufficient resolution to be actually usable in place of a monitor, thus allowing me to be even more slothlike in my computer use. There is possibly the next best thing now - stereoscopic 3D at 800x600, which is an improvement on the old worse-than-640x480 types, at a reasonable-ish cost ($549), with head-tracking sensors. Combine head-tracking sensors with third party virtual desktop software and you have, apparently, a 14400x4800 desktop, albeit not all visible at once. Tempting. [15:07] [0 comments]


Monday 11 September 2006
Yesterday I learned the basics of how to build load-bearing straw-bale structures. Now you can learn in turn, an even more compact essence of the lessons, thus:
  • Straw bales are cheap, easy to heft around, and easy to work with.
  • Even a structure of load-bearing straw-bales still involves lumps of wood to compact the straw into its load-bearing form, and associated hammering of nails.
  • Straw bales are held in place, especially before compression, by the expedient method of hammering wooden stakes through them.
  • Realising you are simultaneously wearing a long trenchcoat, wearing fencing gloves, standing on a raised platform and holding aloft a mallet and long wooden stake is quite amusing.
  • Assembling a straw-bale wall is ridiculously fast, easy, and fun. Especially hammering stakes in.
  • Mixing the subsequent and necessary lime-based surface rendering coat is tiring.
  • Applying said lime-based rendering coat is messy and frustrating.
  • Learning these skills from someone whose one-room straw-bale animal-shelter building has a rotted wall that needs repairing might not be the wisest idea.
Drawbacks aside, I assume these generalisable skills will serve me well, in the upcoming event of an apocalypse that destroys and/or zombifies all existing buildings and people. I'm not sure how well a straw-bale building will do at fighting a zombified brick building, but I look forward to finding out. In a few weeks I might also go back and learn how to build timber-frame buildings, which should help if my post-apocalypse house-collection has to fight an army of either big wolves or bad wolves, but, I gather, wouldn't fare much better against big bad wolves. [01:58] [9 comments]


Thursday 31 August 2006
Today, a mediocre recipe-pair. Quite delicious, but not as delicious as any other recipe I've posted, and more effort, so it's not going to happen again. And not very funny either. I probably shouldn't even be posting it.

Vegan naan bread and split-pea, uh, stuff

Rinse 200g of split peas, then soak them for four hours, then new water and boil them for fifteen minutes, then simmer them for two hours, then drain them. You see why I'm never doing this again.

Vaguely overlapping with that, put into a bread machine the following: one-and-a-half-cups of warm soymilk (not so hot it kills the yeast), 3 teaspoons of coconut oil or margarine, 2 teaspoons of active dry yeast, a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of baking powder, 2 tablespoons of olive-oil, 2 teaspoons of sugar, a teaspoon of egg-substitute-stuff, 2 teaspoons of fake-cream-cheese-stuff, and apparently about a pound of flour - I just added flour until it become suitably doughy, with the machine doughing it. Speaking of which, turn the bread machine on in dough mode. Or! You could mix all those things together in a bowl in some appropriate order without using a bread machine. Either way, afterwards you will need to wait for a couple of hours.

Then bake the dough in flat pieces at gas mark 8 or 500F (I have no idea if these are equivalent - the recipe I was basing on said 500F, I used gas mark 8) for a few minutes. You can leave the result of that covered for as long as it takes to do everything else.

Now the stuff! Chop up and fry an onion. Pour a tin of chopped tomatoes in with them. Add a teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of turmeric, and two teaspoons of cayenne. Chop a couple of cloves of garlic and about twice that volume of ginger into slivers and put them in (or use equivalent powdered stuff, lazybones). Simmer for 15-20 minutes, then realise it boiled dry while you weren't paying attention, and tut.

Lightly toast the proto-naan to burn off the 'proto' prefix. I did it in a toaster, but if you're less lazy it would be worth doing under a grill, brushing the second side with oil and sprinkling minced garlic on it before you toast it.

Put stuff in a bowl, and eat with naan. Serves 2-3 with stuff, and 4-5 with naan; resolve this mismatch by having naan for breakfast. [23:29] [1 comment]