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Well, I have to say, I don't often get presents from banks - but there they are, one bottle of 2005 Ruitersvlei Chardonnay/Chenin Blanc and one 2006 Georges Dubœuf Beaujolais Villages. I think this should happen more often. And they're not even my bank. ^_^

As brigus asked about food porn pics, here's a simple example (high res) from Friday evening. Basil papardelle with wild mushroom, caper, and artichoke sauce, asparagus, baby corn, and fillet steak (aka filet mignon). Photo courtesy of the very cool coworker and his amazing dancing Minolta A200, which I may take on a trip this weekend, if I can decide on where.

Poll #1192854 It's Eurovision Time!

Will you be watching?

With friends! And blackjack!
Probably. Cheesemas comes but once a year.
Going to a gathering, but mostly for the company.
Maybe, in the background.
Other plans!
I'll be busy pushing matchsticks under my nails.
The whosian whatsit now?

The Baltics will give douze points to:

whomever they consider the most worthy entrant

Like many others watching the British electoral scene, I was quite pleased with the recently Crewe & Nantwich result - whilst giving the Conservatives a leg up, it's sent a clear message to "New" Labour that attempting to eradicate the 10% tax rate for the lowest earners was one step too far, atop a litany of discontent with Blair, and Brown's utter failure to stand for any positive change away from those mistakes, so far removed from the promises that swept them into power. It's unfortunate the LibDems fared so poorly, but Clegg still doesn't seem to have stood for much inspiration either, seemingly also swallowing the line that the party must, for reasons unknown (and not voted for!), echo Labour's lazy - but lucrative, for those sufficiently connected - drift to the right.

Sorry about my slow replying to comments sometimes, especially those inviting a more detailed reply; they aren't forgotten.

Dalek Diary, part 1. Not a heavy-handed attempt, either.. a bit more Charlie Brooker meets mild-mannered Chris Morris. ^_^
C&N was won by the 'not Labour' candidate best placed to win. It happened to have been the Tories, elsewhere it'd have been the LibDems.

Having the Tories win a general election would be a disaster - do you think they'd be less right wing?
I'm not advocating Conservative rule, no. ^_^ But if the protest votes continued to pile up in their corner, rather than the LibDems, that's what would come about. Worryingly, there's probably a great deal of a "not Labour" sentiment, for all the reasons we're familiar with, but if the LDs don't present a more inspiring alternative, they may continue to fare poorly against the other not-Labour party.

That said, I doubt a new Conservative administration would be a repeat of the Thatcher years, let alone anything the Democrats or Republicans might dream up. It was, however, rather telling that during the 10% debacle, the Conservative leadership line was much more one of "What, they're letting their party members dissent like that? Where's their respect for their leadership?" rather than the newly respun support of lower taxation rates for low earners.
It wouldn't have to be a repeat of Thatcher... it was gentle, mild-mannered, John Major who privatised the railways. Sadly I think we are almost certain to have a Tory government with a working majority in 2010, on the "not Labour" grounds you outlined. I am not looking forward to it, so will have to take any crumbs of comfort I can find.

One of those crumbs is that the absurd ID card scheme may be obliterated - but only "may"; if you look very carefully at Tory policy, they've only promised to review it, not necessarily to stop it if it's already been implemented. Rather like Labour and the railways in 1997, actually...
Wow. That looks and sounds delightful.

So....what's for breakfast?
I was quite pleased with it. ^_^ I'd originally intended to make it a more mushroomy sauce, with some shiitake, but the artichokes just called out (and it's really distracting when they do that), and then I wondered if the capers might work well too - and indeed, they do, providing a mildly piquant sourness that counterpoints the mellow artichokes and overall nature of the sauce.

And good fillet steak.. what more need be said? =:9 I'll have to add another package of that (two similar sized cuts) to the next delivery. Irksomely, I left it too late for a Saturday delivery, so all those slots are gone, as are Sunday, and I'm planning on meeting up with the coworker on Monday for a prowl around town. (All perfectly innocent =:) Much as I enjoy rummaging through supermarkets, there's a lot to be said for a good delivery option - no need to spend time, if you're busy, and the cost's much the same (or sometimes lower) as the bus, train, or driving. Great for heavy deliveries like diet cola, beer, and cider, too. =:D

Breakfast? I remember that. ^_^ I've actually never been huge on breakfasts - most days, I'm fine with just coffee (currently merely instant, until I pick up another espresso machine. I did get one a few weeks back, but that lives in the office, which had hitherto lacked such an essential option), with the occasional need for something like apricot mini shredded wheat. It's the nighttime when my appetite kicks in - always seems to've been that way, I think. I'm much more one for Spanish than French or German dinner hours. ^_^ (Such as one time we were exploring the countryside near Benidorm, a tourist ghetto, though with quite a pleasant old town. 10pm, and the night had set in, so we stopped at a random restaurant, nowhere near anything in particular. Fairly quiet, some other people around.. over the next half hour or so, the place filled up, with children and grandparents, and everyone else, ready to enjoy a good meal. That's how to enjoy food =:)

A bank gave you wine? Is this some sort of crazy new wine bank I've not yet heard of? And I demand to know why a branch hasn't opened in my area!

Yeah, that's a pretty little dinner, there.
My Russian Night a few years ago, while consumption-wise a total fiasco, at least looked nice.

Well, there's a little tale hanging off that.. ^_^ I borrowed a little money from the company to cover the moving costs - not quite as bad as back in San Jose, but still a chunk of change. They went ahead and initiated a bank transfer, which the financial director said would arrive in my account that evening. So, having made a long-overdue visit to the optician in town, I checked my balance at an ATM to see if that had indeed worked out.

It had, but with a little more enthusiasm than I'd expected.. I now had five digits, where I'd been expecting low fours. (I spent long enough boggling at the receipt that the ATM then swallowed my card, prompting a visit to them the next day) Yes, in a Fully Automated Foolproof System, somehow an extra zero had been tacked onto the figure to be transferred. A few days later, a manager from the company's bank called up and asked nicely if they could have their ball back, please. ^_^

Aw, were the seasonings wrong? I'd like to try making some authentic Russian food sometime - I'm led to believe good боршт is simple deliciousness, and that even щи can be its own reward.
So they gave you the wine as an inconvenience gift?

No, everything was as the recipes said. I spent two days preparing that meal. I may have added too much saffron to one of them, but I think the main point is I'm not Russian. Next time I want Russian food, I'll get it from a Russian person. I only make three dishes really well. Quesadillas, Olive Garden's Zuppa Toscana and lasagna (the recipe to which I've not been able to locate).

боршт is simple deliciousness, only I simply failed to re-create its deliciousness.
I do love cabbage.
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*grin* Thanks. ^_^ I was quite surprised just how well capers work with artichoke - that's definitely a theme I'll have to revisit sometime. (Reminds me, I need to stock up again on instant soups - that wild mushroom was the last packet of its ilk, and indeed, soup)

And good fillet steak, of course.. gods, it's a real delight. I've heard some disparage it as not being as tasty as sirloin or suchlike, but frankly, I don't see it - seems every bit as well endowed with flavor, and so tender, with every morsel as prime as the whole.

Did I mention I once wrote the menus for the second restaurant we owned? ^_^ (Just the calligraphy - the 'rents decided the menu. I was always a fan of the Coquilles St Jacques. Mmmm.. if I do make a supermarket run over to the good one next town over, maybe I'll pick up some scallops)

Oh wow that looks nummy o_o

I trust these pictures will become a regular occurence? And I might have to follow suit and post some of my own, though they'll probably be more on the amature-porn side. You know the porn that's not really that attractive but at least you're trying porn ;P
Mother refused point blank to watch Eurovision, putting the 2 hour Robin Williams movie "What Dreams May Come" on instead (the one where he's a bloke who dies and goes to the afterlife"). That was the 'other plans' I put in the poll. :P
Oh, my sympathies. Not such a bad flick, but a very formulaic story - more of a showcase for CG and digital compositing than a movie as such.

Still, the voting seems to be panning out to be the most generic of all, with only Armenia displaying originality.. I certainly didn't seriously expect Greece to be leading the pack! =:P I just chose them and Denmark as being exemplary of the most generic entries. (Yet Denmark's not going anywhere)

Were you able to catch the net.feed over on the EBU site?

No, I had to catch up on Lj answering and communicate with Moth so I didn't see a net feed (or know one existed for that matter!)
Ahh.. there, you see, I could help. ^_^

Agh, true, I forgot to include the links. I should've thought to do so. Still, the event will appear in downloadable form quite soon - and worth enjoying, I'd say.

The official site is/was over here. A bit of a mess, unsurprisingly - it depends on a never-used-anywhere-else plugin, Octoshape, which apparently runs some kind of P2P scheme to make the bandwidth needs feasible across member nations, which in turn enforces a Windows Media requirement. If you can navigate your way through it all, it does wind up working quite well, even if it seems determined to fix the view to the plugin's dimensions, not full screen width.