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Saturday evening a fortnight ago was - well, the first time I've been up on stage in a long while, and absolutely the first time in order to sample freshly prepared Indian cooking. ^_^ It was a fun evening indeed, going deep into the tribulations of being a Sikh growing up in Scotland, with the considerable (and sometimes perilous) cultural heritage involved. As a result of placing my paw up a little too high on one occasion, I wound up being invited, along with two other similarly foolhardy souls, on stage to test - blindfolded - his version of a highly spicy garlic chicken, versus one ordered from a good local Indian joint, and delivered also on stage. ^_^; (And a decent place, but, as he noted, inevitably having to compromise on making one or two basic spice mixes for heat, and splitting that across all the dishes, pre-made - it's not going to be simmered for a couple of hours, if it's delivered to your table in twenty minutes)

The taste testing! Yes. *cough* We put the blindfolds on, and were guided to pick up our first dish. It was - very pleasant, but.. not that special. Nicely rounded. The second - well, that was night and day. Pungent, aromatic, leaping out with freshness. The first, we rated 6/4/6, the latter a uniform 9/9/9. It turned out that the second was his own, to the surprise of none of us. =:) The fun icing on the cake? As spicy as the latter was, it involved no chillis whatsoever - just industrial quantities of black pepper. (And, amongst the enlightenment of the evening, he noted that said peppers were, in fact, originally exported to India from England, fresh from South America - and vigorously adopted. The cultural exchange has hardly ended, too, with the Indian/Pakistani influx of recent decades. We were asked what percentage of delivered food that night would be Indian, across the UK - the person tasked with answering gave a very plausible response of 10%. Apparently, it's more like 70%! And not, as he noted, out of failings in British cooking - and if you doubt that, you do need to try something like pork belly with black pudding and red cabbage, or braised lamb shanks with rosemary and garlic)

So, Phantom's not been resting on their laurels. If you've been yearning for high framerates, but feeling the need for higher resolution - how about the Phantom Flex 4K? At full resolution, 4096x2304, you'll receive 900fps, ascending to 3000fps at 1280x720. Needless to say, perhaps, that's at quite good standards of recording. I do, admittedly, aspire, to wield such a camera someday - but even aside from the extraordinary expense (around $109k+, for the body), there are considerations of the ancillary equipment involved. Still.. damn, wouldn't it be amazing to capture some frenetic bun activity at 4K, at 3000fps? =:D And unsurprisingly, it can accept Nikon F lenses, so the Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 + 2x TC would be viable..

Hey, it's a nice dream. ^_^

Still, I wonder.. maybe one of the project partners.. eh, probably not. Such equipment probably doesn't get loaned out, even if it's ever idle.

But.. I do want to see a bun chase, or even flight, in such glorious resolution.. =:D

It's been interesting (well, to me =:) to see how the population of the local rabbits gently circulates. When I first paid photographic attention to them here, about two years ago, the main venue was quite close to the bus stop, by the entry point for the owners into that field. Later, I started seeing activity a bit further down, conveniently set off from the road a little, with a touch of seclusion. Other than that, not much - I might see the odd bun along the pathway looping back, but seldom more than one. A few months later, that original spot seemed abandoned, seemingly synchronised with the owners mowing the field, whilst the latter sprang into life, becoming my mainstay for leporine observation. That, unfortunately, came to an end in October 2012, with the erection of a large haystack precisely where they used to be. =:P

A few times, though, I saw some a little further up, just the other side of the gate I'd rest upon - but that was a relatively occasional thing, but enough to reassure me they were still around. ^_^ More recently, I've found much more luck a little further around the road, just where it diverges into the footpath. The buns are rather more skittish than I've been accustomed to, but, I've managed the odd worthwhile shot regardless. And, in the past week or two, there's been rather more activity in a couple other spots as well - one a small field used for, I believe, antenna testing by a defense contractor (so, a bit of an awkward spot to go photographing with a not very inconspicuous lens.. if I go silent, that may be why =:), and along the joining footpath, where I even caught a couple young buns out on the path itself, though from a reasonable distance away. But to see such a moment was quite a privilege. ^_^

And really - when the sky's so bright, and you can see tinybuns coming into the world.. certainly, there are terrible problems in the world (and I'll not refrain from pointing them out! To do otherwise would be a dereliction of duty as a citizen of the world), but there's also such wonder.



Anyway. Here's a set of four particularly well done tribute strips: "Hobbes and Bacon". first, second, third, fourth. (Somehow fitting that the fourth is followed only by that strip's final fling)

If you've got a minute to spare, consider taking this Pew Research/Smithsonian quiz on basic scientific knowledge. It's only 13 questions, all multiple choice, with 2-4 options each. At the end, it provides a barchart of what percentage answered how many correctly, along with more detailed breakdowns per question. It'll work fine on mobile devices and desktop alike, too, with the former receiving wide touch areas, and the latter plain radio buttons.

It's been confirmed: the Doctor is returning to the Proms, with two performances, at 7.30pm on Saturday, 13 July 2013 (tickets £14-57), followed by another the following day, at 10.30am. It looks like tickets go on sale at 9am on Saturday, May 11 - perhaps needless to say, if you're hoping to go along to this, you'll need to be ready right then, as they've previously sold out within minutes.

A rather nifty concept for a wildlife-themed game: Shelter, from Might and Delight, coming for OS X and Windows in "late Summer 2013". The trailer gives you some idea of what to expect - you play a mother badger, who must seek out new shelter for her cubs, avoiding the perils that await.

And then there's Paper Fox (iOS Universal), a cross between an interactive storybook and adventure, with a rather appealing style, wherein all you see, including the inhabitants, is rendered origami style. It's a free download, giving you the first two chapters, with the rest unlocked with a $3 IAP.



huskyteer might be interested in Jolly Rover, a Mac/PC graphic adventure, set in a completely canid world. ^_^ The trailer does a very good job of encapsulating the experience, and if you want to buy it, it's available on Steam over here, for a mere £5/$9. (And if you don't already have it - I've got it on the iPad - I can certainly recommend the suggested bundle, adding MacGuffin's Curse, starring someone who can turn into a werewolf on demand. He's then much stronger, but can't touch water, adding complexity to the many rooms' puzzles)

If you've got time for a thirty minute spoken podcast, give this a try, courtesy of the London Review of Books: August Kleinzahler, from January 24 2013. You may find yourself caught up in the scene being painted quite quickly.

I was rather pleased to see there's a line of officially blessed Grandville gaming miniatures underway, courtesy of Broken Dice. ^_^ The first two, of course, are Inspector LeBrock and D.I. Ratzi - and they're looking very good. If the company's other prices are any gauge, they'll be entirely affordable, as well.

Here's a trailer for Kairos volume 1, a French graphic novel, by Ulysse Malassagne. The animation's from a small Paris-based studio, founded by four Gobelins graduates - all hand-drawn, and an exciting two-minute ride. =:D Might anyone know if it's liable to see translation into other languages? (Not that I'd mind brushing up my French..)

An interesting option for anyone with an interest in how bands sound (and look!) live - Concert Vault's offering a very large library of performances from the 1950s to the present day. "The recordings cover a wide array of genres –- for example, you can find concerts from Pink Floyd at Oakland Coliseum Arena in 1977 and the Grateful Dead at Fillmore East in 1970 to The Lumineers at South by Southwest in 2012." It seems to be primarily a subscription-based streaming service, though there do seem to be downloads available as well - membership benefits are noted as including two free featured downloads a week, picked by the editors. Mobile apps are available, perhaps not surprisingly, for iPad, iPhone, and Android. Membership runs $4/mo or $40/yr, or £2.50/mo or £28/yr.

Ancient Scripts is a quite superbly fascinating site, collecting the specifics and history of what would seem to be all known writing systems, from the first to the current day, worldwide. And in a similar vein, there's also Omniglot.

If you're pondering attending Worldcon 2014, aka Loncon 3, you might like to know they're offering the option of paying in multiple steps - quarterly or monthly - whilst taking advantage of the current price; until the end of April, a full adult membership is £95 or $160. GoHs include veteran comics artist par excellence, Bryan Talbot.

I'm probably about the last fur on the planet to hear about it, but, Double Rainboom is a full length fan-made MLP:FiM episode. =:D (Actually, slightly more than full length, at 29 minutes!)

Potato Otter's finally taken the plunge, and made a design available as a t-shirt - for your delight and edification: "Legalize Ott", complete with goofy otter. You know you want one. ^_^

A scientific campaign you may wish to help with: Restore the Clark, Lowell Observatory's 117-year old telescope. Being on IndieGoGo as a flexible campaign, all donations go to them regardless of the total amount raised.

Well.. I'm hoping the D90's not feeling poorly. =:P I was out and about in the countryside, taking advantage of a rare day of blue sky, had just taken a shot of a red kite, and was gently swinging the camera back to usual holding position (carried by the lens handle), when I heard a clunking, as if it'd just taken another shot by itself. O.o Looked at the top LCD, and it showed the dreaded "Err", which is a catch-all for "well, something's up". What specifically didn't take long to discover, when I looked through the viewfinder and saw nothing. Took the lens off, and indeed, the mirror was up. Erk! Tried a couple obvious things, like swapping another lens on, taking the battery out, but nothing seemed to make any difference. I was getting a bit worried, researching the problem and finding just how vague the error really was, when eventually, trying to take another shot actually worked - and without even wasting an exposure. =:) But, I'm not certain all is well, just yet, as there did seem to be a couple occasions later on when AF didn't engage. It seems fine back home, with all the lenses, so hopefully it'll turn out to just be a glitch, but that's left me a bit nervous. The D90's shutter's nominally rated for around 100,000 actuations, and it's over the 80k mark, so it's not impossible that's starting to get finicky.. ah well. Hopefully it'll last at least until Autumn, when I might be able to pick up a used D7100, whose AF module would seem to be a significant step up, in particular.

Another few outings later, and I'm feeling somewhat more confident that it was indeed just One Of Those Things. However, the new 120-300mm might be playing up instead, now, sometimes being reluctant to focus closer than around 10-15m. Not an urgent issue for me, as most of the time, my targets are further away than that - but there have been a few occasions recently where I've nonetheless managed to glimpse, and capture, buns slightly closer than that, to.. some good effect. ^_^ Still, if I do need to send it back, that's not a problem - whilst it was used (and thus, rather cheaper than new, though it's now discontinued, with Sigma having recently announced a new version), it was from a good dealer, which offers a six month warranty on everything, so I'll be covered.



Mark Steel came up with a sparklingly sharp piece in the Independent recently:
In a couple of weeks, the economy will be put right.
Because at last cuts such as the “bedroom tax” and universal tax credit come in, so we’ll finally get some money back off the richest people in this country – the poor. Any glance at our society makes it obvious who’s run up all the debts; the poor, that’s who, swanning around in charity shop cardigans and galavanting on shopping expeditions like the women in Sex and the City, squealing “Hey let’s go to Poundland and buy a dishcloth”, in ways the rich can barely dream of.

It’s an imaginative approach, because less qualified types might imagine the banking crisis may have been caused, in some part, by bankers. But it takes a trained mind to understand that the people who robbed us are the poor. If a government minister stormed into a bank in the middle of an armed robbery, he’d yell: “There are the robbers; those bastards lying on the floor tied up and snivelling that they don’t want to die. And someone help out this man, the poor chap’s trying to carry a sack AND a sawn-off shotgun, he’ll pull a muscle.”
It’s a tricky argument to pull off, that the poor caused the debt so they should pay it back. Maybe that’s why most weeks there are stories in certain newspapers about a woman with 45 kids on benefits, who then bought a giraffe and now that’s on benefits but she said it was cramped so the council has put it up in the Shard, and two of the kids have got Compulsive Potting Disorder so they’ve been given a snooker table but she couldn’t be referee because she’s allergic to white gloves so the mayor has to do it, otherwise he’d be put in jail by Europe.


Once very common, Britain's brown hare population has slumped in recent years. Here's an excellent pamphlet outlining the problem, and what can be done to help.

The roomie and I headed down to Borough Market back in January, to prowl around the wondrous selections of meats, cheeses, beer, cider, coffee, and prepared dishes. Not the same stuff you'll find in any old supermarket, either. =:9



With the diet in effect, I couldn't really buy all that much - we settled on some meats from a French vendor, securing 300g of juniper & spruce smoked ham, 200g of smoked air-dried beef (in a similar way to bresaola), and 100g of a meat similar to Parma ham, whilst he also picked up some salami, including duck and wild boar. In the beer line, however, I was free to do some damage. =:) Quite a selection of Scotch, English, German, Belgian, and American beers, plus some others - again, not exactly your typical offerings, including three of Brew Dog's Abstrakt line (9, 10, and 11), St Bernardus Abt.12, and.. well, more. The star for me was Brew Dog's Tokyo, an Imperial Stout made with jasmine and cranberries, dry hopped, and aged on oak chips, weighing in at a formidable 18.2%. "It is all about moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times."

After a good while perusing all on offer (yes, there's a chance I'll be back), the roomie thought something for lunch mightn't be a bad idea. With a few bags in tow, the pub across the road seemed like a fair option, and indeed, their steak & ale pie did not disappoint. =:9

We'd hoped to visit a sushi joint I'd located, which feels like it might offer a good selection at sane prices, but with time getting on, and the end destination of the Lowlander beckoning, we agreed trying another nearby pub might be an easy and tasty option. Only, unfortunately, to find they only open during the week. But, it did afford a rather sombre photo opportunity, with a very London juxtaposition: one of the city's old boneyards - an unconsecrated graveyard for paupers and "undesirables" - with one of its newest skyscrapers, the Shard, in the background.



Finally, the Lowlander! A Belgian style bar, with a notable selection of ales available, mostly bottled, but also a dozen or so taps, plus a tasty, authentic menu. It's not a cheap place, unfortunately, but for a once in a while outing in a central location, you could do much worse. ^_^ We went for the sausage sharing platter, followed by a supremely decadent dessert of skewers of marshmallow, brownie, and waffle, alongside slices of strawberry, a pile of mini cinnamon doughnuts, and caramel and chocolate dips.

We left satisfied. ^_^ (If you're planning on going in a group, you'd be well advised to book - even at 5pm, there was very little space. If we'd been more than just two people, there'd have been a wait to get seated. They don't appear to be going out of business any time soon =:) That said, I'll be returning to the White Horse more often than the Lowlander, for the cozier feel - you can, of course, choose to be out in the middle of it all, in the main bar area, but if you're eating, it'll be much easier to hold conversations in the small dining area.



So, it would seem that if you're wanting to subscribe to an ongoing BBC show, it's better to pick up an iTunes Season Pass from the US rather than UK store - not only may it prove slightly cheaper, even after allowing for VAT, but new episodes will appears soon after transmission, rather than a week later, presumably once the iPlayer period expires. However, you may have to contend with sub-par framerate conversion, and even the occasional audio problem, as with "Cold War", initially released with only stereo audio, rather than 5.1. One might think broadcasters would check files before releasing them, but.. well, Hasbro managed to offer up four bad files in the most recent season of thirteen episodes. Corrected later, and refunded, but still, hardly ideal.

Potentially convenient site of the day: TrainTimes, intended to offer an "accessible" version of National Rail Enquiries, but as it's intentionally coded very leanly, it's also ideal for mobile devices.

Can I make a plea for a specific film? ^_^; I saw it way back when, on one of those chunky tape-filled video cartridges, but owing to its.. distinguished status, it's very difficult to locate a copy, not helped by the fact it's never seen a digital release. "Armageddon: the Final Challenge" is what I seek. It begins quite enjoyably, like a low-rent Max Headroom, but then quickly dives into a very cheap offcut of Blade Runner. The ending seals its position as an exceptionally good bad film - I shan't give it away, although this detailed (and fun!) review does cover it. Actually, you might as well just watch that, rather than the whole thing, as it's fairly liberally padded out - twenty minutes does cover all the *ahem* action. Still, I'd enjoy picking up a copy - preferably digitally, as I don't have any tape equipment.

Some enterprising programmer took a Nemesis printed dice-RPG game 2000AD printed way back, and turned it into a Flash application, which Bryan Talbot's fan site is now hosting: You Are Torquemada, Grand Master of Termight. ^_^

Wow. I think I'm all caught up with my posting backlog!

*flumps into bunnyheap*
 
 
 
 
 
 
We were asked what percentage of delivered food that night would be Indian, across the UK - the person tasked with answering gave a very plausible response of 10%. Apparently, it's more like 70%!

I think that probably has something to do with the fact that (for example) fish and chips are virtually never delivered, and nor (in this town, anyway) is Chinese food. The only meals I know of that are regularly delivered around here are Indian and pizza.

consider taking this Pew Research/Smithsonian quiz on basic scientific knowledge

Phew, I'm glad I didn't get any of those wrong! I was pretty shocked to see, in the breakdown at the end, that only 20% of people knew that nitrogen was the most common gas in Earth's atmosphere. I've known that since early middle school, at least.

Double Rainboom is a full length fan-made MLP:FiM episode. =:D

Well... sort of. I don't know whether you've seen it, so I'll avoid spoilers, but if not there's a surprise -- which may or may not go down well. Personally, I think the shorter (half-length) but marginally earlier-released Snowdrop (spoilers in link!) is more satisfying.

Edited at 2013-04-27 04:06 pm (UTC)
I wonder why f&c's almost never delivered? Even kebabs and chicken receive the honors (such as they are). True, it's best eaten straight away, but neither would it not survive a journey, as it may indeed often do anyway, if you're picking some up to bring back home, say.

Chinese.. hm. I think the places around here do, but I've not paid much attention to that side of things, given the diet, and the fact I can prepare some quite tasty dishes anyway, often of a (completely unauthentic) East Asian nature. Not that the local joints are all that noteworthy, anyhow.

A valid point all the same. ^_^

I was rather surprised that the atmospheric composition was so poorly answered, indeed. Lasers - well, I don't expect the general public to know how lasers work, but I'd've thought all the cinematic/TV imagery of meshes of lasers guarding jewels, or bright beams blowing things up or threatening to carve into secret agents, would link lasers to light, not sound.. but, maybe the same is responsible for the wrong answer, courtesy of the usual "PEW PEW PEW" sound effects?

Certainly, I'd really like to see more than 2/3 of the populace be able to answer all of those correctly.

I haven't seen Snowdrop, no - it sounded a bit too tragic for me.
I haven't seen Snowdrop, no - it sounded a bit too tragic for me.

I'm not sure I'd call it tragic exactly. It's certainly sad in places, but it's far from devoid of hope. I found it remarkably moving, considering what it is. In technical terms it doesn't match up to (the much shorter) Picture Perfect Pony, but as a story I think it may be the most satisfying pony fan film I've yet seen.
Mmm.. yes, I suppose I ought to try it out. Certainly, if it avoids being too manipulative of one's feelings (mine can be a little close to the surface, though it may be hard to tell online), it does look very well produced, and worthy of appreciation. I certainly don't mind melancholy, after all.

Good grief, yes.. PPP was remarkably well done indeed. And much fun. ^_^ (I wonder if Lady Gaga enjoys ponies.. =:)
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Oh, ripping show, old chap. ^_^

Surprised me, though, that all of the questions saw only around 60% or so correct answers, or worse. This really needs to improve - but how?
I was glad to see the young'uns had somewhat better scores overall. So much for the "OMG science education failing!" thing.

And yeah, I aced it. :)
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Thanks for spreading the word on Jolly Rover! I've likewise posted your links to the Grandville miniatures and the Paper Fox game to the Flayrah sidebar. :) As for French comics being translated into English... very rare, I'm afraid. It really has to be a very high quality, popular head-turning title before anyone in North America even begins to think about it. :(
Oh, cool beans. ^_^ I wonder if there are fansubs for such comics, as for anime? (And, indeed manga) Even film occasionally finds such love - I'm thinking of one tracker in particular, where it's not uncommon for admirers of particular films to take on the task of translating and timing subtitles for an entire film, which would otherwise go uncomprehended, beyond its visual beauty, by anybody not acquainted with the original language.
I got 13/13 of course.  None of the questions were even slightly hard, except for the plate tectonics one (is it actually *true* that the continents will continue to move around for millions of years into the future?  No, that's just the latest scientific estimate).
Anyway. Here's a set of four particularly well done tribute strips: "Hobbes and Bacon". first, second, third, fourth. (Somehow fitting that the fourth is followed only by that strip's final fling)

Oh, neat. :) Calvin and Suzie getting falling in love and getting married later in life? Headcanon accepted! And same for them still being silly with their lunches.

f you've got a minute to spare, consider taking this Pew Research/Smithsonian quiz on basic scientific knowledge. It's only 13 questions, all multiple choice, with 2-4 options each. At the end, it provides a barchart of what percentage answered how many correctly, along with more detailed breakdowns per question. It'll work fine on mobile devices and desktop alike, too, with the former receiving wide touch areas, and the latter plain radio buttons.

Mmm, let's see.

You answered 13 of 13 questions correctly.
You scored better than 93% of the public and the same as 7%.

Whew! Anything less would've been slightly embarassing.

Looking at the detailed breakdown of the percentages of questionees that gave the correct answer to each question, I'm really surprised that "Which gas makes up most of the Earth's atmosphere?" got such bad results — even college graduates got a mere 31%. Keeping in mind that random guessing should yield 25% correct responses, one really has to wonder.

"It is all about moderation. Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, have excess. This beer is for those times."

I don't like beer (at least the ones I've tried), but I like that quote. :)
I only recently found out about that Nemesis comic, from http://fuckyeahbritisholdschoolgaming.tumblr.com/post/47788908223/2000adonline-top-nemesis-the-warlock-as-a-young
I hate to say this but those baby buns, look tasty!
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Have you tried much of the food, or have you gone there mostly for the beer? There were some very tempting items, but the day we went, we'd wound up eating a fairly late lunch - around 3pm. We got to the Lowlander somewhere around 5.30pm, so neither of us were exactly ravenous - the sausage platter was just right, and packed with meaty goodness. =:9

'Course, there's probably a load more places I ought to try - have you got any recommendations? Ideally central-ish, but as long as it's within zones 1-6, I'm fine. (Actually, it might even cover more - I usually head in under a combined ticket including a travelcard, but don't usually venture beyond zone 2, unless my mother's staying in town, and the affordable hotels tend not to be all that central. ^_^; They've worked out well, though - first time was £40 in South Harrow, second £50 in East Ham, both very nicely appointed. I'd lean toward the second one, as it's in a thriving part of town, where the first.. well, we had to walk 15 mins to find anywhere to eat, where the second had loads of places right there. That said, the tapas bar we settled on the first time was good, and we wound up spending about double on the bar tab as for the food, exercising the barman's cocktail making skills quite extensively =:)
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Oh, I saw that trailed on Flayrah and I am very interested - disappointed it won't run on my iMac, but I might well grab it for iOS. Thanks!
I was quite startled by that quiz. At first I had to keep double-checking the answers. Not because I found them hard, but because I thought they must be trick questions. It's rather disconcerting to me that these managed to trip up so many Americans. The one glimmer of hope I see in the breakdown is that it looks like generally there are more people in the younger age brackets getting the questions right.