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Be sure you're logged in, as there's a friends-only entry from a couple days ago. ^_^ (On which note, having viewed the first set of proofs - I may have to offer a 36x24" of Marin's End. I'd really only ordered it for myself, to see how well it would print at that scale - but.. it's gorgeous! It really calls out to be seen at that kind of size)

You've probably not seen a set of ads for bananas quite like this. Needless to say, they're Japanese. ^_^

Here's a grand list of photographic documentaries, ranging from the early pioneers, to war photographers, Ansel Adams, Annie Liebovitz, and more, including YouTube links for all of them.

What's more adorable than meerkats? How about baby meerkats in Botswana, courtesy of wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas?

If you're in the UK, do you have any recommendations for a futon supplier? They're vastly less convenient to source than in the Bay. =:P Most of those I've seen from the usual race-to-the-bottom vendors appear to be effectively for ornamental purposes only. On that note, does anyone have words for particularly fluffy pillows, or shiny sheets?

iOS game of the month has to be Monument Valley, a sort of puzzle platformer, quite gorgeously playing with isometric perspective. It'd be a very attractively designed game without that crucial twist, but with, it's quite an original design, commendably realised. Its trailer gives some idea of what to expect.

I hadn't realised CloudFlare offer a free level of service - quite impressive, given what they can do to avoid DDoS attacks. That's obviously not for business use, as noted by the exclusion of SSL support at that level, but the lowest paid offering is $20/mo for the first website, $5/mo for additionals - perfectly reasonable for any commercial entity. The free service would be easily worthwhile simply for the DNS support, let alone their ability to ensure your site can withstand any amount of traffic tomfoolery - they have some quite extreme bandwidth available to absorb any attack.

That came from a thread on DynDNS finally outright ending their free domain support - not a surprise, really, following their purchase of EasyDNS, and their subsequent actions in ceasing opening new free accounts. (I'm the first to support paying for services, rather than placing them at the surveillance of advertisers, but for modestly trafficked personal websites, the burden on a DNS provider is quite light) Meanwhile, other reputable free options include FreeDNS and yDNS.

I see what poliphilo meant about the vitality of MasterChef! It's surprisingly engaging. True, it helps to have an interest in good food, but as much as anything, for me, it's about these hopefuls all displaying their passion, enthusiasm, and often, talent. That kind of energy is a real delight to witness, let alone the often remarkable dishes created. FWIW, there's also a sort of soundtrack available, "Cut the Tension". Quite a few fun highlights, I'd say, including track 4, "Heal the Breach", and track 10, "The Inquisitor". Get some good headphones on, bump the volume up, and have at it. =:D (One caveat: unfortunately, the current upload of the first track cuts to silence about 46s in. However, Apple support were entirely understanding, and refunded not just the cost of the one track, but the entire album!) Out of curiosity, does anyone know how far ahead the show's recorded? Has the winner of MasterChef 2014 already been annointed?

Thus far, I've enjoyed the most recent three series: the "normal" one from 2013, the Professionals, and Celebrity. The winner of the latter quite tickled me, but the former - ye gods, what an astounding contest that was! Truly, an impossible decision at the end, with all three finalists displaying skill many professionals would be envious of, technically and imaginatively.

2013's Masterchef Professionals also proved worthy. Having watched the second semi-final, wherein "Luke" was eliminated, I wondered what he was up to now - and a quick search showed he's at The Victoria, a gastropub just on the edge of Richmond Park. And lo, a couple of his signature dishes are on there, notably the semi-final dish: "Pan roasted guinea fowl, spiced pastilla, wilted spinach, smoked aubergine, golden raisin & harrisa jus". Which looked absolutely superb, and despite the complexity, married the spices with the flair he'd exhibited throughout the competition. I'm delighted to realise I'll be able to try it for myself. ^_^ (Love the idea behind the first round of the finals.. previously, as you'd expect, they'd always had whatever great ingredients they'd been offered, or requested. This time around.. pretty much the opposite, including vegetable trimmings, over-ripe Brie and fruit, meat bones, and a cod head, from which to create two perfect dishes) And then, they're given over to Massimo Bottura, of Osteria Francescana, holder of three Michelin stars. (For reference, it's series 6, episode 22; you can download it here) And ye gods, what a fantastic guy! I adore his passion for food! It absolutely shines through. Even if all you ate were McDonalds, you'd have to be dead not to be illuminated by that zest for life. =:D (So, I suppose, if I ever happen to find myself in Moderna, I'd have to go there.. I really like his unorthodox style, and of course, scintillating creativity. And looking at the menu options - yep, easily done. Not cheap, but for such top-tier wonderment - it'd be a night to remember for years. How about it, pawnytail?)

Let it be known, however, that I shall be applying to have the word "gutted" removed from the English language, on the grounds of deserving an honorable retirement at the hands of tragic overuse. Rare indeed was the contestant who left without its use. All the same, another thing that impresses me with the show is the superb cameraderie exhibited - they may all be vying for the one award, but they'll all congratulate and commiserate together, whoever's leaving or has gone through.

I've got to ask - what kind of cooking do you really enjoy engaging in? Is there a special favorite you keep coming back to? For my part, as a complete rank amateur, I'm quite a fan of light Thai curries and stir-fries - my style involves no oil, with the meat cooked either dry, in a bit of milk, or glazed in a sweet liqueur like Drambuie or Jack Daniels Honey, then adding milk for the body of the sauce, and then whatever spicing and vegetables (Sainsbury's vegetable mix is a handy combo, including a nice pepper and stalk of lemongrass, plus baby corn, baby broccoli, and mangetout). For the spices, I'm a fan of galangal (just powder, out of convenience), and Bart Spices' Berbere seasoning is one of the most fragrant blends I've tried. Potted curry pastes can be excellent, too, and of course, fish sauce and oyster sauce will often figure in.

The title of this entry, FWIW, is the result of a curious accident of timing yesterday. With the weather being a bit dull, but dry, I thought it'd be a good day to go on a bit of a stroll, to wind up at one of my favorite watering holes for dinner (gravlax, duck leg, bread & butter pudding =:9). My booking was for 6pm, and I set off around 3.30pm, with the intent of just enjoying some new footpaths and sights, maybe arriving a bit early. I arrived at 1800 precisely, quite accidentally. ^_^;
You've probably not seen a set of ads for bananas quite like this. Needless to say, they're Japanese. ^_^

Funny, yes. :) Of course, ads like these always make me wonder whether they're real, or whether they're spoofs produced for Japanese TV shows that merely parody ads and that only get taken at face value by people like us because we don't know better.

What's more adorable than meerkats? How about baby meerkats in Botswana, courtesy of wildlife photographer Will Burrard-Lucas?

Hmm, 404. (Although the entry's still listed here; he must've deleted it.)

Let it be known, however, that I shall be applying to have the word "gutted" removed from the English language, on the grounds of deserving an honorable retirement at the hands of tragic overuse.

Well, I'm simply gutted to hear that! :)
Oh, I'm fine with accepting their authenticity. ^_^ Japan does tend to have an often surreal sense of humor, as if born into being by Terry Gilliam after much good tequila. (Not that I have any idea of his preferences in that regard. I do so hope it isn't just Bud Lite or something nasty =:)

Odd! The meerkats seem fine from here, and for huskyteer - maybe just a transient issue with the site while some files got moved around?

*throws pillows*
Odd! The meerkats seem fine from here, and for huskyteer - maybe just a transient issue with the site while some files got moved around?

Hmm, yeah, it's working again now.

*throws pillows*

Those baby meerkats are adorable!

(Some of my favourite animal photos: http://www.ethiopianwolfproject.com)
I suppose a supertelephoto lens does afford a perfectly good vantage point - it'd be silly not to take advantage of it. =:D (Not an issue I encounter with my buns. If only! =:)

Ahh, yes, he's part of that venture! And I see you're a listed supporter, too. ^_^

And what do you enjoy cooking, btw? ^_^
Pasta. I'm safe with pasta :) Or a nice risotto - much of my proper cooking is Italian.
Having seen it done on MasterChef quite a few times, I've got to ask: do you make your own? It looks pretty straightforward, though I'd have to obtain a roller. I just remember the fettucini at Molinari's deli back in SF - even by itself, nothing else, it was tasty! And making my own would mean being able to make ravioli that really taste of what they claim, rather than the usual sawdust flavors from the supermarkets.

Ooo, risotto. =:9 (And its Iberian cousin, paella.. damn, now I'm wondering how much a city break in Madrid costs)
Good Heavens no. My former flatmate had a pasta maker. He lived on spaghetti for about a month, then the machine sat around gathering dust :)

I've had a crack at making gnocchi but they were less than satisfactory.
Japan, u mad!

Hah, funny you should mention futons. Wanted to purchase one myself, since they are normally a bed of choice in Poland, one of the most popular designs. Couldn't find any noteworthy offers in the UK, none. There has to be an embargo on them or something...

My sister is a massive Masterchef fan...I just don't have to watch tv :P But as for cooking, for me it's the time that matters most. So casseroles of all sorts are always high on my list. I'm pretty good with Polish, Italian and seafood, basically just give me something and I'll make something edible out of it ;)
On a vaguely related note, I don't suppose you (or the pup) might have any recommendations for a self-paced language course? I'd quite like to learn at least some basic Japanese, but given I don't know where I'll be on a long-term basis (plus shyness), I'm not sure evening classes would work. (Actually, having said that, Human Japanese on the iPad's feeling quite good. I may plump for the full version, which is still dirt cheap)

It isn't just me! ^_^; I remember looking through Argos' offerings (not a company I'll do business with now, given their use of workfare), and seeing every single one of their futons with a "casual use only" disclaimer. *sigh* Such a pity. It's not an urgent matter, to be sure, but I do miss mine - one abandoned in San Diego, the other stuffed into storage in the Bay.

Do you tend to use a slow cooker, or a more traditional casserole dish in a low oven? I've had great success with the former - beautifully convenient, too, as you can just pop whatever on in the morning, and have it waiting to finish up with the late spices or sauces when you get back in the evening. Reminds me, I really ought to make slow-cooked pork again sometime.. so easy to do, and so very tasty. =:9

I used to watch quite a lot of films and TV, but that sort of fell away over the past decade. Now, I'm usually much more interested in keeping up with LJ, with people I actually know, rather than the passivity of TV. Still, there are obvious exceptions, including MasterChef, Doctor Who, and ponies. ^_^

I've long maintained some furcon ought to hold an Iron Chef event. We could have some great stuff prepared! =:D Maybe I'll hold another furmeet someday, with the stipulation that everyone brings something they've made, or at least had someone else make for them. =:) I used to really enjoy the potluck events held by a couple past employers - so much more interesting than people just bringing bags or boxes bought from a supermarket!

Will we maybe see more food photography from you? ^_^
Some recent trends in language learning are Pimsleur and Rosetta .... :>
Alas, tiz still sad to see DynDns abandon the free one.. They've been around since the Win95 days :D .. (though I haven't personally used the service in quite a while)..

Thanx for all the other nifty snippets too! *hugs*
My "pyesetz.net" website uses AFRAID for its free DNS service.