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July 7th, 2010

11:15 am: Cabin fever

I occasionally dodge the razor on weekends, particularly weekends when I need both hands on the sink to hold me up and my hands are shaking badly enough to make the difference between shaving and suicide a matter of luck. So by the time of my next attempt, I have about three days worth of growth on my chin.

So I shave. Now I have two days growth. Shave again. 24 hours. Shave AGAIN. Now it looks like I'm at the end of a long hard day which might potentially have begun with a shave. This is where I generally say 'fuck it' and put the next attempt off until the following morning.

How 'bout it, gents? Do you have the same experience? Or is this peculiar to my chin whiskers?

April 29th, 2010

05:42 pm: Cheese before bedtime

I had a weird dream last night that took the form of a conversation between me and a shady guy in an Unlisted Government Office somewhere...

Him: "As director of the national mint I would like to welcome you, the world's foremost criminal investigator, to our facility even though I don't think we need you to look into the theft of a hundred of our new ten-thousand-dollar bills which are printed on cloth instead of paper."

Me: "As the world's foremost criminal investigator, I would like to thank you. That's a nice shirt, by the way. I notice it matches the colours of the new cloth bills. And that it's hand-sewn. And that there's a regular white shirt in your wastepaper bin."

Him: "Before you begin investigating, I'd like you to join us in one of our regular staff team-building exercises."

Me: "Well, I--"

Him: "Gladiatorial combat! It'll be fun."

Me: "Um."

Him: "Weapons are chosen at random, that's why your opponents have an array of wicked-looking sharp things and you have a packet of chocolate biscuits."

Me: [to approaching gladiator] "BACK OFF, MAN! I'm not afraid to use this Tim-Tam. I mean it!"

March 15th, 2010

02:33 pm: Ouch

I was blissfully asleep Saturday night when Louise, feeling the chill, reached down to pull the covers up. Only she was half-asleep herself, and what she actually yanked up to her chin... was a handful of my chest hair.

0.2 seconds later, we were both WIDE AWAKE.

February 21st, 2010

11:17 am: Beer bread

Every so often I like to bake myself some bread. I don't know where this urge came from or if it's slowly turning me into my great uncle Rodney who liked to wear a dress and chat up sailors on the waterfront, but it means I get to experiment with chemicals in the kitchen and occasionally eat some pretty good bread.

Thing is, making bread is work. First there's the mixing, where your ingredients turn basically turn to glue which you then have to mix some more because you still have another couple cups of flour to go into the dough, then the kneading to get it to a consistent texture all the way through, then the punching down of the dough once it's risen (seriously, you beat that dough like a red-headed stepchild) before transferring it to the pans and into the oven.

Recently I found myself watching Off The Radar, having bought myself the box set for Christmas. Radar himself is just as annoying as I've always found him, but it's a fascinating celebri-doco-whatsit. And one of the things mentioned in it is beer bread, which apparently is the easiest bread recipe there is. I decided I would try it. The recipe on the website is a bit suspect, because my oven doesn't even go to 400 degrees celcius, so I looked up another one on the internet.

Beer bread is essentially what the Irish call soda bread, with added beer. In traditional bread, you rely on yeast to make the dough rise, which is why you have the kneading and leaving on the bench under a wet towel, etc. It gives the yeast time to convert the sugar you added to the mix into carbon dioxide, forming the bubbles in the dough. Soda bread relies on baking powder for the same thing -- a mixture of baking soda and tataric acid, which chemically reacts when wet to make carbon dioxide.

Thing is, without yeast in the mix, soda bread doesn't taste like bread. But do you know what else has a vaguely yeasty taste? Beer! By adding it to the mix, you get that bread flavour you'd otherwise be missing. I bought Speights Gold Medal Ale so I wouldn't be tempted to drink it. This was baking beer, not drinking beer.

My first attempt didn't turn out exactly as I might have hoped. The recipe called for the beer to be made up to a full 400 ml by adding water before mixing with the flour, baking soda and salt. I didn't have a measuring jug (most of my kitchen stuff vanished while I was moving to a new flat recently) so I had to estimate using a coffee cup. It's entirely possible I made the beer up to 500 ml, which could explain why my dough was runny rather than sticky, and why after 45 minutes in the oven it was still half-liquid in the centre.

I punched holes in the crust to let the steam out and gave it another 45 minutes, which successfully cooked the centre but also gave the loaf a crust like sheet metal. Also, the beer flavour comes through in the bread exactly the way it tastes in the bottle, which means I have a loaf that tastes like a beer I won't drink.

It was just as advertised though, so I think the experiments will continue.

Making beer bread

3 cups flour (any kind -- white, whole grain, whatever you prefer)
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 can or bottle of a beer you wouldn't mind drinking (don't worry about driving after eating your bread, the alcohol cooks out while it's in the oven)

These quantities are for a single medium loaf. Change the quantities proportionally to however much you want to make

Mix everything. Put it in a bread tin. Chuck it in an oven you've pre-heated to 200 degrees. Come back in 45 minutes. Let the bread cool in the pan for ten minutes, then on a plate for another ten. Then eat the bread and drink the remaining beer.

January 6th, 2010

12:41 pm: Tact is not my strong point

I need to think of a tactful way to say "please stop explaining the sexual habits of furries to my friends, yes I know they have it all wrong and the reality is much less disturbing, but even so, I think it's a topic that's better avoided".

This could take me a while.

December 21st, 2009

10:24 pm: Last of the great romantics

So, I got my girl an 8GB flash drive with a suite of antivirus and malware tools,complete with application menu personalised with her photo, forum handle and wallpaper.

Yeah, there may be no hope for me.

November 24th, 2009

08:58 pm: On the horns of a dilemma

A zip broke on my work bag. There's a compartment I can't get open. And I have a ripe banana in there.

I have about... 48 hours to solve this problem before it compounds into an even more urgent problem.

What would MacGyver do?

November 13th, 2009

06:30 pm: Your tinfoil hat is HAUNTED

This week my co-workers have decided that global warming doesn't exist (it's a hoax perpetrated by the governments of the world to justify raising taxes) and that it does exist but it's the fault of scientists.

In the same time frame, they've realised that vaccinations give you the disease they're supposed to protect you against and incompetent medical scientists (who are sharp enough to organise a world-spanning conspiracy) are covering it up, and also that vaccinations aren't disease-related at all, but actually a trick by the Jewish masters of the New World Order to inject us all with identifying tags.

By the way, did you know that Chinese people are cannibals? I didn't. But a guy in the internet said it, so it must be true.

Today my boss spent two hours on the dock (which also happens to be our office) giggling and smashing stuff destined for the recycling skips.

I'm going to pour myself into a bottle now. I may be out of contact for a little while.

August 6th, 2009

09:28 am: Where's my tinfoil hat?

I'm not popular in the office today. I'm the only one who doesn't believe satanic cults in Britain are kidnapping kids for ritual sacrifice based on what some guy on the internet said.

I even went so far as to call it 'bullshit'. I am clearly not Thinking Of The Children.

(Only sane one in the asylum.)

August 4th, 2009

10:51 am: No one-handed typing jokes please

Crushed a couple of fingers under a stack of PCs. I can move 'em again now, but I have a lovely big black bruise under the fingernails.

FUCK August.

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