August 31, 2010

new york

So, we went to New York for a fortnight.
Deb kept things up to date over here:, including a Twitter feed in the side bar.
I'm far too lazy to actually write anything, so just assume that I had a great time and look at some photos:
New York 2010

Or on a map:

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June 13, 2010


One of Deb's colleagues owns a vinevard in Guildford, so on Friday night, a bunch of us went up for the night.
We had a big barbeque, plenty of wine (supplied by the host) and a nice bonfire (which is currently this site's background image).
The stars were incredible and enough to make us consider adding camping to our holiday rotation. I spent half of the night staring straight into the sky (and saw a couple of shooting stars for my trouble). I don't remember the last time I saw a night sky as clear and unpolluted as that. I'm annoyed I didn't try and take a photo, but I was enjoying it too much to bother.

In other news, it froze that night.
It made me realise how long it had been since I heard my feet crunch on frosty grass.

Here's some pics:

May 23, 2010

goodbye web albums

So, Picasa has a nice feature where you can create an album and then sync it online.
It means any album changes you make are automatically uploaded/altered online.

You can add new photos, add captions, tweak the colour.

So, what do you think happens if Picasa's database decides to get itself corrupted? The albums still displayed, but the contents had disappeared.
As the albums were set to automatically sync, what do you think happened?

Yup. 90% of the photos I've uploaded over the years have disappeared.
That wouldn't be so bad if I hadn't added the damn things, one by one into blog posts:

If I really want to get things back the way they were, it's going to cost me half a day at least.
Part of me is considering paying for hosting and creating my own site, independently of Google.

The other part is a lazy bastard.

I wonder who will win...

March 18, 2010

March 07, 2010

month of vegan - day 7

Bagels for brekkie (cinnamon and raisin this time) and the usual tea. 
Unrelated to the vegan thing, I picked up Moon on blu-ray to watch with dinner this evening. Gotta say, I was impressed. It was a simple story, but really well executed.

We went to Bread and Butter Cafe in Camberwell for lunch. They have quite a few things we're able to eat, as long as we ask then not to put parmesan on top. Deb had a pumpkin risotto that looked like baby food, but was actually really tasty. I had the first gnocchi meal that I can remember having, and it was great!
I wonder if I'm starting to pick up more subtlety in the flavours of things I eat. Not because meat was covering up things, but because at the moment, I'm much more aware of what I'm eating. Whatever the reason, it's a positive experience (it's also helped me cut down on the salt a bit too).

My boss gave me a bunch of leeks from her dad's garden, so tonight we made leek and potato soup. Yet another triumph (though it's pretty damn hard to mess up soup). Having a stick blender just makes this stuff so damn easy. You cook everything till it's soft, then blend it while it's still cooking in the pot.

Ok, I know it's not new technology, but it's still pretty cool!

Deb's starting to talk about how we can incorporate vegan... err.. vegan-ness into our lifestyle. I must not be a total convert, as the thought totally freaked me out. I'm happy to cut right back -perhaps vegan on weekdays- but I'm not quite ready to commit to something that big just yet. Fish sauce? I miss fish sauce! How the hell can anyone miss that rotten smelling shit? Blue cheese? Actually, dairy is probably the hardest thing to give up. Imagine a world without icecream, milk chocolate, full cream coffee or cheese! Yeah, doesn't sound so flash does it?

So, thus ends the first week. People said the first week would be easy, so I might update again in a week's time to see if I've started hallucinating or anything.

March 06, 2010

month of vegan - day 6

Wow, tea and toast. Bet you didn't see that coming!

We decided to do our big fruit and vege shop at the Vic Market for a change. The prices are cheaper than the Camberwell market, but you really do need to shop around. I don't know if I could be arsed doing that every week!
We had our lunch there as well, which was pretty tricky to shop for. We got a couple of juices and Deb found some lentil balls and a mixed bean salad (and pretended that she couldn't see the broad beans in there). I had a vege pizza that was the only one that didn't list cheese in the ingredients, and I couldn't see any on the cold pieces they had stacked up. I felt cheated when I bit in to find cheese in there. I wasn't going to stop eating it because the damage was done, but it made me realise how you have to pay so much attention if you're going to take this seriously. Also, it tasted really greasy and fatty. I hope all cheese doesn't taste like that when I'm allowed to eat it again.

For dinner I tried my hand at making the Japchae from the other day. I think it turned out pretty damn good. Maybe a little less oil next time though.

March 05, 2010

month of vegan - day 5

Tea and toast. If this is being vegan, I'm not going to have any problem getting through the month.

This is the 5th day at work. Not another salad or sandwich, but time for a stir fry from the local Thai place. I had green curry veges with flat rice noodles. I barely noticed the chicken was missing, and was pretty stuffed by the end of it. Workmates are starting to get used to the idea, and the weight loss I've experienced (3kg or so in the last week) has made a couple consider doing it themselves, at least for a few weeks.

I met up with Deb after work, so after catching the train home we called into a new Asian place in Camberwell to try it out. The name "Steam Soup" made me think it would serve the flavoursome Asian style soups, like Tom Yum, or Vietnamese Phở. When I got mine home and opened it up, I realised how appropriate the name really was. It had about as much flavour as steam.
This was a bowl of barely cooked mushrooms and veges in a broth that could have passed as water if you put it in a glass. Worst.soup.ever. I tried to pep it up with soy sauce, but even that didn't help much.
Maybe I should have read their website first and realised that if they put the same effort into the translation as they did the soup...

March 04, 2010

month of vegan - day 4

I think we've fallen into our old breakfast routine: toast and tea, followed by a mad scramble to ride to the gym with enough time to have a proper workout. Apart from Saturday mornings, we didn't really eat meat or eggs, so there wasn't going to be much change. I'd thought we'd be having scrambled tofu or fruit platters by now, but there just isn't enough time (unless one of us gets up at 5.30am, and that is never going to happen).

I couldn't do four days of soy coffee in a row, so popped down to the local Boost for my morning pick-me-up. My internals are definitely rearranging themselves around the new diet. Food (especially juice apparently) doesn't spend a long time inside my body any more. I guess it doesn't take as long to break it all down, strip out the nutrients and get rid of what's left. I actually feel much better during the day; I don't get lethargic after a big meal and I don't have to suck in my stomach as much.

For lunch, I went to a Korean restaurant in the city and had Japchae. It's pretty much just veges and noodles, with a soy and sesame sauce. Really tasty, I'll have to try making this at home.

Deb went out for dinner with "the girls" tonight. They went to our local Thai place, who don't seem to make anything that doesn't have fish sauce or shrimp paste in it. She had the usual green curry, but with vegetables instead of chicken. As long as she feels guilty about the fish sauce, I think it's ok :)

While she was out, I made a Korean style bibimbap, which is essentially a bunch of sautéed veges on top of a bed of rice. What makes it awesome is the chili paste I was introduced to recently. It's called gochujang, and is chilli, glutinous rice and fermented soy beans that have been left lying around for a year or so. It's not like normal chilli sauce that keeps getting hotter the more you eat. It heats up to a certain point, but kind of plateaus after that, so you don't end up with a burnt tongue at the end of the meal. Highly recommended.

I also had a bottle of wine, which may, or may not have used egg whites for fining. It's really difficult to know which producers use animal products, because it's not regulated (they aren't obliged to tell you one way or the other). We've decided to do our best, but not be obsessive about it. I'm not about to cut our options down that much.

March 03, 2010

month of vegan - day 3

Ok, so the soy coffees are pissing me off. We can make crisps taste like any flavour under the sun, but can't make soy milk taste like milk? I thought soy could be bent to the will of food scientists to taste like anything! Why does this stuff taste like hazelnuts??


Just peanut butter on toast for brekkie with a pot of black tea. I think I actually prefer tea without milk. It makes me feel like an English cowboy for some reason.

We seem to have run out of fruit and veges much faster than I expected. We're out of the basic salad materials already, so it's just a sandwich for lunch. Tomato, avocado and hommous is actually a pretty tasty sammie.
People at work are moving from curiosity to pity to laughter. I've dropped a kilo already, so who's laughing now?!  
Man, I'm hungry.
Fruit is tasty and all, but it doesn't give you that full feeling. I'm starting to wonder if that's what we're supposed to feel like, without a big ball of flesh slowly dissolving in your stomach. Deb has felt hungry for almost three days now. She seems to have plenty of energy, but is complaining constantly. I'm learning to block it out.

Chickpea curry for dinner, with flat bread wraps. The chickpeas were soaked overnight, assuming that would be enough to soften them up. We learned after we started eating, that they probably should have been soaking for a week (or should have come out of a can). I don't think they're supposed to crunch like that.
This is all a learning experience, so we know next time to start with boiling water when we soak them.

March 02, 2010

month of vegan - day 2

Bagels again for breakfast. Breakfast is easy; as long as you replace the marge with something made from vege oil, everything else can stay the same (toast with jam/peanut butter, fruit etc).

Salad again for lunch, which still isn't a big departure from the norm. Might have to buy some dressing though, as the one I threw together with mustard, balsamic and red wine vinegar was a bit weird. I think the red wine vinegar was near the end of it's useful life (it's supposed to look red right? Not the anaemic looking crap that's in the bottle).

My second soy coffee was slightly easier to drink than the first.Still not my favourite by a long shot.

For dinner, we had a big vege stir fry, and threw in some tofu instead of chicken. I might have to look into how to cook that stuff (or at least find out the right type) as it pretty much disintegrated as soon as it went in the wok. It said firm on the packet, but maybe you're supposed to shallow fry it first or something.
Live and learn.
Like every other tasty asian mean, the stir fry sauce we had in the cupboard had fish sauce in it. Ended up replacing that with some thai chilli sauce and half a cup of peanut butter. Not bad, but next time we might want to mix the two together first; I ended up with a piece of broccoli that tasted like the world's largest peanut.

Also, I'm starting to notice an internal change. One related to the ol' digestive system.
It's not worth noting yet, it's only been two days, but it's something I hadn't considered.

March 01, 2010

month of vegan - day 1

We started the day with a couple of bagels and a pot of tea (no milk though; soy milk and tea go together like ice cream and fish).
Not bad, but nothing out of the ordinary so far, except the dairy free spread we're using. It's called Nuttelex and tastes like margarine did back in the 80s before they got the recipe right. The texture is fine, but it smells a little rancid.

I had my first soy flat white for the week, which was an experience. It's like a normal coffee, except it tastes like shit.  Ok, it's not that bad, but I'm not a fan of the weird hazelnut taste or the fact that my mouth dries out when I'm half way through the thing.

Lunch was our usual tuna salad, except without the tuna. I think we replaced the tuna with more than it's weight in other ingredients (corn kernels, crunchy noodles etc), so I felt full at the end. Not a common occurrence for the humble salad!

For dinner, we thought we'd go with the stereotypical vegan staple: lentils. They're actually really easy to cook, and make a great base for anything you want to throw at them.
We did a spicy lentil soup, which I think turned out really well (note to self: fewer onions next time. Far fewer onions).

verdict: The first day was a breeze. Will try and take photos of the meals if I remember.

(this was far tastier than it looks)

February 28, 2010

month of vegan - prologue

Some time in January, I got into a discussion about veganism. I was extolling the virtues of meat, while the other party was of the opinion that we didn't need the stuff.
At some point in the (drunken) discussion, I said that I would go vegan for a month to see what the big deal was all about. Deb had her triathlon during February, and didn't want to have any drastic change to her diet before then, so we agreed on March.

Sunday the 28th of Feb was Deb's triathlon and also the last day of meat, seafood, eggs or dairy for 31 days. Shame we didn't do it in February, because March has 31 bloody days! To prepare, we loaded up on fruit and veges at the market, and spent an hour at the supermarket reading the backs of packets. I had NO idea that milk solids were in damn near everything we eat. Check out the ingredients for most chips.

Go on, I'll wait...

No doritos, marshmallows, regular coffees or anything with fish sauce in it (which rules out a fair chunk of asian dishes). No jellybeans, salami, cool mints, kebabs or chcolate milk (or any milk chocolate for that matter).
Actually, listing that stuff out makes me realise how much shit I eat.

Ok, we're off.

This is the last meat we're allowed until April:

(not the guy on the left, I meant the barbeque)

January 24, 2010

picasa and google earth are still awesome

I hate the idea that my parent's photos are trapped in a cupboard and run the risk of never being seen again. There's also the problem that those photos are unique, and have no backups. That actually bothers me more to be honest.

This is why whenever I go home for a visit, I try and scan at least one album. On my last trip, I decided to copy all of the photos from their computer (including these scans) and get them into some kind of order.

Picasa again made this really easy, because now you can edit an image's exif data direct in the application, without having to install a third party app.

Of course, now that I've got my parent's photos as part of my photo library, I've been overwhelmed with the compulsion to tag everything. I've already done all of the faces, so I'm now in the middle of geotagging. Let me tell you, trying to find out where a photo was taken in 1975 is a lot of fun.
This is my best effort I think.

Mum and Dad's photo:

I knew it was in England somewhere because of the bus, and the side of the road the traffic was on.
There is a Grovenor Hotel on the left, and Walton's Jewellers on the right.
The only place I could find that could fit the description was here:

I opened the Panoramio layer on Google Earth to check out photos that people had taken in the area.
I think this one comes pretty close, considering they were taken over 30 years apart.
edit: the original photo was deleted from Panoramio, so this is a similar one.

And just a quick comparison:

So, in summay: No. There is nothing that you can't do as long as you have the internet.