Archive for the ‘Cool Stuff’ Category

This Woman Rocks!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

I’ve said a few times that I don’t have any age issues. This video is a great example of why.

This woman is 86 and can still do that. O_O I couldn’t have done that at twenty. Health and fitness often vary with age, but if you’re unhealthy or out of shape it’s not necessarily because you’re old. You might not even be old. And you can be old and still be able to do a pretty darned impressive gymnastics routine, if you work at it and have good genes. Being healthy is great and being unhealthy sucks, and you can be either one at any age.

Okay, maybe the lady wouldn’t win any Olympic medals with that routine, but damn! She still rocks! :D

Angie

Who Owns the Selfie?

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

So this monkey stole a wildlife photographer’s camera, dashed away with it and took a bunch of pictures, including this really great selfie.

The story went around about three years ago (and I missed it somehow) but more recently David Slater, the photographer whose camera was swiped, requested Wikipedia to take the photo down, that it was violating his copyright. Wikipedia said no, it doesn’t, the photo is in the public domain because a monkey took it.

According to David Post,

If the monkey took the photo — and Slater is himself the source of the story that the monkey snapped the photo using his (Slater’s) camera — nobody owns the copyright; nonhumans cannot own copyright (or, as far as I know, personal property of any kind). Slater has no copyright claim, because the photo was not his original work – it was the monkey’s. But monkeys can’t own copyright. Furnishing the monkey with a camera no more gives him a copyright claim in the work than Microsoft’s furnishing me with a word processing program gives them copyright in what I write.

It makes sense to me. If, say, a friend of mine sees something awesome happening right that minute and grabs my camera to take a picture, do I own the copyright to that picture? I wouldn’t think so. If he ends up selling the photo for $10K, I might want to have a discussion about rental of the camera [cough] but I wouldn’t expect to argue over actual ownership of the copyright.

What do you think?

Thanks to Passive Guy for the link.

Angie

Looking Forward

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Yesterday was my birthday — I turned fifty-one. Which makes today the first day of my second half-century.

It sounds pretty neat, actually. I’ve never had any age hang-ups, and thoroughly agree with this cartoon by The Oatmeal, but being fifty-one feels unusually cool. The Start Of My Second Half-Century sounds like a beginning, and it’s a beginning to something pretty darned big. There’s an excitement in that, like I’m starting a new slate and I can write whatever I want on it. The past is even more past than usual, and this is the first step into the future, like I’ve come to a whole, huge beach of fresh sand to leave footprints on.

That’s what it feels like, anyway, and I’m looking forward to the next chunk of my life.

Angie

Day of the Doctor in Lego

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Thanks to Jim Hines for linking to this — a The Day of the Doctor tribute in Lego, posted on The Mary Sue. This is completely awesome; just the music alone got my heart pumping and made me want to watch the whole episode again. :D Check it out!

Angie

HELL NO: The Sensible Horror Film

Friday, November 1st, 2013

This is awesome. Why aren’t all horror movies like this? I mean, okay, there’d have to be some more actual danger to make a good movie, but that just means the writers have to work harder to put characters with functional brains into dangerous and scary situations. Is it really that hard? I do think this is a writing issue, although I get that in Hollywood, the writer is generally the omega dog in the pack and isn’t allowed to do a good job even if he/she wants to and is capable. I wish Hollywood would let its writers create characters who don’t have great, gaping chasms between their ears. I might watch more horror movies if they did.

Until that happens, check this one out. :)

Thanks to Pam Singer for sending me the link to this!

Angie

NaNo?

Thursday, October 31st, 2013

Is anyone else around here doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’m all signed up — if you want to be NaNo buddies, I’m here on the NaNo site.

I’ve done NaNo a few times, only won once so far. The years I didn’t participate, I was already working on a novel when November rolled around, and I was pretty sure I didn’t have 50K words left. I didn’t want to stop to start a new one for fear I’d lose my momentum on the old one. If I’m basically free, though, I’ll jump into the NaNo pool, mainly because it’s fun, but also because I’ve found that even in the years I don’t win — and I’ve had some pretty spectacular crash-and-burn experiences — I learn something about myself and my writing. That’s always valuable.

Anyone else in?

Angie

Ten Things I’ve Done That You (Probably) Haven’t

Monday, October 28th, 2013

John Scalzi’s been posting these lists on his blog and suggested other people post their own with a link, so here we go. John has obviously done a lot of things most people haven’t, since this is his fourth iteration of the list, but I’ll try to come up with ten.

1. Chaired an SF convention, twice. The second time from a wheelchair after tumbling down some concrete steps at speed and mangling myself.

2. Spent fourteen years getting an AA degree. (I finished that sucker, too! Never give up, never surrender!)

3. Brought a layer cake made of two failed chocolate cakes (neither rose, for completely different reasons) frosted together into one, for an office birthday party, and BSed everyone into believing that 1) I’d meant it to be like that, and 2) that it was really good.

4. Got stitches in my head twice before starting kindergarten — once when our dog bit me for taking its bone away (I wanted to throw it so he could fetch it, hey, I was three), and another time when I was lying up on the shelf by the back window of the car when my mom had to stop suddenly, back when seatbelts were completely optional and kids routinely played all over the back seat area.

5. Spent two hours physically holding up a pair of panels forming one of the stage wings at a convention masquerade, because the tech guy had forgotten the wire needed to fasten them together. They drafted a bunch of gofers to hold them up for the whole show. I was smart enough to grab a chair. :)

6. Wrote a personal check for a whole long-weekend convention’s worth of soft drinks, because we didn’t know the guy wouldn’t leave the tanks with us unless we paid in advance. O_O Then got the con chairman to run me to the nearest branch of my bank ASAP so I could deposit the check he wrote me from the convention account so the check I gave the nice soda man wouldn’t bounce. [laugh/flail]

[Yeah, most of my weird-and-unique experiences came from working conventions, what can I say?]

7. As basically a senior gofer at a tech conference, authorized a rather large expenditure I totally didn’t have the authority to okay, because a vital piece of equipment failed during set-up of our premiere evening event, and all the Committee people were up in their rooms putting on their tuxes and evening gowns, and nobody (including the guy nominally in charge of the event) thought it was important to bring a radio up with them. The other senior gofer who was de facto in charge of the tech set-up was about to melt down right there, and wasn’t dumb enough to get the new equipment on her own authority, so I did it. And I was ready to chew a new asshole into any committee member who dared even glance at me about it, ’cause folks, this is YOUR show and it was YOUR responsibility to have someone with signing authority available at all times, and I don’t even want to hear it.

8. Went walking through the woods gathering firewood while wearing three layers of ankle-length skirts, while camping, several times. Whether anyone else has ever done this probably depends whether anyone reading this is or was a woman in the SCA at any point. :)

9. Kept a pet spider in a home-made cage (cardboard box with a piece of screening over the top, with a little hinged door cut into the screening and secured with a twist-tie) in my backyard one spring. I caught mosquito hawks in a butter tub to feed the spider. I’m actually rather arachnophobic, and I did this when I was twelve while trying to fight the phobia. It didn’t really work, but I was proud of myself for doing it anyway.

10. As part of my job from back when, got to go climbing around under a large piece of equipment of National Importance, something I could tell you about, but then I’d have to track you all down and kill you, and that’d be a lot of work, so, anyway. Funny thing — Workplace Health and Safety requirements required me to purchase a pair of steel-toed shoes for working out on the floor. I got steel-toed sneakers, which I didn’t even know existed until my boss took me to the store that sold them, just because the idea of steel-toed sneakers is kind of funny-cool. The thing is, I was on my back underneath a ridiculously heavy unit, checking off serial numbers on the underside while it dangled over my entire body on a winch. If said winch had failed, the steel-toed sneakers wouldn’t have really done much to prevent damage to my person. But by gosh, the rules said I had to wear them, so I wore them. Luckily, the winch held. :P

If anyone else wants to do this, feel free to either comment here, or post to your own blog, with a link back to Scalzi’s post. Or at least, go read his list, which is a lot more interesting than mine.

Angie

Fun Halloween Stuff

Saturday, October 26th, 2013

Half the fun of late October is buzzing around the net, checking out what people are doing for Halloween.

Josh Sundquist is a paralympic ski champ who only has one leg. He’s pretty awesome, and has done some amazing Halloween costumes — a gingerbread man with one leg bitten off, a leg lamp (remember A Christmas Story?), and this year he’s going as a flamingo. O_O Seriously, check out the flamingo. No matter how many limbs Josh has, he’s an incredible athlete.

Rob Cockerham’s done some great Halloween costumes in the past, and I think I’ve linked to them once or twice before. This year he’s going as Disneyland. This isn’t my favorite costume of his, as a costume, but watching the work that he put into it, constructing each ride and building, figuring out how to do water and jungle, how to make the roller coasters actually roller coast — that was pretty cool.

My favorites from his previous years: Dr. Octopus, holding Spiderman’s body over his head, a Fandango paper bag puppet, a vampire of course, and a crowd of paparazzi — all the cameras actually flash.

And here, Tom Mabe turned a radio controlled quad copter into a flying Grim Reaper, then flew it around a park (some parks? can’t tell) scaring people. I don’t know how many people were running from the flying, black-robed skeleton and how many were running from the huge flying thing coming at them, but either way it was pretty cool. :) Although as someone in comments said, if he’d done that at an SF con or some other geeky gathering, the thing would’ve been surrounded by folks who’d run toward it to check it out and see how it was built. [grin]

Hope you’re all gearing up for a great Halloween. Have fun!

Angie

Culinary Adventures

Monday, October 21st, 2013

So last night I made Scotch eggs. For anyone who hasn’t been lucky enough to have one, it’s a boiled egg (hard or soft yolk is debated, and up to the cook) encased in a layer of sausage, then a layer of crumb-breading, then deep fried. (There are oven variants, which are hellspawn. Okay, not really, but if you’re going to eat Scotch eggs, you might as well go for it, right?)

I had a Scotch egg on our last cruise, where one of the lounges had a British Lunch sort of thing going once a week. They were wonderous — eggy and crunchy and sausagey, like the perfect breakfast in one bite — and I’ve wanted to try making them ever since. “Ever since” finally came yesterday, but unfortunately the process wasn’t without its bumps and diversions.

I’m more of a technique cook than a recipe cook; I’d rather learn a technique, then apply it to different foods, than have to memorize a bunch of recipes. When I’m baking I’ll usually have a recipe on the counter, because baking is fussy like that, but most savory dishes are freestyle-friendly, once you’ve accumulated a certain amount of experience. So I typed “scotch egg” into Google and browsed through a few recipes to get the basic idea, then closed the browser and went off on my own.

You need a lot of oil for deep frying, which I’ve never done before. Seriously, if I got into the habit of deep frying, I’d be significantly fatter than I am now, so it’s just as well it’s a major pain. (No, we’re not buying a countertop deep-fryer gadget, no-no-no.) So the husband brought home a couple of bottles of extra oil (just basic canola), and a pound of bulk breakfast type sausage, and a carton of fresh eggs. I had AP flour and panko breadcrumbs (which I used because, crunchy), plus seasonings and such, all on hand.

First, boil the eggs. My favorite way to boil eggs is in the electric kettle. You fill it about halfway with cold water, put your eggs in carefully (up to about four, depending on the size of the kettle) then flip the switch. The kettle goes on, and when the water boils, it turns itself off. If I’m just making hardboiled eggs for egg salad or something, I leave them in until the water’s cooled enough that I can get the eggs out without scalding myself, since I like my hardboiled eggs hardboiled. For Scotch eggs, though, I was going to be cooking the eggs again, so I fished them out with a spoon about five minutes after the kettle shut off, then put them into a bowl of cold water to chill down.

When they were cool enough to handle, I filled a dutch oven (ours is enameled, but I don’t think it matters) to within about 3″ of the top with the oil, clipped a fry thermometer onto the side, and got it heating. I peeled the eggs and set them aside, got everything else out and set up, then checked the thermometer. It wasn’t even registering yet and it’d been about ten minutes, so I left everything and went back to my computer for a bit, figuring I’d check it in another twenty minutes.

Twenty minutes later, the oil was “steaming” and the thermometer still wasn’t registering anything. :/ Okay, most likely a broken thermometer. We have one of those cool, gun-shaped infrared thermometers, and it said the surface of the oil was some ridiculous temperature, like seven hundred degrees. O_O Oops. Okay, turn the heat off, and carefully shift the kettle off the hot burner.

The oil’s clearly past its smoke point, which means it’s technically ruined. In reality, I didn’t have any more oil, so I figured I’d try it anyway. First times are for experimenting, right? Mental note, buy another fry thermometer before I do this again.

While waiting for the oil to cool, I broke the sausage slab into four approximately equal chunks, for about a quarter pound of sausage per egg, and flattened each chunk out. The recipes generally say to roll the sausage out between two pieces of clingfilm (which is British for plastic wrap) but I hate that stuff, so I just put it down on a piece of parchment paper and flattened each one out with my palm. I rolled each egg in AP flour in a little bowl, shaking off excess, then wrapped it in sausage. (Flour before sausage is supposed to help the sausage cling.) Shaping the sausage around the egg, once you’ve got it basically wrapped, is a lot like making meatballs; the actual shaping motion is a lot like that, if you’ve made meatballs.

I broke two more eggs into another little bowl and beat them, then filled a third little bowl with the panko breadcrumbs. I added some salt and white pepper and garlic powder to the panko, and stirred it up. When the oil was back down around 365 (the recipes said you want it around 350 for the frying, but putting stuff into the oil lowers the temp a bit) I took the first sausaged egg, dipped it in flour, then beaten egg, then rolled it in panko, dipped it in egg again, then rolled it in panko again. The double layer of crumbs is supposed to make the coating extra crunchy. Then I slipped it into the oil with a spider, since dropping it in didn’t seem like a good idea. On to eggs two, three and four.

They fried up nicely, and I started taking them out when the panko crust hit a sort of medium-dark brown. Jim and I let them cool off, then ate them like finger food while watching TV.

I couldn’t taste the smoked oil in the fried crust, which is good. But the sausage layer was a bit underdone (we ate them anyway and they were tasty and we didn’t get sick) and I suspect that the smoked oil made the crust brown faster than it would’ve with unsmoked oil. Also, if the surface of the oil was 365 when I put the eggs in, the interior was probably a lot hotter, something I didn’t think about at the time. So I probably fried them at too high a temperature, which would also darken the outside before the inner sausage cooked all the way. I’ll do better in both areas next time.

And there’ll definitely be a next time. Despite the glitches, these things are incredibly yummy. Two was very filling, and makes a good meal, if you’re not fussy about your produce; most people would probably be good with one Scotch egg and a big salad or something. I imagine Travis would be good with just two eggs and call it a meal, which is what Jim and I did.

Good stuff, definitely worth keeping in the repertoire.

Angie

Cake Drones!

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Okay, this is awesome. :) Shanghai’s Incake bakery bought three mini-drones and was using them to deliver cakes to customers. How cool is that? Click through — there’s video. :D

The drones have cameras on them so the remote operator can identify customers. That’s good — you wouldn’t want someone stealing your cake, after all.

Unfortunately, their drones were grounded after the civil aviation authority expressed some concerns. Unmanned aircraft require approval to fly, and Incake didn’t ask anyone’s permission. They plan to jump through the bureaucratic hoops and get their awesome cake drones back in the air, though, with all the proper permits, which is great news. I’d totally pay extra to get a cake delivered by unmanned drone, but I wouldn’t bet anything on drone-delivery of baked goods ever being allowed in the US. Bummer.

Thanks to CakeWrecks for the link.

Angie