Corn Fritters

Why is it that cafes can never get corn fritters right? They always try and add all these other things, make them far too thick, fail to cook them for long enough, burn them, and so on. Corn fritters are a basic foodstuff, a simple yet noble testament to the pleasurable but delicate flavour of corn. They should not be sullied with bacon or diced capsicum, overpowered with twelve herbs and spices, or made out to be more than what they are and what they do best. To that end, I propose that the simplest possible recipe is still the best:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 ½ cups flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • one 400 g tin whole kernel corn
  • salt and pepper

Beat eggs and milk until frothy. Stir in dry ingredients until a thick pourable batter is formed, then stir in the drained corn kernels. Fry spoonfuls in butter over a medium heat. Serve immediately.

Clicker Training

After a a few weeks of settling in, I thought I’d give some clicker training a go with Lucy, Destroyer of (Laptop) Mice.

In a word, astounding.

I’m only peripherally familiar with operand conditioning, but I bought and am following Karen Pryor‘s Clicker Training for Cats book. I started on Sunday with loading the click with chicken liver treats. After 5 clicks she had cottoned on and 10 clicks later she was targetting a biro with her nose and I could lead her around the room with it. 5 more clicks and she was giving me high fives in the air with her paws. This all took less than five minutes!

Now it’s Wednesday and she’s quite reliably giving high fives, coming when called, sitting and staying on her spot and getting down from the table on command.

For some obscure reason teaching her to switch the light off on command and to play the piano are high on the list…

Kitten has finally arrived

She was a perfect little sweetie in the car from Wanganui to Wellington. After the initial shock, she entertained herself with a scrap of sheepskin for a bit before curling up to sleep the rest of the way.

Easy traveller.

When she got home she found the spare room with the boxes in it.

Death to the laser pointer!


Salmon Vegetable Ensemble

  • Two 150g salmon fillets
  • Two large field mushrooms (at least 10cm across)
  • 1 large head of broccoli
  • 150g spinach
  • 1 spring onion
  • 1 glass of white wine

Sauce:

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • A few capers
  • 2 anchovy fillets
  • 1/2 cup of sour cream
  • dash of milk

Mash anchovies, garlic, rosemary and capers in a mortar and pestle to a paste. Stir in sour cream and enough milk to make a good sauce consistency. Set aside to allow flavour to infuse.

Steam the broccoli for 5-6 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the spring onion and saute in a pan with a little oil, salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms to the pan, stalk-side-up, add the wine and cook covered for 2-3 minutes until just tender.

Place the mushrooms on heated plates stalks-up, and assemble the spring onions and broccoli on top of each mushroom. Keep plates warm.

Meanwhile, steam the spinach, and add the salmon fillets to the pan skin-side down to cook for 2-3 minutes, and 1 minute on the other side.

Pile the spinach on the vegetable ensemble, and place the fillet on top of that. Drizzle any liquid from the pan over the food if desired.

Garnish with the sauce prepared earlier and serve.

Games at Heather’s

It’s Queen’s Birthday weekend, and there’s nothing like a nice Sauvignon Blanc and a spot of boardgames on a rainy Sunday afternoon. Some Settlers of Catan, some Hacienda and good company.

LAN Photos

Here are some photos from a LAN a couple of weeks ago. Civilisation, Joint Operations, Halflife 2 Deathmatch, far too much bacon corn fritters and Rocket Fuel sauce, and of course Mystery Science Theater 3000 “This Island Earth”.

General Relativity

Why is General Relativity so damned difficult and inaccessible? Because of tensor fields.

So what’s this about tensors? Well, caclulus might be abstruse enough already, but tensor calculus takes abstrusity (?) to a whole new level. A tensor is a multidimensional generalisation of scalars and vectors, to n-dimensions. So, a scalar quantity such as mass, having one dimension, can also be thought of as a tensor of rank zero. A vector quantity such as velocity can be thought of as a rank one tensor. Things become complicated when dealing with more complex quantities, such as elasticity, a rank four tensor in materials science.

Performing calculus with tensors becomes useful when considering quantities with two or more dimensions. The great benefit is that it allows you to treat quantities with as many dimensions as you need with the same notational convenience.

A tensor field is a tensor quantity that varies across all points in space. A magnetic field, denoted B, is a vector field, and so can be treated as a tensor field of rank one. The space in which the field is mapped may be the standard Euclidiean 3-space, but might well be some other space, like gee, how about a 4-dimensional spacetime? And I haven’t even mentioned Riemannian manifolds yet.

Advice to Vodafone NZ

This is a letter I wrote to Vodafone. I am SO incredibly fed-up with their BOLLOCKS voice menus, so I thought I’d be pro-active about it…


I want to talk to whomever developed the voice menus for 777, because I want to offer some free constructive criticism. I guess it is because I develop software for a living and dislike using poorly thought-out solutions.

The only time I (and probably loads of other people) ring 777 is when I (we) want to top up, probably at least half the time by credit card. If you check your logs, I’ll bet topping up is what people are doing at least 75% of the time.

Let us say that I want to top up my mobile using my credit card. Please refer to attached diagram. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Blah Blah Blah random announcement that I can’t skip by pressing a button. Too bad if I’m low on battery life.
  2. “…to top up your mobile, press 2” I press 2.
  3. “…to top up using a credit card, press 2” I press 2 again. So far so good.
  4. “To top up, press 1. For customer services, press 2.”This menu is completely redundant and should be removed. At this point, I am about to indicate (for the second time), that I want to top up my mobile with a credit card. Why would anyone with an IQ greater than a cabbage want customer services at this point? Customer Services is available by pressing 9 at the first menu.

    Customer Services should be globally available from any menu by pressing the same key, (for example 0), and help should similarly be available (for example the * key)

  5. By pressing 1, I finally get put through to something useful, where it asks me to enter my mobile and PIN. Fair enough, but wait! What’s this:
  6. “To register a credit card, press 1, to top up, press 2.” Fair enough I suppose, but I have already indicated (twice) that I want to top up my mobile using a credit card. Pressing 2 gives me yet another menu:
  7. “To top up your mobile, press 1. To top up another mobile, press 2.” This is now the fourth time I have had to tell the system that I want to top up my mobile with my credit card. For a use case that probably occurs more often than most of your other use cases (check your logs), That is three times too many. These last two menus should be merged:
  8. 1. Register a credit card
    2. Top up your mobile
    3. Top up another mobile

Cheers