Sunday, 26 July 2009

Is it time for tea?

It's a singing dancing clock! What time is it? Super happy fun time, I imagine!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Summer Jams

Here's a couple of my favourite summer jams:

This onion confit is great for burgers, yam, beef or otherwise.

British strawberries are in season. This microwave strawberry jam includes amaretto. It's boozy and simple.

If you can get freshly grated coconut, here's a chutney for you!


Friday, 26 June 2009

Sam's Super Salad

Here's a recipe for Sam's Super Salad, as invented by Sam and Matthew out of empty-pantry necessity.

Serves 3-4


2 handfuls of assorted mushrooms, sliced
1 ball of buffalo mozzarella cheese
2 red bell peppers, halved and seeded
1 can of chickpeas, drained
1 packet of rocket/roquette/arugula/rucola
balsamic vinegar
olive oil
herbs & spices

1. Start frying the mushrooms with a bit of olive oil and whatever herbs you like. (I like thyme on my mushrooms.) Fry them until they're brown and soft and squidgy. Then leave them aside to cool.
2. Roast the red peppers. To do this, but them in an oven tray and drizzle them with oil, as well as adding some herbs, salt, and pepper. Put them in the oven at about 190C for fifteen minutes or so. When they look warmed but still quite hard, turn your oven to HOT HOT OMFG HOT (broil/grill) and put them directly under the element until their skins are burning. Be careful when you're roasting the peppers, watch them and wear over gloves, et cetera. When the peppers are done, they will be mooshy, so you can shape them into slices with a spoon. Leave them aside to cool.
3. Drain and mildly salt the chick peas.
4. Cut the mozarella into cubes.
5. When everything cool and drained and cut, you're salad-ready: combine all the ingredients, and drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve with fresh bread.

Jessi's Super Salad:

As a variation, use brie instead of mozzarella.

Oscar's Super Salad:

Oscar loves blue cheese. So, try using blue cheese instead of mozzarella, and maybe substituting chunks of toasted bread for the chickpeas.

Shiny shiny, shiny boots of leather...

Oh, hello! I'm back after a hard slog of exams, have have much to post from my recent adventures of breaktime 'twixt booktime. So, first of all, you can download free audiobooks here, on LibriVox. I've been listening to Von Masoch's Venus in Furs in the bath, lime cordial and soda in hand. It made me feel glamourous for a about a quarter of an hour, and then noodle-ish, as if I was a little udon noodle floating in miso broth, but this had more to do with my submersion in warm water than the musical and engaging voice of LibriVox's volunteer reader.

I'm a Linux user, and my open-source operating system distro of choice is Ubuntu, billed as "Linux for human beings." I use Ubuntu for two reasons: One, I used to be a Macintosh type of girl, but my love affair with Apple came to a end when my iPod and iBook collapsed within a month of each other in a veritable Liebestod of fading batteries, old-age bugs, and disk fragmentation, and I lacked the cash and brand dedication to renew them. Second, there is, of course, an ethical and political imperative I feel towards the use of open source software; see the legendary The Cathedral and the Bazaar essay and the other excellent essays and hacker reference bits on Eric Raymond's site . Basically, I really like open-source software but I'm too much of a former Apple point and click noodlehead to run something butch and heavy efficient like SuSe or Fedora. Anyhoodles, you're using Windows, and would like to try something different for your beloved compy (something speedier, more user friendly, more secure, less of those McAffee pop-up windows. Seriously, how do you guys deal with those?), take a look at this manga: Ubunchu. It's all about a group of high school kids installing Ubuntu on their new PC. As my friend Sam pointed out, manga as a genre is about as varied as "talking pictures" as a genre. So no giggles please. Okay, a few. Tee-hee.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Sorry I've been away...

I've been hunting isopods. Or, rather, running away from them as fast as I can, sometimes using roller-skates, sometimes using a home-made hot-air balloon weaved from plastic carrier bags, and sometimes simply legging it, screaming
"OMFG, kill it, kill it NOW!" Thanks for your patience. I will return to post more regularly soon.

Monday, 20 April 2009

A dream denied...

Dear Jez Catrina,

Thank you for your enquiry into vacancies at the Natural History Museum.

Unfortunately we do not keep general applications on file, however, if you would like to apply for a specific post, all of the Museum's vacancies are listed on our website at where you can also register for email alerts for all new vacancies.

Alternatively, if you are interested in voluntary work experience at the Museum, details are also available on the website or please click on the link below:

Thank you again for your interest, I wish you all the best of luck for the future.

Yours Sincerely,

"£$%^ &*$%*(
Customer Services Assistant
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road | London | SW7 5BD
Tel: 020 7942 5511
Email: "$£%££^&&%$

-----Original Message-----

Subject: Ready and willing to dust dinosaurs

The following message was submitted by email form.

Title: Ready and willing to dust dinosaurs
Submitted by: Jez Catrina
Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Jez Catrina, and I am currently a graduate student at the London School of Economics. I'm doing a MSc in Global Politics, an umbrella program where students with diverse interests converge in a core module on globalization, while specializing in fields such as economics, history, gender studies, environment, or the academic study of activism, or as I call it, "Revolution 101." It's absorbing and enjoyable, and the perfect fit for a girl like me who's spent the last decade becoming a jane of all trades, having previously been worked or studied in an arts high school, a liberal arts college in a larger university, a continental philosophy faculty, a non-profit language school, a bookstore/cafe and DIY media.

I've always loved science, ever since I was a little girl. People always seem surprised by this, considering my formal qualifications and current academic interests. The popular Zeitgeist would have it that there is some deep psychological divide between the "arts" and the "sciences," as if enthusiasm for one naturally pairs with distaste for the other. Yet I've always been interested in both, and though I've mostly pursued a career in the "arts" I've always tried to keep intellectual and temporal room in my life for science, be it taking simpler science classes in high school and university (being an absolute fumblebuns at the nitty-gritty work that professional scientists are mainly occupied with), reading science blogs, or visiting museums.

This brings me to my query. I'm a Darwin fan, and I recently went the Museum of Natural History with a fellow amateur evolutionist to see your Darwin Exhibit. Being students, we arrived in the afternoon, but we found that the tickets had sold out. So, we naturally decided to visit the dinosaurs, as well as the animals, which I discovered weren't models, but all stuffed with fluffies, much like Winnie the Pooh. The specimens were magnificent, but very, very dusty. I do not mean to deride your janitorial staff, indeed, I applaud them for undertaking nightly what must be a Sisyphean task, that is cleaning up after hoards of children, some nauseous, some rambunctious, some covered in chocolate. Similarly, I do not underestimate the duties of your curators, who likely have to stretch minimal public money to maximum effect on a daily basis.

Rather than criticize the workings of your excellent institution, I'd like to offer my services as a dinosaur duster. I would dust the blue whale as well, and anything else the needs the attention of a good feather duster. I recognize that this would not necessarily be a daily endeavor. I'm currently looking for a job in London in September, something to keep me comfortable and to repay my swelling student debts, and I know you likely cannot hire me full time. Yet I would provide my own French maid's uniform, and would be perfectly happy to hang by a harness from a winch or climb very big ladders, given the position of the dustiest dinosaurs and animals. Please let me know if you are interested in my offer, and thank-you for a wonderful afternoon out.

Yours Sincerely,

Jez Catrina

Further information


(PS: In the original, I used my real name, and the NHM's response was signed with a real name and email address as well.)

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Jams: Theme songs and Rose Preserve

I watch Heroes. For those of you who aren't in the know, Heroes is an American television show that's essentially a soap opera featuring people with superpowers, combining the cheesy dialogue and "Who's the daddy?" plot twists of afternoon stories and characters who can fly, or shoot electricity from their hands. My favourite character is the erstwhile villain of the piece, Sylar, whose story has unfolded like a first-year university textbook's briefing on Freud. I have come to the conclusion that his character is based on this Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds song, Red Right Hand. Have a listen and a think.

Since we're on the topic of theme songs, my pal Oscar has chosen this song by Stereo Total as my theme song. Do you have a theme song? I think everyone should. If you do, let me know and leave a comment!

Also in the news, (my favourite section of the BBC's news site) this doggo is a survivor. And, as if you ever needed extra motivation to move to Somerset, there is now an entire village that is twinned and shares street names with Ankh Morpork, the "Big Apple" of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

While on the Beeb I found this recipe for Rose Petal Jam. It looks easy and potentially very useful for an afternoon tea party, but I'm lost as to how I could afford a pound of rose petals. That's a lot of roses. I mean, that's a lot of roses. That's a garden's worth of roses. Such is life, I guess. Strawberry jam forever.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Penguins with backpacks and lettuce nose-stuffers...

It's officially spring soon, so I though I'd celebrate with a hearty dose of the surreal. So, first of all, check out Picture is Unrelated, billed as our source for WTF? pics and vids. It's a definite must see-- most of the stuff on it is Tate Modern worthy, yet had has the added Dali factor of being presented out of any context, and supposedly isn't posed by Damien Hirst acolytes charging mega-pounds for head-bending.

This article from the Beeb isn't exceptionally noteworthy, though I do find it reasonably disturbing that some poor bloke with a McJob and a sense of humour suffered the possibility of prison for a YouTube prank. Low-wage service jobs cause misanthropy. That's an inexorable Law of the Universe, much like La Loi de Enmerdement Maximale, or Entropy. Anyhoo, what's amusing about this piece is the title. Shout out and major praise for the cub journalist who thought of "lettuce nose-stuffer." Is there a rule in journalism about how to make appropriate nouns for people who do odd things?

If you're in the UK, maybe you'd like to visit the Natural History Museum at Tring, which is "stuffed full of surprises." Literally. It's a taxidermy museum, with all sorts of beasties (like a polar-bear grizzly hybrid) now stuffed with fluffies like Winnie the Pooh. It's on my list of things to do, for sure.

And finally, this penguin can do people things! It carries a backpack and goes shopping! I do that every Saturday! Indeed, the world is full of wonders! Many thanks to Madeline for the link.

Friday, 6 March 2009

This is a veggie-monster from outer space. Enjoy!

La vie, comme c'est belle...

I was having a discussion the other afternoon with someone (over tea, of course) about translation and the subtleties between languages. It got me thinking about my other language, that is, French. Whatever you can say about French falling short of the English language's wordcount by a couple thousand dictionary entries, and however cliché it seems, French is a gorgeous, elegant and provocative language. Here are some of my favourite, hard-to-translate French words:

actualité: not anything close to actuality, actualité is something like "current events," "news," and "the real world, out there, you know," rolled into one little word.
jouissance: I would guess this world comes from joie, or joy; it means something like "bliss" but has a temporal dimension as well, so it's kind of like "moment of uncontrollable great joy." It can be spiritual, aesthetic, psychological, or, you know...ahem...
jolie laide: literally, "pretty-ugly." This describes a woman who, while not model-beautiful, manages to be attractive and sexy and desirable, through her sense of style, personality, and her--
charme: I think we call this "je-ne-sais-quoi" in English. It's an ephemeral quality that someone has that makes them interesting and unforgettable.
la loi de enmerdement maximale : the French equivalent of Murphy's Law. "The Law of Maximum Shittiness." Touché.

And if you're not all Frenched out, here's a link to the English and French full text of Saint-Exupery's deeply philosophical, wonderfully surreal Little Prince. (With illustrations!)