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November 28th, 2015

11:17 am: Cooking diary
Monday: Vegetable laksa

Tuesday: Teriyaki beef salad

Wednesday: Spaghetti aglio e olio with prawns

Thursday: Vegetable frittata.
This started life as a vegetable thing but it didn't work out, so I added egg & cheese to rescue it & turned it into a frittata.

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November 24th, 2015

06:33 pm: Click here to save the world
Very clever.
If I said more it would be #spoilers

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November 21st, 2015

02:07 pm: Signs & Portents
Queen Street Santa is back.
A.K.A Creepy Santa but no longer as creepy since his surgery to fix his lazy eye and immobilise his right forefinger. It used to curl back & forth in a beckoning motion. No, not creepy at all.

Pohutukawa begin to bloom.
A.K.A. The New Zealand Christmas tree.

Christmas is coming...

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01:35 pm: Cooking diary
Saturday: Assam laksa (spicy fishy noodle soup)
It's a dish that takes time so it worked well as a distraction as coverage of the Paris attacks came in.

Monday: Kidney bean & vegetable soup.
I planned to use cannellini beans but when I went to get a can, there weren't any in the pantry so substituted a can of red kidney beans. The downside: it turned the soup muddy-looking.

Tuesday: Soy pork hock, garlic broccoli, rice.

Wednesday: Beef stew, salsa verde, cauliflower cheese

Thursday: Fennel sausage, roasted vegetables, balsamic dressing.

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November 20th, 2015

11:32 am: Palindroma: New genus of spider.
The new spider genus Palindroma, featuring a novel synapomorphy for the Zodariidae (Araneae)
Rudy Jocqué, Arnaud Henrard


The new genus Palindroma gen. nov. is described in the Cryptothelinae, Zodariidae. Apart from the type species, P. morogorom gen. et sp. nov. (♂♀), the genus contains P. aleykyela gen. et sp. nov. (♂), P. avonova gen. et sp. nov. (♂♀), P. sinis gen. et sp. nov. (♂) and the somewhat aberrant species P. obmoimiombo gen. et sp. nov. (♂). The four typical representatives of the genus are characterized by the profile of the carapace with a slight dip, the absence of precoxal sclerites and the characters of the male palp with enlarged tibia, large subtegulum and tegular retrolateral knob. The genus occurs in miombo-woodland and coastal forest in East and Central Africa and this peculiar distribution is discussed. A key to the males of the Palindroma species is provided. Specimens of Palindroma have a particularly well-developed tibial process fitting in a shallow metatarsal pouch on all legs in both sexes. Although less conspicuous in some derived taxa, the feature appears to be present in all representatives of the Zodariidae, but not in possible sister-group taxa and is thus an autapomorphy of the family.

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November 17th, 2015

07:32 pm: Rarotonga: Flowers
The flowers

Yellow hibiscus in the rain (we experienced plentiful rain during our stay on the island)
More flowers...Collapse )

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November 15th, 2015

05:31 pm: More than changing your profile picture.
It's all well & good changing your profile pic to show support, but consider doing something a bit more concrete, like making a donation to the Red Cross or Red Crescent, or some of the other aid organisations listed in the linked article.

How you can help.

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

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09:46 am: Rarotonga: Snorkelling (Part 2)
I took this photo off Oneroa island, I had no idea what this was until we got home. Those are the lips of a juvenile giant clam.

Our second snorkelling expedition was on an overcast day and the wind was up and the sea was more choppy. But we were feeling adventurous and the Fruits of Rarotonga which is one of the recommended snorkelling spots is only about a 20-30 minute walk away. We decided to paddle there by kayak. It took a bit longer on account of the wind & waves but once we got there we put on our snorkelling gear & fins. We had noticed that the local lagoon cruise boats target an area of deeper water off Fruits of Rarotonga so we expected that it would be a good spot to aim for.

Things were going quite well until we got closer to open water when I started to get more water in the snorkel. And then I realised that I was in water deeper than I was tall & panicked a little. [I didn't learn to swim until a few years ago and while I'm ok with being in water above my height, it's very different experience when it's not a pool. In a pool, the (relative) safety of the edge is only a few strokes away. It emphatically does not feel the same in the sea.]

So anyway, I decided to head back to shallower water, and that's where the snorkelling for the day happened. The other thing I did not expect in Rarotonga was to get cold especially given the amount of blubber I have for insulation. But after a while, I was feeling cold so we hopped out of the water & had a nice hot tea at the Fruit of Rarotonga cafe.

The next day, after a few overcast & rainy days, the sun came out. We decided to explore the islands off Muri Beach in the kayak. This was the only sunny day's snorkelling we managed. It was also the day my back got sunburnt. I had put on sunscreen before leaving but not on my back as I had my shirt on. But when I took it off to go snorkelling, I forgot to sunscreen my back (which as you'd expect would be the part of the body most exposed while snorkelling). We found some good spots on the ocean side of the middle island, Oneroa.

More underwater photosCollapse )

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November 14th, 2015

07:33 pm: Video games summarised in 140 characters or fewer.

I especially liked the one for Gauntlet.

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04:03 pm: Iain Banks said it
"Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying"

03:58 pm: Cooking diary
Monday: Nasi Lemak & chicken curry.
Went to a new(ish) Malaysian place for lunch at the weekend. It didn't fully satisfy my cravings, so I made more at home.

Tuesday: Cheesy grillers, cheesy mash, cheesy asparagus.
Mmmm... cheese.

Wednesday: Curry chicken with asparagus garlic stirfry.
There was plenty of chicken curry leftover from Monday which we had with some asparagus. (Why yes, it's asparagus season at the moment.

Thursday: Grilled vegetables with balsamic dressing & (attempted) potato croquettes made with leftover mash.
I thought I had a cunning plan to use up the leftover mash from Tuesday. Forming the croquettes was straightforward but as they warmed up, they collapsed. Still tasted good though.

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02:56 pm: "We" is a big and powerful word.
"We" is a big and powerful word.

We is a big and powerful word.

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November 10th, 2015

06:01 pm: Rarotonga: Walking around the island
We didn't bother with renting a scooter or a car but relied on the bus & walking. It took longer to get from place to place but fitted the chilled-out, slower island life experience.

Here are some of the sights we saw (in a vaguely chronological order).

Looking inland. It was a cloudy afternoon that greeted us. After getting settled in, we went for a walk to stretch our legs.

Rukau (taro) a.k.a. Rarotongan spinach.

Scenes from Rarotonga...Collapse )

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November 8th, 2015

06:40 pm: Achievements
Three loads of laundry and mowed the lawn. It's such a glamorous life...

05:46 pm: Baduzzi: dinner
It's an occasional thing that we go out for a group dinner with work friends. It's occasional partly due to having to synchronise schedules and partly due to differing dietary requirements. Me, I'll eat most anything. Our latest dinner was at Baduzzi an Italian place in Wynyard Quarter. Because we were a biggish group (nine) we were able to reserve a table (they don't normally take reservations), but because we were a biggish group, we had to go with the set menu option. Given there were a few vegetarians in our group, the set menu we were offered was more vegetarian friendly.

Baduzzi approaches meals as a communal affair, and for the set menu, everything was "for the table" to share, so as long as we were careful to make sure the vegetarians got enough of the vegetarian dishes, it was all good. They broke it down into three courses (Piccolo, Pasta & Desserts) but it was really like a mostly continuous delivery of food in sufficient quantities that we were all very full by the end.

Hand crafted stracciatella w lentil bolognaise, grilled piadina

More about the food...Collapse )

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04:41 pm: Cooking diary
Roast pork salad (asparagus, carrot, potato)


Asparagus chilli stirfry, pork sauteed with salted soybeans capsicum & onion, rice.


Harissa chicken wings, hummus, tabouleh


Pork, carrot, garlic sprouts, lettuce, apple salad with fish-sauce dressing.


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04:23 pm: Conservation of Ninjutsu.
"In any martial arts fight, there is only a finite amount of ninjutsu available to each side in a given encounter. As a result, one Ninja is a deadly threat, but an army of them are cannon fodder."

Warning: TVTropes link.

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November 7th, 2015

10:37 am: Cooking diary
What's been cooking recently?

Roast chicken & salad (mung bean sprouts, carrot, capsicum)

Cassoulet & sauteed cabbage

Harissa lamb chop, grilled broccoli (harissa goes with everything)

Beef nachos (old-school flatting meal I haven't made in years)

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November 3rd, 2015

06:56 pm: The "yoof" of today
A conversation elsewhere reminded me of the Beloit College Mindset List which is a fun & informative take on how the "yoof" of today might see see the world.

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October 30th, 2015

07:16 pm: Rarotonga: First time snorkelling
Our first go at snorkelling was around Koromiri island which is one of the three small islands off Muri Beach. Koromiri is southernmost; if you head north it's Oneroa next with Motutapu the northernmost.

It was an overcast afternoon when we paddled out to Koromiri island.

We grabbed a two-person canoe and paddled across the shallow water, beached the canoe and explored a bit. Then we came across a family who were a bit caught out by the rising tide, so we put the youngest Devin between us on the canoe & paddled her back while the rest of the family (Nick, Kimberley, and Riley) waded. Really, they would have been just fine if they took a different route back (their original route to Koromiri was across a deeper part of the channel so when the tide came in...). It only took a few minutes and we were were glad to help. Once back on the main island, we got a few tips from Nick for good snorkelling spots around Koromiri, so our good deed for the day paid dividends.

We paddled back to Koromiri to the ocean-facing side, beached our canoe and went snorkelling. Fern got me an underwater camera for my birthday, so I got to play with it. I found that a big component of taking underwater photos was clicking & hoping. I took lots of blurry photos but some of them turned out well. Here are a few.

Some sort of brain coral.

Photobombed by fish (Scissortail Sergeant).
Show me more...Collapse )

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October 29th, 2015

08:24 pm: The Birds of Rarotonga
Our resident rooster.

White Tern (found on a number of islands in the Pacific) which I initially thought were white swallows. These were spotted on our walk to Wigmore Falls.

Cook Islands Fruit-Dove (Kukupa) also seen on the track to Wigmore Falls.

The resident hen walked in front of our deck for a few minutes before realising we were there, panicked, and called her brood in. More than once.

Here she is before she noticed us sitting nearby, like about a metre away.

Our other resident rooster.

Hen up a tree. Apparently chickens can fly if they are being chased by a dog.

Another picture of the resident rooster.

We also saw seabirds, but I didn't take any photos of them.

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08:15 pm: What is this I don't even...
Apparently paternosters used to be common.

I guess if you're the sort of person who gets impatient waiting for the next lift, you might prefer this mode of transport. Me, I'd rather wait for a lift.

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October 28th, 2015

06:57 am: Rarotonga: check out where we stayed
Earlier this month we holidayed in Rarotonga which was my first Pacific island that's not New Zealand. It was a lovely break in warmer climes (though not that much warmer). It's not really a foodie destination, but a place to go if you're looking for a taste of island life. Rarotonga is small, the coastal road around the island is 32 km long, and most activities involve the beach and the sea (went snorkelling for the first time; didn't drown). There are dogs and chickens aplenty; you know the thing about roosters crowing at dawn? Not so the roosters of Rarotonga, who crow any time of day & most of the night. And the dogs bark in return.

We had mixed weather the week we were there, with two sunny days and the rest of the time it was either overcast or raining. Still, we managed to see & do and eat & drink a lot. We also spent time chilling out on the beach or at our unit reading. I'm slowly sorting out the photos & will be posting more (with descriptions) in due course.

The beach end of Muri Beach Hideaway (where we stayed).
Lots of picturesCollapse )

Current Music: "French Letter" Herbs
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October 27th, 2015

12:09 pm: Wisdom
Today is the day other people are learning from my past mistakes: "If you are going to do that experiment, don't make these mistakes I made." [Followed by a list]


October 25th, 2015

06:57 pm: Cooking diary
Haven't cooked for a week while on holiday and found that I missed it.

Hae Mee (Prawn noodle soup)

Pork dumplings on spinach with Sichuan pepper chilli sauce

Hokkien Mee

Taro rice (rice, taro, shiitake, Chinese sausage, spring onions)

Stir fried veges with leftover taro rice

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06:39 pm: Worst case scenario?
Worst case scenario?

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October 14th, 2015

09:59 pm: Allechante: 'Travailing the Loire'
The first day back at work after a holiday was always going to be hard, but I thought we timed it well because it was also the day of the most recent Allechante pop-up dinner, so we had something nice to look forward to. Unfortunately the bug I caught (I think it was on the flight over) that started as a tightness in the throat got progressively worse during the day, so even thought dinner was lovely as was the company (we were a table of five), I didn't enjoy it quite as much as I could have.

This time the food was to complement the wines, which were all from the Loire in France. Once again, it was a delightful experience. I'll let the pictures do the talking.

- To Begin, To Imbibe, To Start
Oysters with Muscadet vinaigrette & shallots
Pastry parcel foie gras
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"
"Scotch egg" made with quail egg & boudin noir chicken mousse
(Boudin noir is the French blood sausage. This was delicious though didn't go as well with the wine as the oysters did.)
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"
2014 Chateau de la Ragotiere 'Selection Vieilles Vignes' Muscadet Sevre et Maine
Muscadet Sur Lie
Nantais Region

Sourdough seedbread
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

- Salad of Whipped Goats Cheese, Lightly Pickled Vegetables, Shaved Macadamia
(A vegetarian course which I loved; the lightly pickled vegetables worked really well)
2014 Henri Bourgeois 'Les Baronnes' Sancerre
Sauvignon Blanc
Central Region
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

- Terrine of Chicken, Leek and Lobster, Truffled Green Beans, Prune, Grilled Sourdough
(My favourite wine of the night)
2014 Chateau de Fesles Rose d'Anjou
70% Grolleau, 30% Gamay
Anjou-Saumur Region
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

- Fillet of Salmon, White Asparagus, Sauce Beurre Blanc, Basil
(Salmon cooked to perfection, while there was a bit of green basil, most of it was black & crispy probably deepfried)
2011 Domaine Baumard 'St Yves' Savennieres
Chenin Blanc
Anjou-Saumur Region
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

- Roasted Quail Breast Ballotine, Quail leg, Morels and Broad Beans
2012 Domaine Angelique Leon Chinon
Cabernet Franc
Touraine Region
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

- Caramelised Apple, Pate Feuillete, Cultured Cream
(There was also a kale sorbet which was refreshing but tasted mostly green, and the cultured icecream was also lightly smoked)
2010 Pithon-Paille '4 Vente' Coteaux du Layon
Chenin de Botrytis
Anjou-Saumur Region
Allechante: "Travailing the Loire"

We couldn't agree on the best course or the best food & wine match. It was all good.

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06:01 pm: Mango Wine from Golden Drop (Australia) was surprisingly drinkable.

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October 12th, 2015

03:49 pm: Answer: Probably not
I've been offline for just over a week. Did I miss anything important?

(It was my first time in a Pacific island that's not New Zealand. I'll be putting up posts about our time in Rarotonga in due course, once I get over this cold virus thingy I brought back with me.)


October 3rd, 2015

10:45 am: Cooking diary
Monday: Chicken stew (the family recipe)

Tuesday: Shakshuka. Not as good as Ima's but still hits the spot.

Wednesday: Spaghetti aglio e olio. This version with prawns & rocket.

Thursday: Combination fried rice. With chicken, prawns, fishballs, fried egg, a little chilli & frozen vegetables.

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09:37 am: Peach Parade
Classic Auckland Spring: it was raining when I took these on Peach Parade.




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October 2nd, 2015

04:12 pm: What's on my mind?
The eternal tension between "Someone is wrong on the internet" and "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

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September 30th, 2015

08:37 pm: Sunset (another attempt)
This by uploading to LJ scrapbook. If I have to upload photos multiple times to post in different places instead of uploading to one location and hotlinking from there I will not be happy.

Looking through the neighbour"s birch tree branches (again) to see the sunset.

07:58 pm: Sunset
Looking through the neighbour's birch tree branches (again) to see the sunset.
Looking through the neighbour"s birch tree branches (again) to see the sunset.

And if it doesn't load*, Google photo link.

*So the preview doesn't load the image, even though I can post it to Facebook with the same line just fine. I guess I can no longer hotlink Google+ photos (which I've been able to until recently). *sad emoji*

ETA: Trying from Flickr

OK, so I might be uploading my photos to Flickr from now on.


September 27th, 2015

10:08 am: Cooking diary
Monday: Soy chicken, chilli grilled eggplant, sauteed cabbage, steamed rice.
Monday: Soy chicken, chilli eggplant, sauteed cabbage, rice

Tuesday: Okonomiyaki
It's a Japanese pancake/omelette. Instead of using grated nagaimo, I added tapioca flour to the batter mix. The other ingredients are fairly standard: flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and okonomiyaki sauce, katsuobushi (bonito flakes), Japanese mayonnaise.
Tuesday: Okonomiyaki

Wednesday: Morrocan chicken, hummus, tabouleh
Wednesday: Morrocan chicken, hummus, tabouleh

Link to G+ entry if photos aren't loading.

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September 23rd, 2015

06:51 am: Neil Gaiman rarities...
…including the Duran Duran biography he wrote.

It’s pay what you want, but a threshold needed to unlock some items (like the Duran Duran bio).

Gaiman’s part of proceeds goes to CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund).

There is less than a day left before it runs out.


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September 21st, 2015

06:05 pm: Now that Second Winter has started...
...remember the days of First Spring? Just last week?

Sunset & antenna

There's also this, which can easily also apply to Auckland.
Wellington Seasons

(Why yes, it's been rather cold the last few days.)

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September 20th, 2015

03:23 pm: Cooking diary
There is a lot of chicken in the freezer at the moment.

Monday: Chicken cabbage apple rocket salad
Monday: Chicken cabbage apple rocket salad
Tuesday: Chicken macaroni mushroom salad
Tuesday: Chicken macaroni mushroom salad
Wednesday: Chicken curry, stirfried veges, rice
Wednesday: Chicken curry, stirfried veges, rice
Thursday: Mushroom & leek frittata
Thursday: Mushroom & leek frittata

Link to G+ photos.

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September 19th, 2015

10:50 am: Stevie Wonder Carpool Karaoke
The Late Late Show with James Corden

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September 16th, 2015

07:06 pm: Spring in the garden
Was noodling around in the jungle, er, garden at the weekend & took a few photos.

Rocket (Arugula) flowers
Rocket (Arugula) flowers
Bokchoy flowers
Bokchoy flowers

Link to photos on G+

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07:34 am: So bread is now allowed on a paleo diet?
Because: Paleo People Were Making Flour 32,000 Years Ago.

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September 14th, 2015

08:45 pm: Sci-Fi Airshow
Imagine you could go to an airshow and see the Eagle from Space:1999 up close, and even take a tour in it.

(Incidentally, 13 September was the date the moon blew away)

Well, now you can at the http://www.scifiairshow.com/.

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