Monthly Archives: February 2008

Amaizing

You know your vision’s not that great when you look at the word “Computer” and see “Cornputer”.

That, or maybe you’re really hungry.

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Google Adsense

I’m currently playing with Google Adsense. As far as I understand, it pays based on number of impressions (times the page/ads are loaded), and the number of clicks the ads actually get. I’m not actually allowed to tell people to click the ads, though, and people reading the blog via a feed reader will probably sidestep the ads entirely. So I doubt I’ll be earning very much here.

(In fact I think my Adsense account can get banned even if one of you fanatically decides to go on a mindless clicking spree, so please don’t sabo me. Feel free to click any ad you find interesting though =P)

I don’t actually think this blog’s got enough of a readership for it to earn me anything, but I’m currently toying with the idea of working on a guide for Battle Stations! that will hopefully generate some traffic and possibly offset (or more) the cost of my hosted webspace, so I thought I’d experiment with ways to implement the ads unobtrusively yet effectively.

Plus, sometimes it’s funny to see what Google thinks are matching keywords for the blog, haha.

In other news, yes I got myself a new domain name with 200gb of webspace, on a US$90 lifetime plan by THC. It’s a pretty good deal, as long as the company doesn’t fold within the next few years… Everything’s currently under construction though, but you can still head to thecoffeespoon.net (name courtesy of Ailin) and stare at the placeholder image.

Will probably be migrating there (on WordPress) after graduation, time for a brand new start, and levelling up of geekery!

Passage of time


Outside a hotel in Perth, taken around five years apart. Both times, with a bunch of my RI friends.

Every now and then I think back on my earlier schooling days, and I often find that I miss them. The simplicity of it all, especially. The camaraderie, too. I think it’s related – it’s easier to make friends back then, when everything is simpler.

Over the years the pattern of this reminiscing has changed. There used to be times when I’d get hung up over how everyone’s drifted, or how everything’s become more complicated, and just- how everything’s changed.

But I think one of the signs that I’ve really grown is how I’ve learned to accept that the past is really, well, the past. Lots of it was good, some of it was bad, and I might still miss it all now, but do I want to go back there? The answer is an emphatic no.

Life goes on, it doesn’t wait for you, and if you just stop thinking back on how things used to be, you might see that things now aren’t quite so bad, that you (hopefully) still have a whole life ahead of you, that there is so much to look forward to, too much to be wasted on living in the past.

It’s great that I still keep in touch with quite a few of my friends from the past, albeit not that regularly, and I still hold quite a bit of goodwill for several of the ones I’ve lost contact with (and hopefully that’s mutual), and it’ll be swell if our paths ever reconnect again, but if they don’t – well, that’s life.

It’s taken awhile, but I’ve finally learnt how to walk down the passage of Time.

Youth Olympics 2010

Singapore ecstatic at winning Youth Olympics bid

My gosh, looks like my little nation is really going to be put on the map (so to speak). Maybe there’ll be less of those ‘so which part of China is Singapore in?’ questions now.

Wonder if Singapore will really turn into the bright vibrant place we’re hoping to be. With the upcoming introduction of casinos, F1 racing, and now this, it seems like we’re on track – but is this necessarily a good thing, I wonder?

Refrigerator theft

SOMEBODY STOLE MY PRAWNS.

Dammit it was a brand new unopened pack, who could have been unethical enough to just appropriate £1.74 of food like that? I mean, sure I ‘borrow’ a little milk every now and then, but that’s like a couple of pennies at a go! A totally different league altogether! <- (sense of hypocritical irony)

But seriously I think it takes a different class of daring to just take a whole packet of somebody’s food, as opposed to pinching a little milk.

In related news, my unopened (thus still sealed) pack of minced beef went bad in the fridge, two days before the printed expiry of 21 Feb. How? Why?! -Incredulous- That’s another £2 worth of food, gone.

Food in shared accommodation is unhappy business. Next time I’ll just freeze my stuff earlier. Sigh.

Google Lovin'

Google Vday
I really like Google’s logo for Valentine’s Day this year.

I’ve also been discovering some more uses for other Google services which I don’t usually utilise too often, like Google Calendar, which I usually just use to keep track of birthdays, really. But after some fiddling about, I managed to create a simple schedule page for organising my experiment slots for the next 2 weeks (I’m collecting data for my final year project). It’s probably not a use I’ll be repeating often, but it seems that it might come in handy once I start teaching.

I also thought that the Events page on the sorely-outdated York Singsoc website could have been easily kept up-to-date with Google Calendar, which is what we tried to introduce, but apparently it didn’t work so well. Maybe it’ll be picked up again by the current batch, or maybe they’ll think of something better.

Since we’re on the topic of Google products, Google Reader is a utility I highly recommend. It’s a feed aggregator, which basically means it collects all the new posts from various websites and displays them on one page, so you can rely on just one page instead of dozens. I previously used it mainly to track infrequently-updated blogs, since most of the personal blogs I read don’t update daily (or even monthly). But recently I’ve come to appreciate it as an easy way to follow new sites (such as FXcuisine, an excellent food site I’ve just discovered) as well, I can happily add as many as I want, and remove them later if they turn out to be less interesting than expected.

Think of it as a replacement for the bookmarks system, for the sites that support feeds anyway (usually indicated with an orange web feed icon somewhere).

I’ve also more recently started playing with the social aspect of Google Reader – sharing interesting articles. I’ve not used it too much, but it seems a pretty simple way to share stuff you’ve read, and if reciprocated it helps me to discover new sites. In fact I’ve just embedded my shared reads in the sidebar of this blog.

Sometimes I suspect I might need a new pre-lunch hobby, other than surfing the web.

Wantan 102

So with some leftover wantan skins and filling from the previous batch of fried wantans, I was going to just fry the rest for a meal (or two) someday. Shan suggested that I try making soup wantan with them though, and I figured, why not?

So today the two of us embarked on a pilot study to examine the effectiveness of using the Wantan 101 recipe to make soup wantans.

cracked skins

Lesson of the day – do not (re)freeze wantan skins. I’d bought them frozen, and there were leftovers after thawing and using some of them, so I put them back into the freezer thinking there wouldn’t be a difference. There was. The skins had become hard and cracked, I’m guessing what little moisture they have was somehow lost in the refreezing process.

So we were really worried that it was a lost cause, but decided to go ahead anyway, in the hope that the boiling process will eliminate all the problems. Basically the same steps were involved as in Wantan 101, except that instead of frying, the wantans were boiled in soup (made from water and chicken stock).

photographer
Photo of Shan taking a photo of the finished soup wantans

success!
Photo of the finished soup wantans

They actually turned out pretty good! The skin was a bit on the thick side (probably because they’re designed for frying, that’s how they’re labelled anyway, or possibly because of the refreezing problem), but still pretty tasty! Expect more wantans in various guises, coming soon to a meal near you!

dinner

I actually had leftover filling (I only had enough skins for about 8 wantans in the end), so I rolled the leftovers up and had meatballs (with the remaining soup) for dinner. Just add some seaweed and boil. It was very good, too! I’m pretty impressed that this recipe can generate so many different simple yet tasty foods – the meatballs could have been fried instead of boiled, for example.

This is one versatile recipe!

Suspended disbelief

I believe that occasionally, even the most hardcore atheist will look upon the world and think, “hot dang, maybe there is a design to this after all!”

AH GOOD THE SEA

This bit of chalk graffiti, found along Retreat Lane (a little alley somewhere between the university and the city centre), has long fascinated me. It is totally ungrammatical, but boldly asserts that – well, AH GOOD THE SEA.

I’ve often wondered what it meant. Adding to the curiosity was the fact that it’s been there all three years of my university life – and even before, according to the seniors! Surely there must be some deep meaningful story behind this mysterious phrase that causes people (students?) to restore it, year after year?

A Google search turned out a couple of sites, but all of them were specifically talking about the very same graffiti. ah-good-the-sea.com seemed to offer some hope at explaining this with the claim that it ‘was the working title for the Sponge Bob Square Pants movie’, but that turned out to be false. Apparently it used to (obviously, deliberately and hilariously erroneously) claim that it was ‘the first line of Moby Dick’.

So apparently nobody really knows the origin and meaning of the phrase.

Perhaps it’ll be interesting to add to the scrawl, maybe add to in using other languages. Some suggestions generated by Google Translate include…

啊深大海
あぁ、海の深い
Ah profundo del mar

But somehow, they all seem to lack the hypnotic catchiness of the original English form.

Wantan 101

The fried wantans I make have turned out to be rather popular among the Yorkies, and since I don’t participate in pot lucks all that often, it’s usually the dish I churn out when I do. So much so that people probably think it’s all I know how to do.

Though I suppose in terms of food I dare to serve to others, it’s not too far off from the truth. Definitely the best item in my repertoire, anyway.

What most people don’t seem to realise is how easy it is to make. I picked it up from my mum and brother, so you can say it’s a family recipe, but it’s not really much of one. It does take some time, mainly in folding the wrappers, but the ingredients and steps are actually easy enough.

Filling
1) Filling. I don’t actually have a recipe for this, I just mix stuff up in estimated proportions until I get what I want. The main ingredients are minced pork and diced garlic, mixed in with sesame oil, light soya sauce, and pepper. I usually throw in other stuff to excite it up, like prawns, shitake mushrooms and (spring) onion. There’re probably many other possibilities, actually, just choose whatever makes you happy.

Wrapping
2) Wrapping. I don’t actually know how to make the wantan skins from scratch, and if I included the steps this wouldn’t be a 101 topic. But anyway, just use some pre-bought ones, put the filling in and fold them into halves. Some people pre-cook the filling before wrapping it up, but I find that since it’s all minced/diced, it cooks pretty quickly anyway so there’s no real need to do so.

Before frying
Again there are many variations, some people like minimal filling for the excessive crispy goodness, I personally like a bit of substance in my wantans. I usually fold it into rectangular halves, but some people swear by the triangular form. No they don’t taste different, though it’s a handy way of differentiating them if you’re using different ingredients (like some with prawn and others without).

Frying
3) Frying. You can just deep-fry them, it’s pretty easy. For the health-conscious, you can use less oil and shallow fry (though I doubt that actually makes any difference), or boil them in soup. I’ve not actually tried that, though – probably will soon!

Final product
And then you’re done. Pretty easy, huh? Really good, too. Mmm.