Saturday, 29 January 2011

Om nom nom LEMON CURD!

I was having a shit day today. Project not playing ball. Standard.
But I had an idea. And it was a good idea.
What do you need for lemon curd? LEMONS!!! So off I skipped to Sainsbury's.
Ingredients: bought!
Recipe: printed out!
Kitchen equipment: ASSEMBLED.
Top tip for happy cooking: get a really good knife. And a knife sharpner. Then you'll have a really good, fucking sharp knife for attacking citrus fruits with :-) 
(I decided on the more exotic lemon and lime curd. For the lulz.)

Ta da! This took FUCKING AGES. (Also, if you do this, don't be a twat like I was and cut the fruit in half before you do it - it makes life much harder).
Next stop: juicing. Or, as it came to be, EXCRUCIATING, NEVER-ENDING PAIN!
How'd you like that you acidic BASTARD???!?!?!?
(N.B. The lime responded by squirting juice in my eye - that hurt quite a lot too.)
 You see, I am very bad at looking after my hands, so they are always pretty dried out. Turns out that effectively pouring acid all over really dry, cracked hands really really fucking hurts.

Like really.

Really really.

So with about 40mins of effort, my net achievement was so far a small bowl of citrus zest, this much juice and a fuck-load of swearing at my hands. Pleasing.

 It's only when you put all the ingredients together into a bowl that you realise this is not a very healthy thing you're making:
Butter and sugar. Sugar and fat and sugar and fat and CALORIES and mmmmmmmmm tasty.
Mmmmm melty sugary butter mmmmmmm.
 Annnnnd add the "lightly beaten" eggs. Look how they fell into the bowl! (I didn't set this up at all!)
Smily eggs!
Then stir.
And stir.

And stir.

And stir.

Eventually (very eventually - you have to do it on a really low heat otherwise the eggs scramble. I may have done this before :-/) it turns into awesome right before your very eyes.

And my god, was it awesome.

Here's a little montage one of my housemates took of me licking the saucepan:



The onion growing in the background, surprisingly, doesnt belong to me. I am apparently cooking in lycra because that is what I do (don't worry, it was un-rowingifed - it was just really cold today).

Result: a pot of awesome. (Which annoyingly doesn't fill the whole pot. Does anyone else find it intensely pleasing when something you make fills a jar/whatever *exactly*? It might just be a slightly OCD mathmo thing...)
I do highly recommend the glass clippy jar things btw.
You should then give the lemon curd to someone that you like. And then they'll worship you as a domestic goddess forever!

In light of the fact it's Valentine's Day soon, which is a day that I save a really special loathing for (mainly because I'm a miserable bastard and I'm a bit like "Stop trying to sell me heart-shaped shit!"), I wonder who would rather receive this very clearly homemade thing:
Would be so much better if it FILLED THE WHOLE JAR.
over this overpriced heart-shaped chocolate monstrosity:
Therefore, readers of "Something about rowing" (which should *really* be renamed "Very little about rowing"), I challenge you to not buy heart-shaped, fluffy crap for 14th Feb - make someone some jam or something instead. You can then impress them with all your scars from the boiling hot sugar you spill on yourself too! Bonus! (Singletons - make some for a friend instead. Or or or ask someone out you like with the line "Oh hai *insert name here*. I made you some raspberry jam! Fancy a drink and a scone sometime?" :-D). Even better is the fact it's Seville orange season soon, which means only one thing - marmalade. And what does marmalade mean? EPIC TOAST.

I'm probably just being an over-opinionated bastard with my jam propaganda, but to be honest that's what the internet is about. And it's my goddam blog, so there. Boo sucks to you, jam haters.

Therefore, in what is probably the weirdest closing statement I shall ever make,

"Go forth and make jam! It'll be awesome!"

Sunday, 23 January 2011


 My life for the past week or so has, to be honest, been really fucking weird. I've spent quite a lot of time
  • Delivering mugs to different colleges.
  • Asking porters very nicely to look after mugs as they never fit in pigeon holes.
  • Designing mugs for people.
  • Scanning said drawings of mugs.
  • Swearing at my scanner for being fucking stupid and not giving me exactly what I wanted straight away (the fucker - you want me to EDIT stuff?!?!?).
  • Building boxes to post mugs to people (actually quite fun - I've been sawing bits of corrogated cardboard with a bread knife then applying the "lots of packing tape wooooo!!!!" principle.)
  • Going to the Post Office with barbarically packed parcels (amazingly it only costs about £2.20 to post a mug + cardboard + epic parcel tape parcel, which is pretty pleasing). 
 It's alright though. I do genuinely like your emails and spreading the tea love :-) There's another lot on the way, including a few extras of these two if anyone wants them (drop me an email if keen):
 I'm also going to relegate future mug activity to the page at the top to avoid pissing people off with continual mug chat. It's going to have epic flowcharts in. Probably.

But yes. Anyway. Fairbairns.

For those non-boatie/non-Cambridge, Fairbairns is the big college race on the Cam last term (but was postponed due to ice to January). Me and 3 ex-CUWers decided it would be awesome to do a scratch coxed IV and to wear the most horrendously clashing best kit possible. So we did. And we looked like this:
 Or more precisely, this:

Now I feel this image deserves a little anaylsis.

In the stroke seat you see my good self wearing The Leggings underneath my lycra (for extra hotness), a London Underground shortsleeve (I think maps are awesome, especially on shortsleeves - can you image how fucking cool kit with, say, the map of Middle Earth on it would be? Or a Underground map onesie?!?!) and The Oakleys. Because I have spent quite a lot of time sculling you will observe my outstanding lack of rotation. The same applies to 3 and Bow. I also appear to be not in the slightest bit connected, which is a little worrying as everyone else is....

*Not shown* My complete lack of ability to get my blade out the water for any part of the race. (Either the rigging was a bit wrong or I am a complete retard. You decide.)

At 3 you see Chiara in a CUW onesie with giraffe print down the side, a purple, yellow and black shortsleeve and a rather nice orange visor. Good choice there.

At 2 you witness the only one of us who remembered what upper body rotation was and goddam yellow shiny leggings under blue boat lycra. And an Xchanging longsleeve. Best dressed award goes to Jane!

And at bow we have the revenge of The Leggings and an Oxford shortsleeve. Oh, and Sarah's The Fucking Sunglasses. Woo!

Our cox Chris (who none of us had meet before the race) was quite possibly completely terrified of the sight before him (but who did a stirling job nevertheless).

So, racing. Racing can be summed up thus:

The rate 28 thing was mainly because I COULDN'T GET MY FUCKING BLADE OUT THE WATER. But still, we chunked it along.

Excitement came from us very nearly crashing into a Caius IV who we were chasing. It turns out you're not allowed to overtake until a certain point so we ended up having to stop. Twice. Bad times! The problem is, when your racing, your mind only has this train of thought:
Therefore, all four of us rowers were like "We want to gooooooooooooooooooooooo" and Chris was like "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo" and we swore a lot at nothing in particular.

The other excitement came from the last ~400m of the race when we were in sight of the Corpus Christi IV ahead of us.

Chris: They're seven lengths ahead!
Me: (Thinking)
(I'm pretty certain I didn't say anything comprehensible at this point)
Chris: FIVE LENGTHS **beep** annnnd wind it down.
 Not enough river. Annoying that.

I <heart> racing.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The revenge of the mugs

OK, so I slightly underestimated how popular these things were going to be and I have already run out (in fact my excel spreadsheet says I have -3 mugs...BAAAADDDD). In less than 24 hours. Impressed!
So I was going to order some more, as that seems a sensible thing to do given that -3 mugs is a pretty bad number of mugs to have.

Maybe it's like having an anti-mug particle so when it comes in contact with an actual mug they both annihilate! What an exiting thought!
 Anyway, yes. So I was going to order a bunch more of the life/tea ones but but BUT there is now the exciting opportunity of putting WHATEVER DRAWING YOU WANT ON A MUG for exactly the same amount of money. (My brother wants one of the dog staring at me....). Which is exciting.

These things take about a week to be made and get to me, so I'm setting a sorta deadline for this Saturday (22nd Jan) for any random other mugs you want made up. Seriously, anything. I'll probably draw something for you if you ask me nicely :-) Email meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee :-)

Ooo ooo ooOOoOOOOOOO. I got excited today because this turned up!
Fucking bike jousting, people. On a t-shirt. Epic
I also discovered how hard it is to operate the timer function on your camera without looking like a tool. Although to be fair,"photogenic" is not a word that would describe me anyway, it's just looking like a bit of a twat in photos is somewhat amplified by having to take the photo yourself. At least I didn't fall into the facebook-profile-taking-a-photo-of-yourself-in-the-mirror bollocks *shudder*.

Here's a selection of me looking like a twat for your amusement anyway.
Thumbs up retard!

I-have-no-idea-what-I'mdoing-here retard
Hat AND thumbs up retard.
Hat, thumbs up and jumping in the air retard!
What can I say, the camera loves me darling.

Hmm. Yes.

Here's the flowchart again for the mugs. Because as I said yesterday, flowcharts are important :-)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Interviews, running and mugs

I went to Leeds the other day for some PhD-y interviews. Now, I'd not had an interview since my Cambridge one ooooo 4 years ago, where I cried the during the entire meal my mum took me for afterwards and for the two hour journey home. I also seem to remember having 2 bottles of cider when I got home and feeling much better. But anyway, the old fear was re-awoken like some sort of subterranean troll being poked by a hobbit upon receiving this:

So three hours of interviews with four different professors, all of whom completely kick ass in their field? Oh sweet badgering Christ, I was screwed.

So, train tickets booked, thermos flask full of life-giving (i.e. fucking strong) coffee packed but no Leatherman multitool this time (I didn't deem it appropriate), I headed up norf to almost certain doom and intellectual embarassment.

I had a nervous start:
  Over lunch it transpired that they were all mathematicians from Cambridge in a previous life, so they all told me how hard all my exams were going to be. Thanks guys.
Also, free lunch ftw!
Maths-free introduction to the solar dynamo here if you're interested. 
Although our sun is incredibly run-of-the-mill in the the universe, it is still does some FUCKING COOL STUFF. The magnetic fields churning away under the surface cause all manner of interesting things to happen, the most impressive of which are things called "coronal mass ejections ", i.e. the sun kicks out a tonne of stuff into space.Video-ness! (Sorry for lack of dramatic music/explosion sounds :-<)

Here's a picture of a (quite small) mass ejection with the earth next to it for scale.
 Or, as I like to think of it:
If one of these things is coming towards earth, at this point you should thank your lucky stars (geddit?!?!) that the earth has a magnetic field too to deflect the bugger:
This is where the aurora comes from btw.

Anyway, the interviews went on. (Heck, I'm good at getting side-tracked.)

So the core of the earth is a solid sphere of iron right. New theory out is that it's continually melting on one side and crystalising on the other, with the effect that it's continually moving sideways. Now it might just be me (it probably is and no one is reading at this point), but I think that's pretty cool.

The winds on Jupiter are interesting too - you know how Jupiter is really stripey? Well each different colour stripe is a channel of wind going in alternate directions - completely different to the winds we have on earth (can you imagine sailing in wind that just kept changing its direction by 180°?).  So I actually enjoyed myself and didn't have to have a little cry on the train home, which was nice. Woo!


Not even a little bit more?


Sorry guys, got a little carried away there...

In other news, I made the grave mistake of going on a run with two lightweights who were (a) obviously much lighter than my fat self, (b) fitter than me and (c) much better at running than me. For a 10 miles. I shit you not when I say my heart rate was above 180 for a good hour. There were patches where I couldn't get it below 190. On what was supposed to be a nice UT2 run. Oh dear lord.

Yes, I was in a very un-fun place.

I eventually said when we had about 40mins to go, in what sounded brilliantly poignant and dramatic in my head (but what was probably just a lot of incomprehensible wheezing in real life), "Just go on without me!".

And they did, thank God.

I walked around Coton for a bit convinced I was going to die then manned up and a third ran, third walked and third limped home. In my defence I was a little bit ill (and not in my defence I knew 10 miles was too far but I just said "Oh, it'll be FINE" in stereotypical me fashion). I had spent most of Christmas sounding like the gingerbread man from Shrek (and I really did!) and still haven't really got over it.

I don't know why, but since I've stop training an insane amount my body seems to have become über pathetic and exceptionally prone to breaking.
Anyway, the thing is when you try and swear at your siblings for laughing at you because you sound like the gingerbread man from Shrek, you only make it worse.
 It's a downward spiral, which will only lead to your siblings having tears streaming down their faces with how much a of twat you sound like while you look for something to throw at them.

A life lesson there people. If you've lost your voice, don't go on sweary rants because you'll sound ridiculous.

Finally, I need some help. I foolishly have brought a bunch of these.

 Quite a lot of them in fact...
Oh fuck. That's quite a lot of mugs isn't it?
Basically, I few people wanted them, but the ones on Zazzle I did turned out to be something ridiculous like £18 each with postage and I thought that was fucking stupid. But now my room is full of mugs and I need to get rid of them.
Nothing says insanity like a very small room fulled with lots and lots of the same thing.

So, I do hate to sound like a massive douche trying to sell you stuff all the time, BUT MY ROOM IS FULL OF MUGS and they are pretty cool anyway. And £7 is pretty bargainous. I also made you a flowchart. Because I like flowcharts. And I'm a mathmo and FLOWCHARTS ARE FUN. And why just say "Hey, if you want a mug, drop me an email", when you can do a flow chart to say the same thing!

P.S. I will try and learn how to write less long and windy blog posts one day, sorry.