Wulf's Webden

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Friday 12 February 2016
by Wulf
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So much for tasting notes…

Last year I posted a couple of times about a Fullers beer I’d come called Bengal Lancer. I didn’t like it on tap in a pub, preferred it in bottle form but concluded that it wasn’t near the top of my favourites. However, not checking back on my blog, I ordered some for the Christmas period when originally there was curry on the menu (later switched to Waterzooi, remembering our holiday in Brussels, and thus some Belgian beer was called for instead).

I’ve had the Bengal Lancer this week and this time I really enjoyed it. Last year I described it as “… sweeter than I like up front with an overpowering hop aftertaste”. This time, I’m more inclined to describe it as having malty sweetness and a floral afternote. Go figure!

Perhaps I’ll try it in 2017 and see what I think of it then. Right now though, I thought it was an excellent accompaniment for a hot curry (tonight’s meal); maybe the context of the food made all the difference? Looking back to my first set of notes, about the draught experience, I wrote that I found it “more like hopped wort than a properly finished brew”. I can see that but, against the right fodder, malty sweetness is an excellent accompaniment.

Thursday 11 February 2016
by Wulf
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Finding its way

Drones are all over the place, or at least certainly all over the techie end of the news. I spotted a story on Gizmag this morning claiming that drones could follow trails to find lost hikers. Apparently the development team, from three Swiss universities, has developed software that can follow forest trails better than humans (85% accuracy compared to 82% for us meatsacks). The plan is that drones could be sent out to look for lost people, faster and down trails with known hazards that would slow human searchers (I imagine paths alongside yawning chasms and so forth).

The team admit they’ve still got to refine their software to spot the missing person when the drone comes across them but I can see a couple of other flaws as well. Firstly, as far as I’m aware, drone batteries currently have a fairly short range. They’ve got to be light but have to power multiple rotors, a camera and other processing and communication equipment. Round the range down a bit for safety and halve it to allow the device to return to base rather than becoming another lost thing to retrieve and I suspect you are looking at about five minutes of search time which quickly loses out to the ability of humans to keep going.

Secondly, surely people who can stick to the paths are less likely to be the ones in danger? Even if they sort out spotting humans and running long enough to get out of sight of the starting point, surely the drones would be better covering all the options that a sensible hiker wouldn’t follow? That’s not to say that the research is pointless but I can’t see the main aim, as conveyed in the article, ending up as the most important breakthrough.

Wednesday 10 February 2016
by Wulf
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Giving up a mockingbird

Lent! In recent years I’ve given up late nights and lie ins but what about this year? I’ve noticed I’m getting little broad-girthed so I think I’ll see if I can drop a mockingbird. A mockingbird? Brace yourself for the pun: about 2 kilos. If you didn’t get that, you should go set a watchman.

I haven’t got a particular plan other than trying to be a bit more cautious about portion sizes, snacks and drinks. There will be points where I feel hungry and, rather than always solving that by sating my appetite, I’ll try to use that as a prompt to some more prayer contemplation instead. The first thing on the agenda though is to do a weigh in tomorrow morning. I’m not a great one for regular weigh ins, not least because I understand that, with a dynamic system like the body, it can fluctuate to a certain degree, but I’ll probably keep a daily record over the period leading up to Easter to check that the general trend is in the intended direction.

What about you? Any disciplines or practices in mind for the season?

Tuesday 9 February 2016
by Wulf
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Piles of Pancakes

Shrove Tuesday today and I think I’ve had my fill of pancakes for this year. We were expecting some guests last night who ended up not being able to make it so used up some of the batter I made last night and the rest this morning.

I was pleased, however, to find that the new cooker worked well for the job. One of the limitations of an induction hob is that it protests when it doesn’t detect a metal surface in close proximity – such as when you lift the pan to shake and flip the pancake. This was my first attempt at pancakes with it and, although I couldn’t flip quickly enough to avoid the F for fail turning up on the display, it jumped happily enough to operation when the pan was returned (unlike our cheap, standalone induction hob, which needed resetting every time). I also noticed that even the first pancake turned out pretty much as well as the rest, which is probably down to induction getting the crepe pan heated up quickly and evenly.

Monday 8 February 2016
by Wulf
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There’s a Word for That

I love the floribund nature of the English language. Why use two or three words when there is a bloom to be plucked for just that opportunity. Therefore I was delighted to stumble across another list of unusual verbiage last week.

I knew quite a few of them and had some minor disagreements with others (aglet? any enclosure at the end of a shoelace I think, not just a metal one) but there were some delightful additions to my vocabulary too. One of my favourites and the one I’ve had a chance to drop into conversation so far is griffonage, handwriting so bad as to be almost illegible.

Pick a favourite from the list, new or old, and see if you can work it into conversation today.

Sunday 7 February 2016
by Wulf
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Cores and Ores

What of my dross thou findest there, be bold
To throw away, but yet preserve the gold;
What if my gold be wrapped up in ore? —
None throws away the apple for the core.
But if thou shalt cast all away as vain,
I know not but ’twill make me dream again.

You might guess where that comes from if you remember the book I started reading near the start of last month. I finished my journey and reached the end of Pilgrim’s Progress this morning. Some of it I had remembered but I’d forgotten the pacing of the story and many of the details, including the ‘umble ending.

One question that occured to me several times was why Christian didn’t just ask or heed the names of the people he met? It would save a lot of trouble if he didn’t, for example, waste time tarrying with Ignorance! Of course, that is just the kind of sharp pin you can’t bring into the bubble of an allegory. More respectfully, the work is all the more remarkable for having been written while Bunyan was in prison — and, I expect, not the modern sort with plenty of sunlight and a decent library.

What I have I learned from the re-reading? It is hard to pin down but rather than laying down down my reading project to have an enchanted rest, I’ll press on, seeking discourse with wise Christian sages of the ages. Now, what’s my next classic to be? That’s a question to ponder this afternoon.

Saturday 6 February 2016
by Wulf
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A Reasonable Weekly Shop?

What is a reasonable cost of weekly grocery shopping for a couple? I’m surprised how often Jane and I can reach the the £40 minimum that came into place for an online shop with Tesco a few months ago. We have been signed up for their delivery saver deal for sometime so as long as we put an order in most weeks, the actual cost of the delivery service is less than a couple of quid, which easily makes up for time petrol, time and ‘ooo… let’s try this’ temptations that actually going to a supermarket faces you with. However, that was easier when the minimum was £25 as it isn’t a saving if you end up buying things you don’t need to reach the threshold.

This week, we’re at the point of having enough things in that it is just a few short-lived groceries like milk and fruit that need topping up. I think I’m going to have to take a quick run out in person tonight and I’m sure Tesco won’t be amused that the slogan floating round in my brain is ‘Every Lidl helps’!