ceb: (I made this)
([personal profile] ceb Mar. 26th, 2017 11:00 pm)
This weekend I have made a thing! Which is neither for Worldcon nor the BSFA, unlike everything else I've been doing in the past 6 months.

moon box
liv: alternating calligraphed and modern letters (letters)
([personal profile] liv Mar. 22nd, 2017 10:26 pm)
Recently acquired:
  • Can neuroscience change our minds? by Hilary and Steven Rose. Steven Rose was a big influence on getting me into bioscience, so I excited to learn that he's written a new book about debunking neurobollocks, a subject close to my heart. And that he's written it in collaboration with his wife, a sociologist of science.

  • Three non-fiction books to give as belated bar mitzvah presents: I went with A history of God by Karen Armstrong, 1491 by Charles Mann, and The undercover economist by Tim Harford in the end. I reckon that gives a reasonable spread of perspectives, periods and cultures to get a curious teenager started.

  • A whole bunch of mostly novels for a not-very-sekrit plot.

Recently read:
  • This is a letter to my son by KJ Kabza, as recommended, and edited by [personal profile] rushthatspeaks. It's a near-future story about a trans girl, which has minimal overt transphobia but quite a lot of cis people being clueless, and also it's about parent death among other themes.

  • Why Lemonade is for Black women by Dominique Matti, via [personal profile] sonia. Very powerful essay about intersectionality between gender and race. I've not actually seen Lemonade yet, because everything I've read about it suggests it's a large, complex work of art which I need to set aside time to concentrate on, I can't just listen to the songs in the background. And I'm a bit intimidated by the medium of a "visual album".
Currently reading: A Journey to the end of the Millennium by AB Yehoshua. Not much progress.

Up next: I am thinking to pick up How to be both by Ali Smith, which has been on my to-read pile for a while. We'll see.
ceb: (exams)
([personal profile] ceb Mar. 22nd, 2017 02:25 pm)
FLOATING PENNYWORT WORKING PARTY ON THE UPPER CAM, SATURDAY 1ST APRIL
2017

The invasive Floating Pennywort has in recent years colonised the lower
Bourn Brook, the River Cam and some of its minor tributaries, and is
affecting an SSSI near Wicken. It is also spreading down river on the
River Ouse and has been found as far down river as the Denver Sluice.
Since 1990, when it was first found in the wild on the River Chelmer in
Essex, it has spread rapidly and each year the number of affected sites
is expanding exponentially. In high season there are long stretches of
the Cam where dense mats reach out towards the centre of the river, and
in one part it has grown from bank to bank. It is a threat to
bio-diversity, a nuisance to river users and could increase the risk of
flooding.

This week contractors for the Cam Conservators have been removing as
much as they can from the upper Cam by mechanized means, but inevitably
this will leave floating remnants and inaccessible patches. If left,
these remnants will soon grow. The Cam Valley Forum and associates are
organising a major volunteer punt day on SATURDAY 1ST APRIL ON THE UPPER
CAM, and we are inviting you to join us. The target is to remove as much
as possible on the day, from Byron’s Pool to Scudamores boat station.
Scudamores are kindly giving us ten punts for the task, which will need
a minimum crew of one experienced poler, a raker and a netter. And just
as important, we also need people on the bank to rake out easy-to-reach
Pennywort and to help with lifting out filled bins from the punts and to
dispose of the material on the bank. Not everyone feels comfortable on
a punt in which case a bank job would be ideal. Up to forty people may
be required to take this project forward and we hope that you have the
enthusiasm and time to be part of this unique experience.

If you would like to take part, or have any queries please contact Mike
Foley (Cam Valley Forum) on mfpfoley@gmail.com

We envisage a early start time between 9 – 10 am and those punts that
go the furthest (Byron’s Pool) will not necessarily be out for longer
as there is much to do in the Grantchester Meadows area. It would be
very useful if you could supply details of your experience, how long you
want to be involved, and whether your role would be on land or on water.
An indication of whether you possess a long handled rake and are
prepared to bring it would also be useful.

More detailed information will be available to those who express an
interest.

Mike Foley
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
([personal profile] liv Mar. 21st, 2017 09:48 pm)
So this weekend I went to two synagogue services (in two different cities) and one church service, and I had a quiet going out for lunch and talking date with [personal profile] cjwatson and a bouncy metal gig date with Ghoti. And went to the cinema to see Beauty and the Beast and just about managed to squeeze in a little bit of time talking to [personal profile] jack. Um, it is hypothetically possible that I may have over-scheduled myself a bit.

I had fun, though )
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Overgrowth (AKA the realistic ninja rabbit game)

Oh look! Cute anthropomorphic rabbits. This is going to be bloody, isn't it?

I only played a little of this. I love the basic mechanics. You control a humanoid rabbit walking around a 3d environment. AIUI, the characters are actually composed of separate limbs etc not just treated as a moving cylinder. You have a whole bunch of ninja moves, but they mostly depend on how you're moving and the attack button: like, "high kick left" is done by "move left and press attack". That means, it's easy to cause attacks to happen, and if you just want to spam *some* attack, it's easy to do so. But if you want to do specific moves which are necessary to the situation, or to roll with attacks and come to your feet, you need a bunch of practice. So there's an immediately apparent bunch of skills, not just "abilities which are unlocked".

It really feels like ninja combat: many enemies can be taken out in one punch, unless they block in which case you need to vary the attacks. Knives are dangerous: you need to knock them away, but can then roll to pick them up and have a big temporary advantage over one enemy.

Disturbingly, you get bloody as you get hit or cut. Not excessively for the amount of damage you've taken, but it's a real contrast to non-anthropomorphic-rabbit games, where you're usually immune and enemies usually go straight from "upright" to "shower of stars" or "shower of blood".

But I didn't put a lot of time into the actual game, so I don't know how it would be to play for longer.

Virus called Tom

Hilarious setting, a mad scientist who sends an intelligent virus (you) to take revenge on a corporation who sidelined him. You slide around a grid, trying to rotate tiles so circuits become complete. Quite fun, but I didn't persevere.

Ninja Pizza Girl

You're a teenage girl delivering pizza by dodging, jumping, ducking obstacles. Each level has a few implicit challenges: first to complete it at all, and then collect all the items and finish with an excellent time, which unlocks stuff.

The banter with her father and little brother are funny, and generally uplifting: they tease each other a lot, but are quite good for each other.

You periodically meet rival ninja pizza deliverers, who function as enemies, except your character doesn't lose a life, instead, they're knocked off their feet, and tauntingly laughed at until they stand up, which is really quite emotion-provoking. And when you get a good momentum going, the screen lights up whizzy and rainbow, but when you're knocked over repeatedly, it goes grey and dull. Many of the unlocks are self-care things which make the world happy again.
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liv: Bookshelf labelled: Caution. Hungry bookworm (bookies)
([personal profile] liv Mar. 15th, 2017 07:09 pm)
So my two former bar mitzvah students want to carry on with Hebrew now they've both completed their ceremonies. They've said they'd like to do a bit more conversational modern Hebrew as well as just practising prayerbook reading. Does anyone have any recommendations for textbooks?

The boys are 13 and 15, both reasonably academically able and reasonably committed. They can read fairly fluently, but have very little vocab or grammar at the moment. They're also extremely busy and probably won't have huge amounts of time for practice in between their fortnightly lessons. My options at the moment are:
The textbook recommended by the GCSE exam board. I'd generally like the boys to be thinking about GCSE sort of level, not that they hugely have to pass exams but as a streching, but attainable, target. The problem is that the book looks incredibly dated and dull and I don't feel inspired to teach from it!

Or Routledge Introductory Course in Modern Hebrew. I think this is basically aimed at beginners, but beginners who are university students or otherwise quite advanced in general language skills. It's really quite heavy on grammar, and might be overkill for a couple of years of informal lessons for teenagers.

I can't find anything I like better than these two options. I don't want a course that is primarily audio for self-learning, because I'm going to be there teaching and keeping up reading fluency is a big priority. And I don't want just a vocab list or beginners' dictionary. The younger boy suggested using a tourist phrasebook, which might work but ideally I'd like something more like a textbook and less like lists of phrases to rote learn.

Secondly, I still have not succeeded in giving the younger lad his bar mitzvah present, because everything I could think of is out of print and not for sale for reasonable money. I would like to give him a good work of popular non-fiction, something enjoyable to read but also informative. He's quite interested in politics and world affairs, which is a subject I know little about. And he's pretty bright but not especially precocious, I think he'd get more out of something accessible or even aimed at teenagers, than something hardcore academic.

I'm thinking something about the level of Jared Diamond's Guns, germs and steel, except not that because I'm now aware that Diamond not only plays fast and loose with scholarly accuracy, he conducted some rather unethical ethnographic research and published identifying stories about his subjects without their permission. And I have in mind that there used to be a journalist who did short programmes on Radio 4 about US politics and culture, and that he died a few years ago (?) and that prior to that he had written a book of anecdotes that this young man might enjoy, but that's not enough information to shake his name out of Google, does anyone have any clue whom I'm talking about?

So. Anyone who's taught conversational Hebrew, any recs? And in a less specialist query, what's the most interesting popular non-fiction book you've read lately?
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chanaleh: (crow's nest)
([personal profile] chanaleh Feb. 24th, 2017 12:08 am)
President's Day weekend I had the opportunity to go into Chicago twice in three days, which is practically unheard-of.

Saturday night )

Monday afternoon )
chanaleh: Mama with Aria, age 18 months (aria-18mos)
([personal profile] chanaleh Mar. 5th, 2017 11:36 pm)
[backdated a bit out of shame]

Look, a new userpic!!

I forgot to note last month that she was just starting to grow out of all the 18-month size clothes, right on schedule. Read more... )
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liv: In English: My fandom is text obsessed / In Hebrew: These are the words (words)
([personal profile] liv Mar. 13th, 2017 09:30 pm)
I think of myself very much as someone who does interfaith, but I haven't really had any opportunities for it for ages. And then two came along at once:

yay connections )

So basically I'm full of enthusiasm and really energized by getting a chance to do interfaith again. And I've been babbling at my partners about stuff that they're not very familiar with, so hopefully this post is a bit more coherent.
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I expect these can be improved by further iteration, but the version I made this weekend was v well received so I wanted to record while I had the chance. I made these for 14, and it worked at scale pretty well so I can dig out exact quantities if anyone needs, but when I'm making it at home I usually wing it (and produce a biggish version which will produce leftovers for extra guests, for supper, or for the rest of the week).

Five cheese pasta bake

Cook pasta
Fry assorted veg and halloumi with onion, garlic and spices (I used cumin and coriander, I think, but don't know what would work best. I often use chilli too).
Melt boursin (put it in with the drained pasta and back on the heat or in with the veg)
Mix pasta, veg and boursin in a baking dish
Grate lots of grana padano and spread over the top
Optionally, tesselate smoked cheese circular slices on top (some just melt but some par-melt and look v good)
Bake until done (about 30 min?)

And I used lots of grated cheddar mixed in to the bake and with the topping.

Cheeseless pasta bake

Originally borrowed from here: https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/vegan-lasagna-29439 at S's suggestion.

Basically the same veg and pasta, but mixed with a cheese-replacement sauce. I only tried this once before and it didn't work so well, so I don't know which steps are necessary, and which could be missed our or improved, but what I did was:

Take a pack of tofu, and drain. (Squeeze repeatedly, then repeatedly squeeze with paper towels until they're only mildly damp)
We froze the tofu and defrost, which some people recommend for crispier tofu, I don't know if it helped here or not.
Mix with nutritional yeast (AKA yeast flakes. I used three heaped tablespoons per pack of tofu. Some people online think american nutritional yeast brands are better than the one commonly available here. Available at some but not all supermarkets and many health food shops.)
Mix with zest and juice of lemon (I used one lemon per two packs of tofu).
I added a dash of soy sauce, salt, black pepper, and parsley. Don't know which matter.
Mash it all up together.

This was fiddly because we needed to hurry the defrosting with the microwave and weren't practiced at draining the tofu. If you don't have that problem, it doesn't really take any prep, it's just "mix it all together".

And for this bake, I mixed the pasta, veg, and tofu together, and also added several (lightly mixed) eggs as an extra binding. For a vegan pasta bake, you can do without that.

As suggested in the original recipe, I cooked it for about 50 minutes covered with foil, and then 10 min without. When I tried it without, the top of the bake was a bit burned. But there may be a better way of cooking it. Or a variant of making the cheese or eggs more of a topping and the other more of a filling.
.