Observations about the universe, life, Lausanne and me

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I give you: the finger

This is a rare X-ray for me:

What is so special about it? Well, you see, there is nothing broken. All bones are fine. Just goes to show that you can block a side-kick with your open hand if you really have to, so there. It was weird walking out of the hospital without a cast or something - I think I have broken about twelve different bones so far (epiphyseal cartilage on both of my thumbs, both big toes, clavicle [twice, although the one at my birth probably doesn't count], sawed through my thumb, ribs, metatarsal, anklebone, fibula, tibia) which means I have quite a ways to go to catch up with Mister Chan - but I managed, somehow.

Probably also goes to show that I am getting old, and am now running to the hospital for every little stretched ligament, but we shall speak of that no more.

Incidentally, the hospital where I went for the X-ray has a new digital X-ray machine,  which is much more sensitive, and consequently uses really low-power rays. So you don't get a nifty lead-skirt any more to protect your private parts. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean that you can do a couple more x-rays of said parts "just for fun". Believe me, I asked.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Mic repair

Recently my microphone (indispensable for making Skype calls) started to annoy people I phoned with crackling noises, so today I pulled it apart to see why:

Who the fuck wired this up? Godzilla?

Here's your problem! Short-circuits lead to no-good sound quality. So I desoldered  the electret microphone, hunted down a bit of shrink-tubing and then started to resolder it. Word of advice: Think before you start soldering, or else you'll find that you forgot to thread on a crucial piece, and have to start over again. Not that this happened to me, obviously.

Always store some isopropanol right next to hot soldering irons. Makes your life more interesting.

 I used a C-clamp as a temporary third hand, because some #$%@#^! colleague  had stolen mine.

Hot soldering action

If you don't have a hot air blower, use the soldering iron to shrink the shrink-tubing. It'll stink a bit, but it works just fine.


Here is the finished piece. put some shrink-tubing over the lower part of the mic to stabilise the whole thing a bit. That's how it should have been done in the first place, goddamit. That'll teach me to buy cheap microphones...

Good as new

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Lazy man's loaf

Making your own bread is fun, but also work, which can give you unfortunate allergic reactions if you are as lazy as me. Fortunately, there is a way to make bread that takes a long time, but is almost no work at all, because you are forcing tiny slaves to do your work for you.

You'll need:
  • Three cups of flour (white all-purpose, or something more exotic)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of instant yeast (Your tiny slaves, muhahaha!)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • Water
  • Stuff
Here, stuff can be anything you want to have in or on your bread. You can also be boring and not use stuff, but then your tiny slaves will laugh at you, although you'll get your revenge when you kill them all off after they have done their work.

Take all your ingredients and throw them in a bowl. Mix a bit. It will look awful, especially if you've used colourful stuff. Below, I used 80g of greek olives, chopped, and two heaped teaspoons of olive paste as stuff (since greek olives are quite salty, I left out the salt altogether). Consequently, the dough looks like somebody puked into it. Don't worry, that is normal, although if you have room-mates you might want to check with them.

Puke. Or dough. Could be both.

Cover the bowl, and kick it into a corner. Forget it for 12-20 hours. Let your slaves do the work. Call them names if it amuses you. Afterwards, it will look even worse:

Seriously. That could be anything.

Grab the sticky mass, lift it out and put some flour and different stuff in the bowl. Here I've used some pumpkin seeds, which go well with olives. You can also use sesame, porridge or licorice lozenges. Put the dough back in, and throw it around until it gets vaguely loaf-shaped. You could also do this on a work surface, but then you'd have to clean it, stupid.
Loaf-shaped p.. you get the idea.

Cover the bowl again and let it rest for another two hours or so. It'll double in size, and try to eat you. To prevent your premature death by loaf, preheat your oven (setting "scorching"). If you have a pizza-stone put it in, if not a cast-iron pan will work as well. If you have neither, I fart in your general direction, but I guess the loaf will bake naked as well.
Stand in front of your oven and open the door. Then poke the dough - first it will deform: at this point it is not very elastic, then it will lunge at you and try to kill you for disturbing it's rest. Skip aside, and it will land into the blazingly hot pan. Shake the pan a bit to spread it out a bit, and to listen to it's agonising screams. Then put the cover on the pan (use aluminium foil if you don't have one) and bake for thirty minutes. Remove the cover, and gaze in satisfaction at your dead adversary. Bake for ten to fifteen minutes more, until you are happy with the colour of the crust. (If you love black, stop before you are happy. As you are already emo enough, you don't need your loaf to reflect the abyss that is your inner despair. Trust me on this.)

...a great many voices cried out in terror before being suddenly silenced.

Et voilà! Total time of preparation: 14 to 20 hours. Actual time spent doing something: about five minutes. Yeast germs killed: about a gazillion. My kind of bread.

Pumpkin-seed olive loaf
Sesame loaf

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Emotions - sadness

Next one in my series of emotions. A sad widow entering a church on a mountain. This time I thought about placement a bit before I started drawing, but still continued the theme of struggling with perspective - the doorway looks like I wanted to pull of an MC Escher but failed miserably.

Still, I am happy with my little widow, although I had to redraw her so many times that the paper ended up a bit smudged, which is why the scan is a bit light, to hide the smudges. Probably should ink the drawing, but I think instead I'll forge ahead and draw the next emotion: Happiness or rage, not sure which one yet. But what to draw? Rage will probably be something with swords (been oodles since I drew a nice sword, axe or other implement of mayhem!), but happiness? I'll have to think about that...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Space Cowboy

Lausanne is the home of the space cowboy, and his name is François Burland.

That is all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Sushi needs Blowtorch

On Saturday I made - or tried to make - some Nigirizushi (握り寿司), which is what we westerners call sushi except if we looked up the proper term beforehand on wikipedia so that we may appear to know what we are talking about. As you can see below, I  my pitiful attempts at making those oblong rice-things were rather pitiful, and were soon abandoned in favour of more simple Futomaki (太巻 ), which are those algae-wrapped cylindrical morsels of bliss.

 But back to the main thrust of this blarticle, namely the use of the blowtorch for making sushi. For frequent readers of this blog it should not come as a surprise that I view the blowtorch as nigh indispensable in the kitchen - truly it's versatility knows no bounds. From preparing desserts (Créme brulée, oh là là!) to flambéing your coq au vin, from browning your steak to making coffee to teaching kitchen-thieves to keep their greedy fingers to themselves, the blowtorch does it all. And one of the things it does best is make Aburi sushi (炙り寿司).

It's like regular sushi, only you take your fatty fish of choice (salmon above, tuna  exhibited below) and torch the shit out of them for several seconds. The inside will stay awesomely raw, while the outside will develop the delicious flavour of fried fish, adding a certain je ne sais quoi to your Japanese meal, which will get confused since it doesn't speak French, thus ensuring you can devour it before it can flee. Everybody wins!

Oh, and a word to the wise: Don't bother with those wimpy kitchen-blowtorches. People on the street will point at you and laugh, and also they are weaker, more expensive  and less badass. And you wouldn't want less badass in your kitchen, would you?
Thought so.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Emotions - fear

I am still learning how to draw emotions (see my first tries here). From faces, I've graduated to drawing complete scenes. And I am making all the beginner's mistakes, too: I drew the little girl first, then decided to put her in a basement (a favourite past-time of Austrians, as you'll know). Only afterwards did I notice that the perspective of the shelves and the window does not match the viewpoint of the observer of the girl - since we are nearly level with her head, we should be seeing the bottom of the upper shelves, and the top of the window frame.

Well, for the next one I'll do a rough preliminary sketch first, to check out the perspective. Coming up soon: Sorrow.

On a completely different note, I am thoroughly incapable of posting once per day, and will no longer try. I will, however, try to post a couple (for an as yet undefined value of 'couple') of times per week.