Weekend report

9th June 2008 – 7.48 am

I had quite a full weekend, with surprisingly little gaming. I socialised with family, as it was my niece's birthday, watched some MST3K, made Jambalaya, got some Sun on the appropriately rather hot Sunday, finished reading Feersum Endjinn, and poked my head in to a couple of games.

It turns out that the region encoding on the MST3K film that leads me to have to use my less-than-healthy DVD player is present on all the box sets as well. I've only checked one or two, but I am assuming that the encoding will be the same across the collection. That's a little frustrating, but only because I haven't got around to getting the DVD player fixed yet. I watched both Pod People and The Cave Dwellers this weekend, with entertaining company.

I used the same recipe for Jambalaya as before, with the addition of some jumbo prawns and crayfish tails for added seafoody goodness. The dish turned out really tasty again, so is definitely one I'll continue to prepare occasionally. I burnt a bit of rice on the bottom of the pan again, but that just adds to the flavour. I had the same problem when I learnt a new method of cooking rice years ago, and preventing it is a matter of working out what level of heat to use. If too much heat is used the fluids burn off the bottom more quickly and leads to the bottom layer of rice burning on the pan whilst fluids remain suspended higher up. If too little heat is used the fluids take too long to be absorbed or burnt off and the rice ends up burning from being cooked too long anyway. Something like that.

Stirring may not help either, as it releases all the internal heat from the food and can prevent the fluids from evaporating. It's all about finding the right heat to leave the dish simmering on, and the right time to let it cook. Letting the food sit in the pan with the heat turned off for a couple of minutes could help too. I'll get it perfect within the next few attempts, and until then I still produce a tasty meal. The prawns and crayfish add more texture and flavour to the dish too!

I finished reading the introduction to contemporary political philosophy a couple of weeks back, and decided to read some fiction before moving on to the book on free will. Reading text books takes a lot of effort compared to fiction, as more of the words need to be digested and understood for the full meaning to be gained, and in order to gain properly some benefit from reading the book it's necessary to remember as much as possible about it, which adds to the mental overhead too. Fiction, on the other hand, can have every fourth word skipped without too much being missed, and the plot isn't always too necessary to remember as novelists tend to advance it fairly often, leading it to be its own reminder of what's going on. Fiction is a lot easier to read, which is why I decided to read some and have a chance of reading more than two books this year.

I picked up Iain M. Banks's Feersum Endjinn along with Infoquake by David Louis Edelman, and read Banks's book first. The idea of the Encroachment, once I realised what it was, was awesome and horrific, and made for a good background to work against. All of the characters were interesting, and the technology presented was again interesting and engaging, firing my imagination. Bascule was my favourite character, perhaps because his inability to spell understated his capability, particularly as he clearly had a penchant for turning a phrase, but maybe because he was effectively addressing the reader directly. Either way, I enjoyed the book greatly and will no doubt pick up the next book at some point. Infoquake next.

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