Deep-frozen Doughnuts

I recently discovered that doughnuts can successfully be frozen and then quickly reheated in a microwave.  This is definitely a good thing, as I enjoy eating doughnuts and my local supermarket usually has them on an offer whereby it’s cheaper to buy two packs at once but, much as I like to save a bit of money that way, I find that eating 10 doughnuts before they start to go stale is a bit more than I really want (and certainly more than I need).  Being able to freeze some of them means that I can still benefit from the discount but spread the joy over several days or weeks.  Also, it means that I have a tasty (if not particularly nutritious) snack on hand when I want it.

In my microwave, it only takes about 20 or 30 seconds to warm up a frozen doughnut straight out of the freezer.  Presumably that’s due to the high sugar content.  The slightly warm doughnuts are perhaps even nicer than the room-temperature ones eaten on the day of purchase.  I haven’t yet tried warming non-frozen doughnuts or letting defrosted ones cool down before eating them.  Also, my freezing experiments so far have been confined to apple and custard doughnuts.  As a self-respecting scientist, of course, I definitely need to do lots more experiments with a range of different doughnuts and conditions. 🙂

Nearly showtime!

This time next week I will be getting into costume and enduring the tender ministrations of the make-up crew in preparation for the opening night of Iolanthe.  We had the penultimate ordinary rehearsal yesterday and have the final one on Friday, followed by a technical rehearsal on Monday (when we’ll be in the performance venue for the first time and sorting out details of lighting etc.) and a dress rehearsal on Tuesday, then performances from Wednesday to Friday.

By this stage it is, fortunately, beginning to come together quite nicely although it is still a little unpolished in places.  I’m confident that we should be able to put on a show that will be entertaining both for the audience and the players.

In case you happen to be in the area next week, the show is happening at St Paul’s Church in Colwyn Bay (starting at 7:30pm each night, I think) and tickets are available at the bargain price of £5.

Plans afoot!

It’s just over a week since my bike broke down and I’m still without wheeled transport at the moment 😦

I was able to pick up a new cone and axle at the bike shop last Tuesday (the day after the wheel-related fail) but unfortunately it turned out that the hub itself was damaged and needs replacing.  The simplest way to do this is to get a whole new wheel.  I’m making use of the bike’s downtime to do some other maintenance, especially overhauling the bottom bracket which was beginning to get a bit wobbly.

A friend of mine has pointed me towards a charity called Recycle Cycle Cymru, which aims to salvage useable bikes and bike parts that would otherwise end up as landfill and to make them available to people who need them.   As a way of financing the project (and helping to meet the landfill-avoidance goal) they offer bikes and parts to pretty much anyone who wants them for a small donation.  I’ve been in touch with them and established that they have a suitable wheel for me (and the suggested donation is significantly less than a new wheel would cost).   Fortunately they are based in Bethesda, which is only a few miles from where I live, so it will be quite straightforward to go and pick the wheel up (probably by bus, since I’m currently bikeless).  Unfortunately, I can’t get it until the weekend (I assume that’s when the workshop will next be open, since they didn’t offer me the option of going earlier).

I should also be getting my old bike back from the friend who currently has it.  That was an old but serviceable touring bike I was given about 10 years ago and rode for a while before upgrading to my current mountain bike (mainly so that I could go exploring off-road trails).  After it had sat inactive in my shed for a few years, I gave it to a friend and it sat inactive in his shed for a few years before he gave it to a mutual friend, in whose shed it now sits inactive.  I asked him if he was planning to do anything with it and he said I could have it back if I wanted it.  I think it will need a little work to get roadworthy, but it will be useful to have a spare bike for when my other one is down for maintenance.  In fact, it may even be a better choice of bike to use when I’m planning to travel exclusively on the road, since it has bigger wheels.

Happy Pi Day

Today is Pi Day (see this Wikipedia article if you want to know why).

I usually try to celebrate it by eating (and occasionally even baking) some kind of a pie but this evening I’m supposed to be going out for a Chinese meal with some friends (a belated Christmas celebration in fact), so I don’t know if I’ll get round to it.  I’ve also got a spotify playlist of songs about pie (or at least mentioning it in the title), which I may well listen to (as far as I can remember, it does include the song Pi by Kate Bush).

As far as I can recall, I came up with the idea of celebrating Pi Day about 8 or 9 years ago and then discovered shortly afterwards that it had already been thought of some years previously.  Actually, it’s probably more likely that I had already come across some reference to Pi Day and filed it away subconsciously.

If I remember, I’ll also be celebrating both Pi Approximation Day (most likely by eating something fairly pie-like) and Tau Day (by eating two pies) later in the year!

Shanks’ pony

I had a bit of mechanical trouble on my way home from work this evening, as the rear wheel of my bike seized up.  The good news was that I was within half a kilometre of home, so it wasn’t too far to carry the bike (having established that a quick roadside fix was out of the question).  The bad news was that I had been shopping so I had relatively full (and consequently heavy) panniers to add to the load.

On taking the rear wheel hub assembly apart, I discovered that the problem was a mashed bearing cone, which probably indicates that I didn’t get it properly adjusted when I changed the axle a few months ago.  I’m hoping that I should be able to get a new cone at the bike shop tomorrow, and it should be a fairly easy job to fix (though I’ll have to take more care with the adjustment this time).  However, it does mean that, tomorrow at least, I will have to walk into town instead of riding, which will take about three times as long and necessitate a somewhat earlier start in the morning.  It’s a pleasant walk if the weather’s nice, but I’d prefer to be able to spend a bit longer in bed.

Short SF poems / science fiction haiku / A bit like this

According to a standard storytelling trope, good things (as well as bad and ugly ones) come in threes. While I don’t usually make any particular effort to follow this rule on my blog, I thought it would be quite a good excuse for following up my last couple of posts with another one on a pairing of my interests.  Today’s theme is SciFaiku (aka scifiku or scifi-ku).

The SciFaiku Manifesto describes SciFaiku as “a distinctive and powerful form of expression for science fiction. It packs all the human insight, technology, and vision of the future into a few poignant lines. SciFaiku is haiku and it is not haiku. It is driven by the inspiration and many of the principles of haiku, but it takes its own direction. It deviates, expands, and frees itself of haiku.”

I first came across the concept of SciFaiku several years ago, doubtless while reading up on haiku (itself an artform combining my interests in Japanese and poetry).  Unlike filk music, I have tried my hand at SciFaiku a few times.  I wrote a couple back in August 2006, which was probably fairly shortly after I first heard of them.

The first one is:

Swimming round my blood

tiny sentinels

keeping me fit and strong

This was written with nanotechnology in mind, but I realised sometime after writing it that it could equally well apply to antibodies (which would, I suppose, make it a something like Mediku or a Biku rather than a SciFaiku; both of those are terms I just made up and I doubt either will catch on).

The second was designed to be a summary of the film Gattaca, which I must have watched fairly shortly before writing it.  It ran:

Imperfect genes;

yet fool the scanners

and reach for the stars.

I can’t remember whether I wrote any more after that, but those are the only two I still have written down apart from one I wrote yesterday (while thinking about this post).  This one is inspired by Firefly, which is probably my favourite TV series ever (so far):

In the black

soar like a leaf on the wind

Serenity

If you read this post when it first went up, you may have noticed that I have subsequently edited the middle line of this SciFaiku.  That’s because I was listening to a bit of Firefly-inspired filk music by the Bedlam Bards which used the line “soar like a leaf on the wind” as a refrain, and this seemed to work better than my original line (“flying free as a bird”).  I’m fairly sure it’s a quote from the film – I think it’s uttered by Wash towards the end.

NB I’m sure you noticed that the title of this post is roughly in haiku format, but it would probably not count as SciFaiku.  If anything, I suppose, it is meta-SciFaiku!?

Not a typo!

Perhaps inspired by my post yesterday about coffee beer, I have today been enjoying another blend of two things I love and listening to filk music (thanks to the last.fm tag radio).

In case you’re wondering, filk is not a typo.  Although there is no canonical definition of the term, it could be defined roughly as folk music on science-fiction themes, although both the musical genre and the subject matter are somewhat more flexible than that definition would suggest.

Actually, despite what I said just now, apparently the term did originate as a typo.  It appeared in the early 1950s in the title of an essay by somebody called Lee Jacobs:  “The Influence of Science Fiction on Modern American Filk Music” (which was, of course intended to be “…Folk Music”).  What was to become known as filk music was already happening by then, mostly in impromptu singing sessions at science fiction conventions, although it became more established in the 1970s.

Rather than reciting a load more information about filk music that I’ve just been reading about, I will direct you to the Wikipedia article on the subject (which has links to several other sources of information) if you are interested enough to learn more about it.

As far as I can remember, my fairly sporadic song-writing efforts to date have never ventured into what could legitimately be called filk territory.  I did once write a song about (or rather, against) mobile phones, as well as a tune entitled dodecahedron (so-named because you could sing it quite easily by just repeating the name of my favourite platonic solid), but I don’t think that either count.