Cooking for other people

Dec. 5th, 2016 04:36 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
[personal profile] bunnypip asked about "cooking for other people and what you get out of it (because it's something I used to love and fell out of love with) are there any downsides for you that make it less fun? what are the best bits?"

Basically, I just really like food. Eating really delicious things is one of my favourite things to do, and especially one of my favourite things to share doing. So cooking for other people is just an extension of that really; it means I get to share eating (hopefully!) delicious things whilst at the same time knowing that I made it happen.

One of the really nice upsides to living in Northampton for a while is having new people to feed; all the dishes that I've cooked dozens of times for [ profile] obandsoller and [ profile] robert_jones get to be appreciated anew by [personal profile] hjdoom and [ profile] vyvyan, and I find myself experiencing them with a fresh palate as well.

The best bit is when you serve dinner to a noisy room full of fabulous people, and then for the next five or ten minutes silence descends, because everyone is too focused on the food to continue their conversations, no matter how engaging, and you know that you've absolutely nailed it. I don't manage this every time, but it never gets old.

There aren't many downsides. I used to get very stressed about things coming out less than perfectly, but by now I'm confident enough that I'll be able salvage something edible from nearly any mistake, and that the people I cook for will be forgiving even if it does go horribly wrong and I have to resort to ordering takeaway. And unsurprisingly, being more relaxed means that things go wrong much less often anyway.

(no subject)

Dec. 3rd, 2016 11:02 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
The site slowdown tonight (Saturday night) is due to database load -- Saturday nights are one of our busiest times and we're still going to need to do some performance tweaks to our new setup over the next few days as we run into load issues. (Some problems only show up once all y'all start banging on the site!) We've made a few changes now that will improve things for some people, and will do a more permanent fix later on tonight or tomorrow morning once the traffic dies down, since doing it now would just increase database load.

Site performance may continue to be rocky on and off for the next few days until we get everything tuned the way it needs to be tuned -- thank you for your patience!

Fic! Kind of!

Dec. 3rd, 2016 11:05 pm
happydork: A graph-theoretic tree in the shape of a dog, with the caption "Tree (with bark)" (Default)
[personal profile] happydork
On twitter the other day, @sanditoncoffee tweeted We just received a DM that just said "Wanna fuck?" and then a link. We cannot fuck anybody. We are a coffee shop.

Following such provocation, you can hardly blame me for this tiny little ficlet: 6 times these north London coffee shops made us believe in love (Anthropomorfic - Original Coffee Shop/Original Coffee Shop).

Known Issues Update 12/2

Dec. 2nd, 2016 10:21 am
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[staff profile] karzilla posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
  • The site may occasionally be slow to respond or have trouble connecting as we tune servers and databases, or you may receive Gateway Timeout errors.

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  • Logging into other sites using your Dreamwidth OpenID is working again! Yay!

  • Loading embedded content over secure connections should be fixed!

  • There is a known problem with trying to rearrange elements on the Beta Update page because a script element isn't loading properly. Update: This should be fixed now!

Let us know if you see anything else odd with the site that isn't listed here!

Extraordinary women

Dec. 2nd, 2016 11:48 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
My kid sister sets off today on this expedition to Antarctica.

I am so proud I could burst.

Ubuntu still isn't free software

Dec. 2nd, 2016 01:12 am
[personal profile] mjg59
Mark Shuttleworth just blogged about their stance against unofficial Ubuntu images. The assertion is that a cloud hoster is providing unofficial and modified Ubuntu images, and that these images are meaningfully different from upstream Ubuntu in terms of their functionality and security. Users are attempting to make use of these images, are finding that they don't work properly and are assuming that Ubuntu is a shoddy product. This is an entirely legitimate concern, and if Canonical are acting to reduce user confusion then they should be commended for that.

The appropriate means to handle this kind of issue is trademark law. If someone claims that something is Ubuntu when it isn't, that's probably an infringement of the trademark and it's entirely reasonable for the trademark owner to take action to protect the value associated with their trademark. But Canonical's IP policy goes much further than that - it can be interpreted as meaning[1] that you can't distribute works based on Ubuntu without paying Canonical for the privilege, even if you call it something other than Ubuntu.

This remains incompatible with the principles of free software. The freedom to take someone else's work and redistribute it is a vital part of the four freedoms. It's legitimate for Canonical to insist that you not pass it off as their work when doing so, but their IP policy continues to insist that you remove all references to Canonical's trademarks even if their use would not infringe trademark law.

If you ask a copyright holder if you can give a copy of their work to someone else (assuming it doesn't infringe trademark law), and they say no or insist you need an additional contract, it's not free software. If they insist that you recompile source code before you can give copies to someone else, it's not free software. Asking that you remove trademarks that would otherwise infringe trademark law is fine, but if you can't use their trademarks in non-infringing ways, that's still not free software.

Canonical's IP policy continues to impose restrictions on all of these things, and therefore Ubuntu is not free software.

[1] And by "interpreted as meaning" I mean that's what it says and Canonical refuse to say otherwise

(no subject)

Dec. 1st, 2016 12:14 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We have now cut over to our new hardware! If you can see this, the site should be working for you.

Things you don't need to tell us about:

* The site may look a little weird or naked for a while as your computer/network/ISP/etc catches up with the switch.
* Comment notification emails should be going out properly, but inbound email (post-by-email and comment-by-email) may be delayed for a bit while your outgoing mail server catches up with the switch.
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Known issues:

* Accessing the site will be slow for a while as the caches warm back up, and you may receive Gateway Timeout errors.
* Due to the occasional database connection problem due to high load and site slowness earlier, some comments did not generate emailed notifications and those notifications can't be re-sent. New comments made since we resolved the DB problems are generating email notifications, but slowly (due to the general database slowness).
* Logging in to other sites using your Dreamwidth OpenID is broken (& we'll fix it as soon as we can!)

Let us know if you see anything else weird!


Dec. 1st, 2016 03:58 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(Responding to a prompt from [personal profile] sfred)

I find myself extremely polaraised by anticipation. When I really want something and am not sure whether I'm going to get it or not I am /terrible/ at waiting to find out. I get anxious and miserable and irrational and can't think about anything else and catastrophise and act in ways that make me less likely to get it. It's no fun at all.

When I'm waiting for something that I know is coming it can go one of two ways. When it's something that not having is making me unhappy I mostly try not to think about it and get on with things, which works okay until it gets close, and then suddenly a switch flicks and the last few days or weeks become unbearable.

When it's something that I'm fine without, but having will be shiny and glorious and extra, then the anticipation becomes a joy in and of itself. I daydream and I plan and I sing to myself inside my head, and I get almost as much pleasure out of this process as I do out of the thing in itself.

(no subject)

Dec. 1st, 2016 09:17 am
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
We are now within our maintenance window for today. The site will go into read-only mode when we're ready to begin the maintenance, and will be unavailable for at least most of the morning. Watch our Twitter status account for updates!

Unexpected item in bagging area

Dec. 1st, 2016 05:23 am
azurelunatic: Prayer to the Bastard from Lois McMaster Bujold's Paladin of Souls (Default)
[personal profile] azurelunatic
I have a follow-up appointment and pelvic exam with my surgeon on Friday. Purple and I were brainstorming items that the surgeon would not be expecting to find when inspecting the surgical site.

Kinder egg (without chocolate)
Kinder egg (chocolate and all)
Toy fire truck
Slide whistle
Entire Google car (full size) (we were at the Five Guys on Rengstorff, so there were lots of them driving past; I saw three simultaneously at one point)
Tiny model uterus (he already took one out)
A crab. (Zodiac Cancer.)

Reminder: Downtime tomorrow

Nov. 30th, 2016 10:06 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
A reminder: the site will be down/in read-only mode tomorrow for server maintenance for at least a little while. (Some people may also have trouble accessing the site even after it comes back up, depending on your network/computer/ISP settings.) We're beginning the maintenance window at 10AM EST/7AM PST/11PM UTC, and to be on the safe side, we're setting a window of 8 hours for possible downtime. It probably won't take that long, but there's also a (very small) chance it may take longer! We'll keep you updated on any changes with our off-site status Twitter account.

Question thread #47

Nov. 30th, 2016 08:19 pm
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[personal profile] pauamma posting in [site community profile] dw_dev
It's time for another question thread!

The rules:

- You may ask any dev-related question you have in a comment. (It doesn't even need to be about Dreamwidth, although if it involves a language/library/framework/database Dreamwidth doesn't use, you will probably get answers pointing that out and suggesting a better place to ask.)
- You may also answer any question, using the guidelines given in To Answer, Or Not To Answer and in this comment thread.
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
As we prep for tomorrow's server maintenance, the site may look weird or 'naked' (no styling, images not loading, etc) on and off over the next hour or so. If you notice it, there's no need to report it: if it happens, we did it on purpose.

Mini book reviews

Nov. 30th, 2016 11:21 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(This wasn't prompted, and I've only got one in the pipeline, so more prompts/questions very much appreciated.)

Sandman - Neil Gaiman
I definitely thought I’d read all of this before, but one of the volumes, “A Game of You” was the book for the Northampton queer book club a couple of months ago, so I decided to re-read the whole series, and realised that actually I’d only gotten part way through it previously. I didn’t go to the book club in the end, but I’m quite glad it prompted me to pick it up again. As I was reading it felt less coherent than I remember it being, but once I actually got to the end a lot of things seemed to fit into place, and I was quite tempted to go straight back to the beginning and reread it to see how different it felt knowing how it all fitted together. I think I found various of the supporting cast rather more interesting than the Endless themselves, but that’s mostly praise of the former than criticism of the latter. There’s an impressive array of emotional notes, and I both laughed aloud and wept quietly as I read. I think the only thing I didn’t like was Desire’s arc, but I’m not sure how it could be changed to something that I was happier with whilst leaving the rest of the stories intact. There were other books and also pianos grabbing my attention, so I didn’t actually re-read it immediately, but I am looking forward to stepping back into it soon.

On Liberty - John Stuart Mill
I started reading this a few times and kept getting distracted and having to restart so I could have the whole thing in my head at once. I was less impressed by it than I expected to be - the core idea (“That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant . . . Over himself, over his body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”) is excellent and important, but I felt that his treatment of the difficult cases of where the boundaries of power lie, and what constitutes harm to others (particularly in the case of harm by inaction) was quite weak, and that since it’s generally around those edge cases that people disagree, the value of the book is a bit limited nowadays. Having said that, I imagine that at the time of writing, there was a lot more disagreement with the core idea, and it’s good to see the history of the ideas which we take as read now. Another criticism is that it suffers from wearing the benevolent racism of its time quite unashamedly, so I’d recommend against reading it if that’s something you’d find upsetting.

Newcomb's paradox

Nov. 29th, 2016 11:53 pm
gerald_duck: (female-mallard-frontal)
[personal profile] gerald_duck
Via Facebook, I today encountered this article by Alex Bellos on Newcomb's Paradox.

(If you're not already familiar with it, this posting won't make sense unless you glance at one or other of those two links. Note, by the way, that Alex Bellos and Wikipedia label boxes A and B opposite ways round from one another.)

I did know Newcomb's Paradox. I encountered it many years ago thanks to the late, great, Martin Gardner, and decided it had to be largely a terminological problem I declined to answer without greater clarity. My worries were adjacent to what the Wikipedia article refers to as "the fact that one can have a reason to intend to do something without having a reason to actually do it", and indeed to the old irresistible-force/immovable-object chestnut: for me it turned into a semantic battle between a person trying to perfectly disguise that they're about to act in bad faith and a person trying to perfectly detect that.

On re-visiting the problem today, I find I'm now happy to take just one box and be content that the predictor knows that's what I'll do.

This exactly mirrors my shift from ignosticism to theism. Gosh.

Given that, I find it curious that neither of those links strays from philosophy and mathematics into theology. Compare and contrast:

A deity offers you W, worldly pleasures and H, the possibility of going to heaven. You can choose either H or W+H. However, before the foundation of the world, the deity wrote a book of life listing which people will actually go to heaven. The deity states that the book of life contains everyone who will choose just H, none of the people who will choose W+H. Which do you choose?

That's a massive oversimplification, of course, but it does at least seem to be a better model than Pascal's Wager.

Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast

Nov. 29th, 2016 10:14 am
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
[personal profile] nou promted me to write a post about eggs. (More prompts and questions gratefully recieved!) I'm sure there are much cleverer interpretative spins one could put on that prompt, but I'm just going to use it as an excuse to tell you about my favourite cookbook, and one of the best recipes from that book.

[ profile] sashagoblin gave me a copy of Anjum's Indian Vegetarian Feast for Christmas a few years ago, and since then I think I've given half a dozen copies of it to other people. It's already covered in the splashes and stains that you know mean a recipe book is well loved. It's got a really wide variety of types of food, all with really distinctive flavours and textures and styles. I've not made a single thing from it that wasn't delicious.

One of the first recipes I cooked from it, and probably the one I revisit the most often, is the Goan Egg Balchao. I adjust the recipe slightly, using half as many tomatoes again as suggested, whilst keeping other ingredients constant, but follow the method to the letter. I've sometimes been a bit sceptical about eggs in curries, but it works really well here. The eggs are boiled until the yolks are just starting to set, but still have some gooey softness to them, and the sauce is rich and intense, full of sharp and sweet and umami and just enough heat to bite without overwhelming. It's more time-consuming to make than some very simple curries, as the sauce has to be reduced and darkened and then diluted and reduced again in order to really bring out the flavours, but if everything comes together well you can get it to the plate in a little under an hour, and is very much worth the wait.

Maintenance window - Thursday Dec 1

Nov. 28th, 2016 03:48 pm
denise: Image: Me, facing away from camera, on top of the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome (Default)
[staff profile] denise posting in [site community profile] dw_maintenance
There will be a maintenance window, with some downtime, on Thursday, December 1, starting at 10AM EST/7AM PST/3PM UTC, for server maintenance and upgrades. To err on the side of caution, we're calling it an 8 hour window (so, until 6PM EST/3PM PST/11PM UTC), although we don't expect that the site will be in maintenance mode for the whole time.

We'll remind you Wednesday night, and again when the site is going into maintenance mode.
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
(This wasn't prompted, but I could really do with some more prompts/questions if I'm going to be successful in writing more here during Advent! Help me out, or I'll think you don't want to hear from me!)

Last weekend I went to EAGxOxford, the largest Effective Altruism conference in Europe to date. I had a really interesting time, learned a lot, changed my mind about things, and came away with a bunch of concrete things on my to-do list, many of which I’ve already actually done or started doing.

Friday afternoon/evening
I got to Oxford a bit too late to get to the only pre-conference session I was interested in, but early enough to have time to kill, so met up with a couple of old acquaintances for coffee, which was really nice, and I think helped shift me into feeling sociable in a less stressful way than jumping straight into networking with strangers. Speaking of which, the first hour or so of the conference was a drinks reception; that definitely was stressful, but I managed to chat to a few people and have enjoyable conversations, although nothing that really stuck in my mind. Afterwards there was an opening talk, with Toby Ord and Will MacAskill giving a fairly high-level introduction to the ideas and the history of the EA movement. Most of this was fairly familiar to me, but Toby gave a really interesting tour through historical ideas that have contributed to or inspired the development of the movement. After this session people decamped to pubs around Oxford, but I had already reached my limit of unstructured-socialising-with-strangers energy, so I called it a night and went to my B&B.

Saturday morning
The morning could have started better, as the shower in my room wouldn’t run hot, but at least I was very much awake by the time I set off! Whilst looking for somewhere to attend Mass on the Sunday I had realised that I was just down the road from St Stephen’s House, and they have a daily house mass, so I went there on my way in. It was a lovely simple service, and brought back fond memories of worshipping and Pusey House, which has a very similar setting.

The first session of the day was the keynote lecture by Owen Cotton-Barratt. There was a moment of “Oh God, everyone’s so young! I’m so old!” but anyway… The lecture was entitled “Prospecting for Gold - Techniques for finding high-value opportunities”. Much like the introduction the previous evening, quite a lot of the material was stuff that I was already familiar with, but it was presented in an engaging way that I think might be helpful for me to think about when I’m trying to share my enthusiasm for EA more widely. There were a couple of ideas that were either new to me, or an important reminder of something I’ve not paid enough attention to. The main example of the latter being the need to think about marginal as well as absolute priority when selecting causes, and the former being the application of the principle of comparative advantage across people living in different times, rather than different places, or with different personal talents.
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
Thanks to [personal profile] emperor for this prompt. (More prompts and questions gratefully received here)

I think there are at least three distinct reasons people get grumpy about secular Christmas during Advent, and teasing them apart is the first step in answering the question. Firstly there’s the sense that there is a right and a wrong way to do Christmas, and people celebrating it now are doing it Wrong™, which is even more irritating in real life than on the internet. Secondly there’s the practical annoyance of being invited to lots of parties with delicious foods and drinks that you’ve given up as part of your Advent fast, and finally there’s the emotional disconnect of being surrounded by people celebrating and feasting at a time when you’re observing a penitential season.

The first is probably the easiest to address, and is pretty much covered by the specific phrase of “secular Christmas”. I think that as long as you acknowledge that secular Christmas is mostly a separate thing, which just happens to share the same name due to historical accident, it becomes relatively easy to put this irritation to bed.

The practical annoyance can be addressed in one of two ways - either by adopting Advent disciplines which don’t tend to have much impact on parties, or by viewing the challenge of forgoing elements of the celebrations as an important part of the fast. I think that avoiding this annoyance is not a good reason to choose other disciplines, and that some prayerful self-examination into ones motivation is a good idea, but I personally find that giving up Facebook is a far more powerful way of turning myself towards God than fasting from particular foods and drinks would be in any case (and also doesn’t have the same risks of poking the sleeping monster.)

The emotional disconnect is probably the least tractable, and I’m not sure that I have any good answers apart from prayer, but I’d be interested to hear suggestions from anyone else who’s wrestled with this.

Advent writing prompts?

Nov. 26th, 2016 04:42 pm
wildeabandon: photo of me with wavy hair and gold lipstick (Default)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
As is at least somewhat traditional around these parts, I'm going to be trying to write more dreamjournal over Advent, and although I've got a couple of posts planned already, questions and writing prompts would be very welcome.