webcowgirl: (Christmas tree)
I am having a very nice Christmas, although I have this creeping feeling of DOOM that everything will go wrong suddenly kind of nibbling around the edge of my consciousness. [livejournal.com profile] wechsler is here with his brother Will and we've all been having a lovely time except that last night at least two of us were suffering from A Bit Too Much Duck. Anyway, we all played lots of games last night, Alhambra and Guillotine and Through the Desert, and as you might guess it was my idea of an ideal Christmas eve (just needed some American Christmas cookies to be perfect). The dinner I made was a hit, pretty impressive considering the key "I don't know what to do with this" item was prepared in an utterly made up way - the parboiling them turned them into near-mush, so I put them in a pan in a shape loosely approximating their normal one, melted some "sweet chile sauce" with some honey, poured that over the parsnips then zested some lemon peel on top and put in in the oven. Half an hour later: voila, something entire edible, which Will said were "the best parsnips I've ever eaten." He may have been feeding my ego but I liked it anyway. For dessert, we had baked apples stuffed with raisins and brown sugar, a recipe I've been carrying around with me since I lived on 13th street back in Tempe - it's actually from my neighbors at 70, written in their handwriting on yellow lined notebook paper. Ah, memories.

Anyway, here's a Christmas present for all of you, one I think is perfect. Horseshoe crabs!
webcowgirl: (snow)
I have actually been going like mad for a week - party Saturday, movie Sunday, hard hard work Monday and Tuesday (with a trip to Anansi's Tales at Southwark Playhouse and On the Twentieth Century at the Union Theatre afterwards, even though I was nearly falling over from exhaustion), chillax at home with David Attenborough and [livejournal.com profile] wechsler after the work lunch on Wednesday (Private Life of Plants molto bene), Christmas concert yesterday, and incredibly bad Original Nutcracker with Exedore tonight. I am now three behind on the number of reviews I have to write, or could write. The one show I have written up is On the Twentieth Century, which was the best of the plays but possibly not as good as the choral concert, which had music from Britten and Gorecki and nearly made me cry probably twice. I blame this on the lack of sleep this week and physical exhaustion but you all gotta know the truth, emotions run high in the holidays. Speaking of which I wanted to share this post from [livejournal.com profile] mr_sadhead that I think bears rebroadcasting:

This holiday season is rucking up a lot of ugly feelings in people it seems like. A lot of the old self-hatreds and memories of mistreatments are coming back out. I'm not immune to it. People, don't let the whispering evil voices get to you this time. You are good, you are worthy, the past is dead, you can allow yourself to be happy.

Back to me: if you feel like getting down with some tears trickling down your snow covered cheeks, let it be for something beautiful, like the following, Gorecki Symphony No. 3:



Alternately take yourself on a walking tour of the snowy streets of the city of London and find the locations of Susan Philipsz's "Surround Me" sound installations. She set out to "convey a poignant sense of absence and loss in the contemporary City of London" - and based on the four I've seen, she succeeded. The exhibit is only up on weekends and there are only three more weekends when you can experience it. Go, I say, go. I will be out tomorrow with all of my layers on because I love beautiful sad things.
webcowgirl: (Roxie)
I had a teeny bit of something intelligent to say but I slept so poorly the last three hours I don't remember what it was. Tonight I'm off to [livejournal.com profile] booklectic's to make dinner. Last time I was there she gave me an earworm, see below:



Maybe I'll get a new one tonight.

I notice I haven't been using my bad sleep icon much. That's good news, I think.

[livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy came by and dropped off a pile of nice things from America, including tea and a Group of Seven calendar and - most exciting - new gloves. I'll be wearing them in minutes.

In final news, I finished Zero History - who wants to read it next?

Oh yeah. The solstice. Anyone else counting the days?
webcowgirl: (Default)
At page 614 of Vanity Fair. I was too busy to read much today, though. First thing I did was spend some time writing up last night's trip to see Shunkin at the Barbican. Mental abuse, puppet sex, codependence, self-disfigurement-it was essentially perfect and I wound up not feeling so resentful about the extravagantly priced tickets.

Review done, I headed out the door at noon and met up with [livejournal.com profile] wechsler at the Market Coffee Shop in Spitalfields for lunch; then we wandered around a bit killing time before our scheduled tea time at the Teasmith shop. We were given about six kinds of tea paired with various sweets - it's all a bit of a blur though I remember Pi Lo Chun and whisked Matcha among the options.

After this we found ourselves with an hour on our hands and I was able to convince W to go in search of a few of the locations of Surround Me, a multi-sited art installation consisting of recordings of 17th century songs projected in 20th century locations, done in such a way to create the strange feeling of standing put while time moves backwards around you. I'd found one a few weeks back on my ill-fated trip to meet [livejournal.com profile] shadowdaddy for a movie at the Barbican: as it turns out, they are only "on" during the weekend. So it was a Saturday and we were in the city, so off W and I went off to Tokenhouse Yard, Change Alley, and then the northern underside of London Bridge to soak up some intense atmosphere. It was really very great, even though it was a bit disconcerting that most of the music was on a 10 minute loop, with a great deal of that being silence; but to be honest it made for a better effect having to wait and having all of that lack of noise surrounding it. I have two left to have heard the set; no real reason not to go tomorrow, I think, since they are only on during the weekends. I did a video recording at two of the spots:



Done, we headed to Gipsy Hill and [livejournal.com profile] lolliepopp's house, where we spent the next four hours eating, drinking, and playing Rock Band. It was a good night, really, and the day had a lot of good bits in it, including a very happy moment while I was watching the sun set over the river and hearing the echoes of John Dowland floating up to the bridge.
webcowgirl: (GirlCatStars)


Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, "Do You Wanna Touch." Listened to this for about three hours straight after buying the 45.
webcowgirl: (Tiara)
After another less than ideal night's sleep (seriously, I woke up 3 times between 6 and 7 AM), I was off to the giant roofed football field that is the Rosen Center for Day 4 of StarEast.

The day got off to a great start with a really fun talk by James Bach called "The Buccaneer Tester." While I was afraid it was going to be yet more claptrap about his particular flavor of exploratory testing, instead it was about how to make a name for yourself in the testing industry. It featured this great video he made from The Towering Inferno showing how a tester approaches disasters.

After a break Matt Heusser started in on "2010 A Test Odyssey: Building a high performance, distributed team," which I thought was going to be tips for working with teams in a variety of different locations but which just didn't hit the issues I was concerned about and talked more about ... I don't know, really, I took almost no notes. I did, however, get kinda weepy reading a post by [livejournal.com profile] the_wrong_hands that made me feel like I was leading a really unconnected life, and I was feeling extra sensitive because one of the conference organizers (whom I'd dealt with two years previously) had given me the massive cold shoulder at the end of the first talk and made me feel like a buffoon - and like I was wasting my time thinking I was ever going to make a name for myself in this industry.

After this I spent some time puttering around the wifi zone, where I actually met a guy from England who might know people who would be a good fit for the open test management position at my company. I also bought two books, one on test case design, the other on reporting. The book stall was way too expensive - about 20% more than Amazon - and I later wound up wishing I'd just ordered them and had them mailed.

Then I went to a last minute talk called "Testing Tips from the Great Detectives." I thought it would be fun and light, and it was, only then I realized I could be down the hall at a talk by Bob Galen called "Creating Crucial Test Conversations," so I ducked out the door and immediately got some great tips on selling what QA is doing to the rest of the organization. I talked to him later and he said he'd mail me a four hour version of the presentation, which I will do as the activities were really great and I think I could share it with a lot of people at Il Postino, not just my employees.

Finally it was time for lunch. I went back to the table I'd been at before, and, lo, the same dude I've been sitting next to for lunch for the last three days was there, and we had a good laugh about my night being hit up by the truck driver who couldn't take no for an answer. But I didn't get to talk to Lisa Crispin about my book ideas, which is sad as I would really like to write a test book but could use some guidance.

Then it was back to the main room and to Lee Copelands "Quantifying the Value of Testing." This was another good talk about selling QA, only his point was that if you don't know what people need to prove (or disprove) in the first place, you'll get caught up in creating all sorts of metrics that don't really matter. Ask what the question is first, then figure out how to measure it. He had lots of other good ideas, too, which I'll research more when I'm back at home and can sit down with his presentation at my leisure.

During this talk a guy sat down in front of me who'd responded to a tweet I'd sent earlier with the message, "You should introduce yourself!" (I recognized him because Lisa Crispin had tweeted a picture of him on a scooter jetting around the conference room). I said hi, and we then got into a chat (while he sat at the book signing table) about what was going on at my company and how I might handle it. I don't feel like we came up with any good answers, but I do feel that by articulating what I was thinking of doing, I got a better handle of what my actual plan was, and also that it seemed ... doable! I also think I scared him about the work environment I was dealing with. He liked how I was managing my employees, though. I think how much I like them really shows through.

This conversation carried us all the way through the next to last slot, and I decided against going to the final keynote speech, about how crowdsourcing was used to test Mozilla. I was just feeling burnt out and tired out, and though I tweeted and said I was going to the beach, in fact, I went to the hotel and ... got the treat of my day, a phone call from [livejournal.com profile] wechsler. We talked for about half an hour, me about the conference, him about everything else that had been going on in his life. Then I crashed.

After I got up, I tried to go for a swim in the hotel pool, but it was actually too cold (!), so I just read by the pool for a bit (10 minutes max) and went back inside. Then it was off to a Venezuelan restaurant [livejournal.com profile] lastwordy_mcgee's mom had recommended to me - and now back here, where I've packed up (I'm checking out of here tomorrow and moving to a schmancier hotel down the road for the last four nights) and am ready to call it a night. I'll leave you with an Anime version of "Gay or European."
webcowgirl: (Default)
Boy, have I been busy. Friday night was a fun dinner with [livejournal.com profile] dreamsewing, at which we caught up on each others' news and discussed fun future get togethers, all while I slowly worked my way through rather a lot of sake. Saturday was a Shakespeare matinee and an underwhelming Victorian fun fair with a tunnel trip; today was a trip to Eltham Castle, an art-deco fantasyland that reminded me of Bright Young Things, just people with too damned much money and no real direction in their lives. Yeah, they traveled all over the place, they collected art, they had fabulous dinner parties (with fireworks - I'm inspired!) - but it all just seemed rather weird to me. I mean, I guess there could be a life where your next dinner party and planning the spring garden was all you had to do, but it seemed really odd to me, like some bit of their brain was missing. Ah well, there's much to be said for a life that lets you have two dogs, a lemur AND a parrot. And the bathroom with the gold mosaic and marble sculpture of Psyche was alright, too. I took lots of pictures, mostly of the flowers, as we weren't allowed to take any pictures in the actual house itself. (They're on Facebook if you're interested.)

Then back to London, grocery shopping, a really early dinner, and both Guys and Dolls (not all of it, though, it's a long movie) and a bit of David Attenborough to cool down pre-bed. I found this video from the movie: I'm sure this song is representing someone's fantasy, but it's really just very odd.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
Q: Seven guests come over. Two bottles of wine are opened; one is left in the bottle and the other is poured into a pitcher. There is some fancy lemonade and in the fridge some weak-assed orange juice. Dinner consists of chicken fried steaks for nine, a roasted squash, souffle for six, mashed potatoes for six, gravy for eight, cornbread, biscuits, mashed potatoes, and kale (with bacon). What do you do the next day?

A: Throw out the cornbread, eat the leftover steak and gravy and biscuits for breakfast, heat up the quiche for dinner, and mix the leftover wine (in the pitcher) with the cheap assed orange juice and drink that with. Oh, and wash dishes for two hours. Any food remaining can be taken to work on Monday. You won't need lunch.

Secret fact: of course you have to use the wine in the pitcher, because the other wine was rioja, and it is all gone, along with the fancy lemonade.

Was somehow up at 1:30 AM watching YouTube last night. Found a Lene Lovich song I'd never heard before. Damned cool.



PS: this is the closest I'm getting to Thanksgiving this year.
webcowgirl: (Jasper Morello)
I don't know, what if the Matrix were filmed in the Silent Film era?



I can't believe I'm still full from last night! And I need more sleep. Well, that at least I can believe.
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
I made a yummy cobbler tonight (inspired by [livejournal.com profile] djm saying he was going to pick blackberries and then make a pie with them):


The recipe is from the Morning Grange cookbook my grandma gave me years ago. It was actually a bit hard to find one that used fresh fruit and didn't use self-rising flour. (I also rejected the one that called for a box of butter brickle cake mix, which they certainly don't have in England and which I doubt is even made in the US anymore.) I used a mix of 2/3 apricots and 1/3 peaches.

Latona Hedrick's Quick Cobbler
1 c flour
3/4 c milk
1/2 tsp vanilla (note the recipe doesn't say what to do with it)
1 pound can of cherries, peaches, or pineapple, drained (her note says "I usually use more fruit if I use raw fruit." I also added a splash of cointreau as the apricots I used were dry.)
1 c sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick oleo (I used far less than this, probably a third of a cup)

Dot bottom of baking dish with slices of oleo and melt. Mix four, sugar and baking powder; add milk (I also added vanilla). Pour over batter in baking dish. Spoon drained fruit over mixture, making sure there is enough room for batter to bubble through fruit.

Here's my interpretation of enough room: Latona Hedrick's quick cobbler (with apricots and peaches), b... on Twitpic

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipping cream. (This is very good made with fresh peaches.)

And it was good! The cobbler looks done now! It's still bubbling so I'll let i... on Twitpic We didn't even add ice cream.

My day was actually far busier than I should have let myself be, since I'm still sick ... I went to London Bridge to meet my friend Cate and help her organize her paperwork for her visa renewal (since she basically helped coach me into passing the interview for my new job, I most certainly owe here), then trekked up to Walthamstow for a visit with [livejournal.com profile] dreamsewing, who showed me around her new digs and helped me do some strategizing about how to fix an awkward social situation I find myself in. We also had lunch at an adorable restaurant called Manzes which is basically a Victorian pie and mash shop that's been trapped in a bottle on Walthamstow high street for over a hundred years. (Good pie, too.)

I had canceled my evening plans as soon as I got out of the train at London Bridge and realized I'd basically burned through my energy for the day simply by walking to the tube stop; what, really, was I thinking? I swear, I do this thing where I keep pushing myself through my exhaustion over and over again and I'm convinced it's why my damned colds linger so long. Thank God I don't have to go to work this week! Anyway, J and I are both sick and were happy to stay home tonight, him cooking and me somehow washing the dishes despite an overwhelming urge to lie on the sofa. Going out for exercise is a good plan but at this rate it's not going to be happening until next week rolls around.

Oh, and I finished The Ladies of Grace Adieu and other short stories and totally loved it. But now ... I MUST go to bed.
webcowgirl: (Default)
This video, a sort of gay response to the anti-gay videos/propaganda out right now, is really great. Plus it's full of hot people being sassy and dancing! Thanks to [livejournal.com profile] lastwordy_mcgee for this one!



Also, just finished playing one on one Agricola, which I won. :-) And I'm full of wine. A good evening!
webcowgirl: (Default)
Last night I heard a song that was obviously old and of the 60s style, but which I had never heard before, despite listening to "oldies radio" for years and years ...



"He Hit Me (And It Felt Like a Kiss)." I guess it wasn't even very popular when it came out. Kind of a relief, really.

When it comes to fragile sad sixties music, I much prefer Aphrodite's Child's song "Rain and Tears" song. The video is pretty funny, but the song is great.

webcowgirl: (Default)
It's only a few seconds long ... but for some reason I'm having a really hard time getting YouTube to upload stuff!

webcowgirl: (E-love)
I am now sitting here laughing so hard I'm wheezing and the tears are rolling down my eyes.

Yes, on YouTube there is a whole subgenre devoted to animals farting or reacting to farts.

This one in particular, of a cat, has made me hurt a bit.

Maybe we should have stuck to dialup, you know?
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
I decided about a year ago that my way to fame and fortune was going to be becoming a YouTube celebrity. But what, really, do I have to offer? I thought about it and realized I have sharable cooking expertise: in particular, I know how to cook Tex Mex. Care to learn how to fry a taco shell? Watch this video.



Next in the series: rolling enchiladas, making taco meat and making country-style gravy.
webcowgirl: (Default)
This one is for [livejournal.com profile] poh.



But there I was ... 16 years old and watching MTV ... some program about New Wave or New Romantics in England, with stories about Kings Road and "Jordan" and Malcolm McClaren, the master behind it all ...
webcowgirl: (HotTomato)
I is sitting home, I is not alone.

I is full of fud, I is feeling gud!

The things out there to do, fiddle-de, fiddle-foo!

*insert mod ska dancing*



note: tacos and tequila = ace. also homemade pico de gallo.
webcowgirl: (Default)
So, in case you were wondering what Eurovision is (I wasn't, particularly), I'd like to give you the opportunity to see the best performance of the night. I'm sure, if you're American, every now and then you wonder about some of the stuff that becomes popular over here in England (such as the person they call "Kylie" here, but whom, as an American, I refer to as, "Who?"), although of course what with brilliant musicians such as Amy Winehouse there's not much to be said in general. This, however, is a whole different school - the school of "Europop." (In my mind it's what would happen if Adam and the Ants were going nowadays, something which I consider a very tasty idea.)


Musically speaking, I enjoyed best the contestant from Armenia (good voice, knows how to work her skirt) - but those Latvians, they were playing to the back of the stadium.
webcowgirl: (Kayak)
I am clearly in need of a manatee icon. I wonder if this new fascination will go away any time soon?

Oh yes, and this is my first video on YouTube! I feel like I have crossed a line ... though apparently it's still processing so it may be a bit before it actually works.

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