Tikal

Feb. 19th, 2019 07:39
chickenfeet: (bull)
[personal profile] chickenfeet
 Sunday we went to Tikal.  This is a massively important Mayan site over the border in Guatemala.  The arrangements included being driven to the border and shepherded through immigration to meet a guide on the Guatemalan side.  There's a border dispute between Belize and Guatemala so there's about 200m of no man's land (overseen by the OAS) between the border posts.  It was all a bit weird and reminiscent of Checkpoint Charlie.

Tikal is amazing.  It's not even been completely excavated but there are five major step pyramids plus seven pairs of minor ones, an astronomical observatory, a living complex for the elite, a necropolis, several ball courts and more.  The lesser structures occupied by the middle classes have not even been excavated,  The scale can only really be understood from the top of one of the pyramids or the observatory.  It's huge and most of it is still buried in the jungle.  The population may have been as high as 200,000 at its peak.

Seeing it involves a lot of walking and even more step climbing.  Expect very sore muscles unless you are super fit.  "Experts" suggest one needs three days to fully explore the site but one can see a lot in a packed half day.  Of course it's only one of many major Mayan sites (albeit a very important one) that's been discovered.  Corocal and Chichen Itza are on a similar scale and nobody really knows what may be hidden in the jungles of southern Belize or the more remote parts of the Guatemalan highlands.

And there were coatis; Central America's trash pandas.

Our tour deal included a meal on the way back.  Definitely gringo food!  The tamales we had for breakfast were much better.

Click link for photos.

www.flickr.com/photos/chickenfeet1/sets/72157706795936345

Days 1 and 2 in Belize

Feb. 19th, 2019 07:15
chickenfeet: (Default)
[personal profile] chickenfeet
 I think our plane arrived just after about five others.  The line up for immigration was out of the terminal building onto the tarmac and it was hot.  It took maybe an hour to clear immigration.  Our prearranged driver was there and took us to the zoo on the way to San Ignacio.  It;s a great little zoo with many kinds of wild cat; puma, jaguar and smaller ones, plus coatis, crocodiles, monkeys and more.  We had our first meal of rice and beans with chicken; the Kriol staple dish.

Untitled

Our hotel was pleasant.  It was about 15 minutes walk from the town centre (San Ignacio is the district capital and the second largest town in Belize).  It was clean, had AC, the plumbing worked and there was wi-fi.  And dogs.  And a cat.  We checked out the town centre and bought tacos from a street stall.  Street food is cheap in Belize.  It's about the only cheap way to eat.  The town itself is neat and tidy for the most part with a bunch of Chinese owned stores and plenty of restaurants and bars.  There's a sort of mini "Khao San Road" with hostels and tour oprators and bars and stuff but it's pretty low key.  Bought some of the local (Belikin) beers.  The stout is much better than the the "beer" and the lager is best not mentioned.

The next day was Saturday, market day, so we headed in to town for breakfast.  The market has a bit of everything; clothing, electrical goods, produce, prepared food etc.  We had a pleasant breakfast of tamales and pupusas.  I learned a few things at this point.  Everything tortilla based is made straight from dough spread on the comale.  No tortilla presses here and anyway the dough is much too sticky.  One is expected to pimp up the food with pickled cabbage and hot sauce.  Things like tacos and burritos are kind of skinny by TexMex standards so this really is necessary.  The food stands are all run by women from the countryside (probably Mayan) who don't speak any English.  Their kids do though and each stand has a bright eyed kid who deals with the gringos and tots up the bill.

We spent most of the morning at the local Mayan site of Cahal Pech.  This isn't one of the great city sites.  Likely it was the centre of power for a minor local ruler/landowner so sort of the equivalent of a castle in medieval England.  It's not a fortified site though.  There are a couple of step pyramid temples, living quarters and a ball court.  It's a good way to get a sense of the componentry of Mayan architecture.  Obligatory Cancon; part of the excavation was done by Trent University.Untitled

Lunch was back at the market.  The lemur had a quesadilla while I tried the caldo; a veggie filled broth with some beef in it.  I chickened out of the calf's foot version.  Pimped up with hot sauce and orange juice it was pretty good.  We pretty much slothed the rest of the day!

King Arthur Dough Whisk

Feb. 19th, 2019 12:00
[syndicated profile] cooltools_feed

Posted by Oliver Hulland

I try to bake by hand as much by hand as possible because it’s a nice contrast to working in front of a computer every day. But one part of baking I never used to enjoy was the mixing of the dough. At first, it gets all gummed up on the spoon or spatula. Then, once the dough comes together, it doesn’t seem as if you’re mixing the ingredients so much as pushing a big ball around the inside of the bowl.

For a year, I’d seen the dough whisk ($9 for 2) in the King Arthur catalog. I never ordered it because I thought the wire part looked a bit fragile. I finally decided to give one a try, figuring I’d send it back if I didn’t like it. Well, I’m never sending it back.

The whisk’s wire is extremely stiff. I’ve yet to encounter a dough it doesn’t slice through with ease. I don’t know how much thought went into designing the twists of the wire, but it’s amazingly efficient at bringing dough together. When I made a double batch recently, I was worried I might have given the whisk more than it could handle. Nope. Mixing took no more effort than a smaller batch.

Clean-up is a breeze: Only a little bit of dough adheres to the wire, which is easy to dislodge with a wipe of the fingers. After that, it goes into the dishwasher.

So far, I have the large model, but I’m planning to buy the smaller one to use in smaller mixing bowls. I suspect that once I also have the smaller one, I’ll never have to order another, unless it’s for a gift. I’ve seen similar-looking whisks on Amazon for a few dollars less, but I don’t know how well they’re constructed. King Arthur’s whisks have their logo on the wooden handles and feel very, very sturdy.

-- Tom Streeter

[This is a Cool Tools Favorite from 2010]

King Arthur Dough Whisk, 2-pack ($9)

Available from Amazon

Back from Belize

Feb. 19th, 2019 06:59
chickenfeet: (Default)
[personal profile] chickenfeet
 Just back from ten days in Belize.  I'll write up the details of the trip in a series of posts but first overall impressions.  Belize is an odd country in many ways.  It's very small.  One can drive across it in a few hours and the population is only just over 300,000.  For such a small place it's incredibly diverse.  There are seven languages spoken; English, Spanish, Kriol, Garifuna and three different Mayan dialects.  Maybe one should add Plattdeutsch as there are a non trivial number of Mennonites and at least one Chinese dialect as the retail sector is entirely Chinese dominated.  It now has a pretty decent universal education system so all the kids and young people speak English but that's by no means true of their parents.  Everybody seems to get on though and racism didn't appear to be a problem.  At least that's how it looks to an outsider.

It wears its history as a former British colony lightly.  It's the only former British colony in the region where they don't play cricket!  The police wear fatigues and carry automatic weapons.  In some ways it feels very central American but at least there have been no massacres of native people in modern times unlike neighbouring Guatemala and Mexico.  That said, there are no specific rights enshrined in law for indigenous land rights or languages.

It's an interesting place to vacation.  The country is definitely set up for tourism.  They have made smart decisions to prioritise environmental and cultural protection over exploitative industries which means that there are lots of well preserved archaeological sites, jungle preserves etc.  They pay for this by making tourists pay for it.  Fair enough but it makes it an expensive vacation destination.  It's possible to cut corners but, in general, one is spending a closer to first world rates than one would in, say, Mexico or Thailand.

There are Mayan remains everywhere.  It's estimated that the population of what is now Belize was three to six times what it is today at the peak of the Mayan era.  The jungle reclaimed everything and only a minute fraction has been excavated or even mapped.

Write what you know?

Feb. 19th, 2019 11:56
notasupervillain: Cat at computer (Default)
[personal profile] notasupervillain
I'm considering.

Despite being an adult - by some standards, an Old - I basically only know one aspect of the world, which is academe. I know it really well. But that's more or less it.

I could take my story, tear out the guts and re-write it. No politics besides student movements. No industry besides the industry partners. When you're a grad student, one data point feels like life or death some days. And your supervisor is closer than your family.

I don't want to. But I'm starting to feel like I have to, which is the only reason I write at all.
rydra_wong: stick figure on an indoor climbing wall -- base image taken from the webcomic xkcd (climbing -- xkcd)
[personal profile] rydra_wong in [community profile] disobey_gravity
This is utterly wonderful:



Including: Mission Impossible, Point Break, Star Trek V, Vertical Limit and Cliffhanger.

He's having SO MUCH FUN: "Oh, this is one of the worst scenes in all of Hollywood climbing. Let's turn the volume up."

(Content note: contains "spastically" used in a kind of derogatory way but when describing spasming movement, which is ... not entirely inaccurate? Anyway.)

(no subject)

Feb. 19th, 2019 11:43
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
Yesterday I ended up being awake more than 24 hours, which was not ideal.

I read a Supernatural / Dresden Files fic that made me not want to watch Supernatural. It seems mean? But the fic was long and did a bunch of stuff and kind of saved the world by being kind, so, that was good.

Today I am Tired and have no idea where my hypothetical sleep schedule ought to be.
But it is Cleaner Day so I am definitely awake for the next couple of hours.

I ran the laundry but had to run the rinse cycle like three extra times before it stopped being full of bubbles. Not awesome, should figure that out at some point. Still, it's drying now, so that's okay.

I have done a lot of coliseum fighting on the Flight Rising game while I was listening to audios.
I got so much dragon food.
But I turned much of it into meat and have a feeling I needed some of that to unlock Hibernation slots. I've unlocked a bunch but there's so many to do. But dragons also need meat so it's not like it's wasted, just I'm sitting here fighting the same enemies a lot a lot a lot.
... this is not the way to have the most fun in a day.

I have moved a lot of my Iron Man dragons into Hibernation so now there's a ton of space in my lair to do things that are not just crimson crimson gold dragons. But I also feel like there needs to be more CCG in more patterns? It is possible to have dragons that are not Circuit, for instance. So that'll be exciting.

... I need to find more to do with my day.



Still, pretty okay day, really.
seperis: (Default)
[personal profile] seperis
In honor of only two days of work this week as Holiday!Monday and Escapade Starts Thursday, I've been contemplating the more esoteric parts of my career, or more specifically, my least favorite part.

For those who don't know, I'm a Quality Control/Quality Analyst; my formal title is System Analyst IV, my job description is program testing, primarily, UAT, aka 'User Acceptance Testing' but have done and will do everything from unit testing to testing live in production literally during and after deployment. UAT is the last line of defense before a program is released in production, and our job is to break it with only the tools and general knowledge available to the average user of this program aka Everyman.

And when I say 'the program', that refers not just to 'one single program' but 'an entire program ecosystem that all work together to do shit'. We call the latter Integration Testing, which combines 'so breathtakingly boring even death avoids you when you have to do it' with 'astronomically high stakes'. For System Integration is literally repeating all your tests on those same damn programs (sometimes you're on your fifth repetition and resent key parts of the alphabet) but now while all programs are connected to each other.

In general, if there are problems, they're tiny; earlier testing of the individual parts of a program and then the program itself should have and generally does catch everything with a realistic chance of happening, quite a bit that realistically won't but possibly could, and some that is technically impossible but when you were on repetition three of the same set of ten to twenty goddamn tests, dev was naturally the target best suited to share your suffering. At that point, they were so goddamn tired of seeing your name on defects they didn't care if it was possible this situation would ever occur, they'd code as if it would happen every day just to avoid how rejection at end of business day inevitably meant that the first thing they'd see in their inbox the next morning would be a gratingly cheerful email that included an essay (and references) on why the defect was not only very possible but could cause the apocalypse if not fixed like right now please, sometimes with malice aforethought in thirteen point Comic Sans.

But I digress.

stress is both a constant and a variable )

...yes, I am doing integration testing this week. How'd you guess?

River Song season 5

Feb. 19th, 2019 11:27
beccaelizabeth: my Watcher tattoo in blue, plus Be in red Buffy style font (Default)
[personal profile] beccaelizabeth
I listened to all four adventures with The Master.
Read more... )


I like listening to River be clever and figure things out and ideally run around saving the Doctor while falling in love again again again. This set only did some of that.


But if you want to listen to the Master maybe it is more interesting? Like if it was a box set called The Master I'd listen to it a different way. Don't know though, don't know what I'd want out of that.



The Bekdel Test was good, Animal Instinct had a bunch of interesting, The Lifeboat and the Deathboat was interesting but not in how it used the Master unless you really want to hear how the TV movie connects up to anything after, and Concealed Weapon I liked by far the least, but since it was the last in the set that has made me more frowning about all of them. Oh well.
Shall definitely relisten to Missy again some time.
Don't know about the rest.

Stream of consciousness blogging

Feb. 19th, 2019 11:08
miss_s_b: Peter Falk as Columbo saying "just one more thing" (Fangirling: Columbo)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
- Linkspammer still broken, sorry about that.
- I kind of feel like I want to blog more than I have for ages, but I'm not really clear what about. It's like an itch. This is an attempt at scratching it. It's not really working. Maybe I ought to do another Liberalism 101 post.
- I've got to go to exercise class in a bit and I'm so wiped out after emotional roller coaster yesterday* and adrenaline rush of dentist terror** this morning that I really don't want to. I know it'll do me good though.
- Daughter is playing lots of Tetris99 since it came out and the music is properly embedding in my head.



* my brain decided that yesterday was a great time to press a whole bunch of self destruct buttons. Happily some of them didn't work.
** I really really hate going to the dentist. My actual dentist is lovely, but that doesn't, sadly, stop the soul-wrenching terror.
brithistorian: (Default)
[personal profile] brithistorian
This is one of those times when I get to unironically say "I love living in the future!"  I love that this song was just released an hour ago on the other side of the world, yet I'm able to listen to it and share it with you.  I hope you enjoy it.



Expect to hear more from Loona in the future - they're monster rookies who seem to have hit the ground running and only gone upward from there.

QotD

Feb. 19th, 2019 05:24
eftychia: Me in kilt and poofy shirt, facing away, playing acoustic guitar behind head (cyhmn)
[personal profile] eftychia

"One reason why Opportunity and Spirit were so loved - the unrestricted online posting of all their images made peopl
e feel they were part of the mission. I really hope the @ExoMarsPanCam team follow the same path and share their images freely so we can all feel the same way."
-- mars_stu (@mars_stu), 2019-02-14

"I always said the best part of MER wasn't driving my space robot around, it was that I got to take the entire planet along in the back seat. Sharing the images freely is what did that. Future missions would do well to heed this lesson." -- Scott Maxwell (@marsroverdriver), 2019-02-14

Ten years!

Feb. 19th, 2019 10:29
wildeabandon: me kissing my beloved boy (pretty boys kissing)
[personal profile] wildeabandon
This Saturday was the tenth anniversary of me asking [personal profile] obandsoller to be my "It's Complicated" on Facebook. Ten years! There's a part of me that can't quite believe anyone could put up with me for that long, but when I'm not being self-deprecating, I know that actually we're really good together, and that both of us have done the work to make that happen. There are many things I love about him - how thoughtful and observant he is, the way he appreciates art and words and games and brings things out of them that I'd never notice, his engagement with the world and his passion for justice, his playfulness, his stylishness... I could go on.

But alongside that, there's a lot I really love about the relationship, which is a slightly different thing. I love how safe and secure it makes me feel - the absolute bone deep certainty that he will always be on my side, helping me up when I screw up, and cheering me on when I try to do difficult things. I love how affectionate we are, constantly cuddling and nibbling and reaching out and squeezing each others hands. I love that we like each other very much, and that we tell each other, and why. I love that we do little things for one another - he rubs my neck and shoulders when they're tense, and I bring him tea in the mornings. I love that even when we argue, which doesn't happen all that often, we both try really hard to do so constructively even when we're feeling frustrated, and that we continue to affirm our affection even as we argue. We are both lucky to have such a wonderful partnership, but it isn't just luck, and I think we can both be justly proud of what we've built together.

We celebrated our anniversary with a romantic meal at home - much like the weekend we first got together.

Photos of food and us looking adorable behind the cut )

Labour and anti-Semitism

Feb. 19th, 2019 09:55
notasupervillain: Cat at computer (Default)
[personal profile] notasupervillain
 I sent an e-mail a few weeks ago politely informing my MP that I would not be voting for him next election because of Corbyn's stance on anti-Semitism. (Yes I know that I should call instead of emailing, but I should do a lot of things.) The lateness of the response didn't bother me. His staffers are pretty busy right now, I'm guessing.

I got an answer today. Curiously, the day after 7 MPs split from the party, with anti-Semitism as one of their reasons to leave. It was probably a form response, but it was long - probably a full page. Which I chose to take as a good sign. If someone's gone to the trouble of drafting a form letter, it means I'm not the only person emailing about this.

One can hope, anyway.

I'm sending a response saying that I hope my MP quits the party. He won't - he's way too deep with the party apparatus - but I can go down as a tick mark on a spreadsheet somewhere.

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