Thursday, July 31, 2008

Recipe - modified Ramadan food

This tasty thing came about from:

- my possessing a bag of glutinous black rice, and almost no knowledge regarding its use

- a google search for "glutinous black rice"

- and the subsequent retuning of a Ramadan breakfast recipe I found.


150g glutinous black rice
200ml water
200ml whole milk
1 cardamon, ground
1/2 tub chopped mixed peel
~50g sugar (brown/white to taste)
salt to taste

Soak and rinse rice. Put in pan with water and milk. Bring to boil. Add sugar. Simmer, covered, as gently as possible, for >30mins, stirring occasionally. When thickened, add mixed peel and ground cardamon. Salt to taste. Thicken further until desired consistency is achieved.

This is a long way from the Ramadan recipe (which, among other things, called for a 1:1 relationship of rice to sugar), but it makes a delicious rice pudding with more fibre than most. And, it's purple! (This looks especially cute next to a good coffee).

Monday, July 28, 2008

Grasshopper on a cactus

This evening, a rattling sound came from my windowsill. On the 3rd floor.

Somehow, there was a grasshopper stepping carefully over a cactus. What a masochist!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Norwich to Oxford! Camping!

This was fun. A 165 mile trip, spread over 3 days. By bike!

To Norwich, by train, on 13/07/2008. This is an experience in itself; taking a bike on a train is still not an entirely ordinary thing to do, in the UK. Yes, the train companies promise it's fully acceptable, on paper, and to the government ("look, we are green, honest"), but when it comes to actually allowing it... they do, just. But they don't make it easy. One needs to be fairly pushy, and pretty strong.

But, one gets to Norwich, anyway. And there, people live on boats! With campfires, and space for tents - and a relaxed way of life. Perhaps information-poor (no internet), but idyllic, otherwise.

Then, back to Oxford. Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire. Six counties! England changes, when you travel this far. (Fields of spinach become fields of wheat). And, put a ruler on a map, Norwich to Oxford, and you hit Cambridge halfway - so that's what we did. Half a day to get to Mildenhall, camping under a flightpath, another day to Ridgemont (and amazing lunch in Cambridge), then the rest of the way, to MD's home, on Wednesday.

Afterward, we recovered more easily than the bikes did. (Mine had a repair on the Thursday). And with no ill-will towards them!

Idyllic existence is nice, sometimes.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

An incident, spun thus...

When the headline begins "Death Crash Cyclist", the details are usually all too familiar.

A cyclist and another road user meet. Physically. This does not go well for the cyclist. Cue, in approximate temporal order:
  • lurid imagery
  • apportioning of blame,
  • rationalization of the causes,
  • and a promise that lessons will be learned. Often in the form of an undertaking to redesign the road, the junction, or the cycle facility; rarely in the form of a promise to change future behaviour, from all interested parties.
And so we proceed, much as before.

Today, however, the Metro headline was more sour than sanguine. In full:

Death crash cyclist 'mowed down teen'

What does one say to that? A seemingly complex case, reduced to 'Cyclist did bad thing STOP cyclist inhuman, cyclist bad STOP', perhaps with an undertone of 'cycling bad STOP' thrown in too.

From the few facts in the piece, it would seem that both cyclist and teenagers were acting as humans do. Imperfectly. This death seems a terrible mistake - that the cyclist was on the pavement near these people (why?), that he perhaps could not tell they had been drinking, that one of them would step out at the last minute, unaware of the potential danger, and that he could not avoid the collision once that had happened.

But to equate that to 'mowing down' the bystander, to suggest he meant to cause this injury, this harm, this loss, is monstrous. And unbelievable. Ask any long-standing cyclist; when someone steps out in your path and you collide, it hurts. For both of you.

I've done this, colliding with a pedestrian who stepped into the road without looking. We both had only minor injuries - but i wouldn't choose to repeat the experience. No sensible person would; if this cyclist was insensible enough to, he'd be in need of psychological help, not a sentence.

More facts over at the Daily Mail's article, 'Cyclist killed teenage girl on pavement 'after refusing to swerve to avoid her''. For example, that the cyclist was doing 17 - 23mph. And that the teenager had drunk 2 cans of Stella (5.2% ABV).

And a helpful reminder, from the Daily Mail: "It is illegal to cycle on the pavement". These, the last words of an article which makes it clear, witnesses cannot agree where the cyclist was, road or pavement, when the collision occurred.

But no matter, 'Bad cyclist did bad thing STOP' still sells papers. Who reads this, and feels better for having done so?

(Those links, if reading without html -