Sunday, March 28, 2010

o(`Д´#)o Gyaaaaaa~

...that's an angry face, by the way.

I am become very much distracted from making stuff in these recent days, as the need to repair a particular something has attracted great pertinence. G*ddamn you, Microsoft and all your cronies, for making your system so farking easy to corrupt. *fist in air, shaking and rage*

Fortuitously, I run and work on a Mac. That is the entire reason I can make this post. :D

Unfortuitously,* I am the default IT manager for my entire family. This means that whenever "hey, it's doing something weird" becomes applicable to the PC, I have a job to do.  -_-;

Three tips for anyone running Windows-whatever-version:

1) Keep that firewall up, damnit! This is the 2010's, and firewalls aren't just for uptight techies and CIA agents anymore. If you don't have a firewall or don't trust the strength of the one you have, Comodo and Zone Alarm are both excellent and free of charge. Important: if you use Zone Alarm, be sure to deactivate the debugging feature, else you'll get a snowballing file called tvdebug.log that takes up space on your machine. If you use Comodo, I suggest installing only the firewall portion... there's better anti-virus freeware to be had elsewhere.

2) Don't buy McAfee. I cannot rightly speak for Norton, as I have not used it in years, but word on the forums is that neither are even half as good as some freeware out there. McAfee, besides being a subscription service, is also a major culprit in slowing down the overall performance of a PC -- sloppy programming means it takes up too much of your machine's memory and processing resources. Also, it's not very good at what it's supposed to do; namely, catching bad stuff and keeping it off your computer. Case in point, the family computer that I am now trying to save from a complete flush-and-reinstall-everything scenario has had a subscription to McAfee Security Center (the full line of McAfee's anti-everything + extra firewall and privacy protection) for three years running, and it STILL has been badly screwed by a rootkit, viral rogue, and more trojans than there ever were in the historic Trojan army.

3) Be really, really careful about what you do on peer-to-peer (P2P) networks. If the file size is to small (or too big) to be the thing you intend to download, don't touch it. If the file name reflects exactly the same search terms you put in to find it and nothing more, don't touch it. If you don't recognize the file type, don't touch it. And for torrent files... try to choose from torrents that are rated positively and/or have worthwhile comments on them.

Or alternatively, get a Mac. :3

Anyway, I'll be back when the bugs are gone. ;_;

* "Unfortuitously" is not a proper word. Also, I am not endorsed by any of the products or services mentioned above.

A portion of this post will be echoed on Omnomnomnibus, as that is a more fitting location for the subject. :D

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

St. Pancakes Day

I hope you are all full of corned beef and cabbage and potatoes... and beer, if you're of the proper age. ^w^ Here's something to be full of tomorrow morning: shamrock pancakes. (Not shamrock flavored, mind you, just shaped funny.) 四葉ホットケーキを作りましょう!

green pancake batter and strawberry pieces

Add some green food coloring to your favorite pancake batter. Also, cut up some fruit into smallish pieces. I'm using strawberries, but you can use almost anything. Bananas work really well because they're so sticky.

 (this is figure 2)

Prep your pan with oil/butter (you know how to make pancakes). Then, BEFORE you pour your pancake, put four of those little fruit pieces in the pan, as in figure 2.

*splut* is the Official Sound of Pancake Batter™

Now pour some green batter into the middle of the four fruit pieces. It should spread out between and around the fruit to make a shamrock-ish shape. You can tilt the pan a little to help form the right shape. (If your fruit pieces just get pushed out of the way, try stickier fruit or bigger pieces.)

wonky, but delicious

Ta-daa! Shamrocks, kinda! (I'm not the best at this.) With some poking and prodding, you can get much more appealing shamrocky shapes. Or, you could add more fruit pieces and make a daisy shape with 5 or 6 petals. It all depends upon how creative you can be in the early morning, before breakfast.

If you need a pancake recipe, this one's great:

Strawberry-Vanilla Pancakes
1 cup flour
0.5 cups oats (rolled, instant, steel cut, whatever)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt

1 egg
0.75 cup milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup chopped strawberries
0.25 cup chopped almonds (optional)
In a large bowl, mix together flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl, lightly beat together egg, milk, and vanilla. Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir it all together. Stir in the chopped strawberries (and almonds, if you want them).

...and if you need them:

Basic Pancake-Making Instructions

Oil or butter the bottom of a frying pan or griddle. Heat the pan over medium-high heat, or until the butter/oil starts to sizzle. Stir the batter up a little, and pour some into the pan to form a pool of your desired pancake size. Flip your pancake when bubbles appear in the middle. Repeat until all of your batter has turned into delicious pancakes. If your pancakes start sticking or burning to the pan, wipe it out and oil or butter the bottom again.

...and if you're out of maple:

Almondine Syrup
1 cup white sugar
1.25 cup brown sugar
1 cup water

1 teaspoon almond extract
Combine both sugars and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir and stir and stir, slowly but constantly, for about a minute as the pot heats up. There is too much sugar for the water to dissolve it all, so you’ll have a sugary sludge on the bottom and liquid on the top. Let the mixture heat up to the boiling point, giving it a slow but thorough stir about once a minute.

Once the mixture begins to boil, start stirring constantly. Boil the syrup (still stirring) for roughly 3 minutes, monitoring the temperature so that it doesn’t boil over or burn. The syrup should now be a transparent dark brown liquid.

Remove the saucepan from heat and immediately add the almond extract (it might puff or hiss when it hits the hot syrup; this is a good sign). Stir the pot about 20 times around to be sure everything is mixed together, then cover the syrup with plastic wrap and let it cool to room temperature (takes a few hours). Don’t put it in the fridge yet!

Once your syrup is cool, it’s ready to enjoy. Store extra syrup in an airtight container in the fridge. It might form a sugar crust on the top, but unless it grows something really strange, like fuzz or spots on the surface, it’s still okay to eat.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


It's Pi Day! The best math-and-pastry-based holiday of the year! I'm making this pie right now; will post pictures later if it works out.

UPDATE: Well, it was delicious, but ugly. At least it was low fat. :3

These, meanwhile, are not ugly:



candied lemon

um... cranberry fish... ?

My clever sister makes very tiny things out of polymer clay, including pies. You can see all of her work in detail here: Fushica on Deviant Art.

And for my nerd comrades: the Pi Calc applet by Mikko Tommila.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

もんきり:monkiri, family crest paper cutting

On the topic of kamon, here's something you can do with them. :D

click to download patterns in a PDF file

家紋:かもん、kamon, meaning "house" (家) + "crest" or "coat of arms" (紋)
切り:きり、kiri, meaning "cutting"; from the verb kiru, "to cut"
紋きり:monkiri, which translates roughly to "coat-of-arms cutting"

Monkiri (also called monkiri asobi) uses many folds and and brightly-colored paper to make paper cut-outs of popular family crests. The symmetrical and geometric nature of most kamon makes them perfect subjects for this craft. It's very similar to cutting out paper snowflakes. All you need to get started is some thin colored paper and sharp scissors.

click to visit the page I stole this graphic from: it's got a few patterns

It's popular to decorate blank uchiwa (団扇, paddle fans) and paper lanterns with monkiri.

They're nice on cards and wrapping, too. :3 楽しみして!

* Intending no offense to Canada... In fact, thank you, Canada! Your "eh" has helped me explain the sound of Japanese words ending in "e" in countless conversations. Also, I really like maple sugar candy and hockey. You guys are awesome.