Today I chaired a conference on Big Data. "Big Data" is one of those slightly amorphous concepts that may be designed to persuade you to buy lots of expensive database software, or it may describe an approach where you handle vast amounts of unstructured data in innovative ways, or it may mean nothing much at all. Or it may mean you should bin all your previous work and rewrite your website in Haskell.
Continue reading “Slapstick”

The Disappearing Spoon

I’ve just finished reading The Disappearing Spoon, a book by Sam Kean about the periodic table. It’s a fun read, including such characters as the radioactive Boy Scout, David Hahn, amusing similes (a rhodium catalyst interacting with other molecules "like two obese animals trying to have sex") and the strangeness of things like the Bose-Einstein Condensate (which I can’t stop referring to as the Bose-Eisenstein Condensate, which involves great stereo headphones being cooled to absolute zero by a Russian film director).
Continue reading “The Disappearing Spoon”

Eight months in

My calves were still sore this morning; something of a record, as usually I only suffer for two days after any fierce bout of running. I did 4 km easily and got home just as Felicity was waking up to the eighth month anniversary of being born.

I’d like to say we did something special to commemorate this, like bake her a cake with two-thirds of a candle sticking out of it, but in truth it was a day much like any other: Felicity got fed, I scrambled off to work, and then my wife was left to tend to the child all day.

Because it was pay day today, we had money for groceries, so she went down to the docks, and later on I received this photograph:

Continue reading “Eight months in”

Wholewheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

For my first post I thought a nice cookie recipe would be the right way to go.

What is left 2 days later.
What is left 2 days later.

My husband is British and he has given me the impression that all Brits require dessert after every lunch and dinner for a meal to be complete. Now I have been remiss in providing my husband with the desserts he requires after every meal. So, this past Sunday evening I hunkered down and made some cookies. I wanted to make something with some redeeming healthy aspect so the Bob’s Red Mill WOW Chocolate Chip Cookies it was going to be.

I have changed a few small things in the recipe. In the last 8 months of baking since our little one has been born I have taken a liking to chopping up nice dark chocolate bars instead of using chocolate chips. I usually get  richer deeper flavour in the baking. So that is the first change I made. The second change to Bob’s recipe is that I used unsweetened coconut flakes instead of walnuts. I like a little nut every now and then but my husband is a bit peculiar. He does not like nuts…no, no, no that is too cut and dry.

Let me try again. He likes peanuts at 40,000 feet. Yes, peanuts only on airplanes or so he will tell you. I have seen him eating a furtive package of salt and pepper peanuts at ground level!  He will also dabble in a cashew or two at ground level. As I had no cashews or salt and pepper peanuts which would have been down right odd,  coconut was the substitute.

Now I have a small pet peeve about recipe yields. Why do american recipes grossly under estimate the amount that will be made. I followed the recipe quite closely and the stated 2 dozen cookie outcome was  not what I had before me. I had before me almost 4 dozen cookies! That is a 100% more then what was promised. Score for my husband! I know what you are thinking.  Did you make them too small? No! I had probably made me them a tad on the big side. Could the Singapore weather some how inflate my returns?  Did I over mix? Was my dough not cold enough? Any thoughts?

Wholewheat Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 4 dozen cookies
  • ½ cup Butter
  • ⅓ cup Oil
  • 1½ cups Sugar
  • ⅔ cup Milk (soy, rice, cow)
  • 2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2½ cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1¼ cups Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ cup Coconut
  • ½ cup Chocolate Chips
  1. Cream together butter, oil, sugar until very well blended.
  2. Add in milk and vanilla and blend.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, oats, baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. When half blended , add in the coconut and chocolate. Mix everything together until just blended, careful not to over mix.
  5. Refrigerate for 20 minutes
  6. Place by the tablespoon on greased or lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350f/175c for about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Makes 4 dozen cookies



A sad Monday

There’s a haze settling over Singapore at the moment, possibly the result of forest fires in Indonesia. It’s not rained properly so far this year, just a desultory shower a couple of weeks ago, and as the grass yellows, the air gets slightly tacky and funny-tasting.

I didn’t do much at the office today; I had some bad news, and that, combined with a few other things, meant that at 10:30 this morning I wasn’t at my desk, I was sat on a bench in Hong Lim Park weeping, and that wasn’t the right state of mind to be making decisions about search engine arbitrage, so then I went home.

Where I discovered that as my wife had gone out with La Serpienta Negra for the day, and I had forgotten my doorkeys, all I could do was sit on my doorstep for two hours, and, via the wifi network that seeps underneath our front door and out into the hallway, make decisions about search engine arbitrage.
Continue reading “A sad Monday”

A musical interlude

Our friend Guy was in town this weekend, having flown over from San Francisco, stopping to retrieve an acquaintance from Hong Kong before flying over to us. We met him last night at a Ukulele Girls gig in the Esplanade Theatre. There are multiple places to see live music there; there’s an open air stage by the water (with a Singaporean reggae band last night), there’s the concert hall, and there’s a space in the upper concourse where every day there’s something free. That evening it was the Ukulele Girls, launching their album, a set of cheery songs that Felicity appeared very taken with. Continue reading “A musical interlude”