Saturday, December 19, 2009

Experimental Cookery 'Tuesday' #67: Parmesan Chicken Breasts with Crispy Posh Ham

This was an odd one. The original plan was for me to cook them last Friday. However, due to a combination of not being bothered and also suffering a PC meltdown, I instead had pizza. Therefore, the plan was revised to have them on Saturday. This was then scuppered by PC World.

The revised revised plan saw me cook up the chicken on Saturday (to prevent it from going off), but not eating it until Monday. This worked fine, mostly.

The food came out of the pan looking good enough to eat. However, by Monday it had cooled, and really didn't look appetising. However, I duly heated it in the microwave, and gave it a try. And it was okay - not great, but okay. I suspect it would have been better had I eaten it right away, but even then I doubt it would have been as good as some of the other options in this chapted.

Still, I think that's enough to take this chapter to 6-0, despite this being the weakest entry so far.

Next up is "Griddled Lamb Chops with Chunky Salsa", and then Moroccan Lamb with Couscous". I hope to tackle one of these before Christmas and the other in the week after. Once I've done that, I'm going to leave this book behind due to the remaining meals all being fish.

Experimental Cookery 'Tuesday' #65: Crunchy Garlic Chicken, and #66: Best New Potatoes

I did these a couple of weeks ago.

The chicken was fine - it was easy to make, and tasted good. The only oddity was that they came out green instead of the brown colour in the book. I think this was due to my adding too much parsley, although I only did what the book said.

Anyway, that takes that chapter to 5-0.

The new potatoes were also something of a success, although they could probably have done with a minute or two more cooking. So that would be 3-1 on "Delish Veg".

The Strange Liberation of Loss

After a long, hard week I got home last Friday expecting to have a couple of nice restful days. My game had been cancelled, so I had two full days 'off', during which I was all set to do some light preparation for my Eberron campaign, do a bit of reading, watch some TV, and generally laze around.

Immediately on arriving home, I switched on my PC, then went to make a cup of coffee while it started up. My PC is getting old - it takes several minutes to warm up. I'm sure it didn't used to be so slow.

Anyway, when I came back, I was faced with the horror of a "Windows Failed to Start" message, followed by a cryptic error number.

There then followed a couple of days of messing around, the full horror of which I won't go into. Eventually, I found that the solution was an easy fix - just a bios setting to change. Unfortunately, the setting in question was in a hidden menu that I simply could not access. And so came the ultimate indignity: I had to take it back to PC World for repair!

I eventually got the PC back on Monday, having had the hard disk blanked and the system restored to factory settings. A nice clean slate to work with from here. Since then, I have been busily re-installing software, rebuilding my data, and generally wasting lots of time getting the system working again.

For the past year or so, I kept saying to myself, "I really must get one of those big external drives, and set up automatic backups. It sure would suck if my PC died and I lost all the data I've spent years building up." I kept saying that, and saying that...

About three months ago, I finally bought one of those big external drives, and set up automatic backups. This proved exceptionally fortuitous, as I was thus able to restore all my documents and files after getting the PC back. Huzzah! (And also: bloody hell, that was lucky!)

There's just one minor problem: it seems the the automated backup system does not include email. So, all the emails I have stored since forever (back to my first PC in 1994!) and all of my email contact details, and all of that stuff, is all gone!

I expected to by much more dismayed about this that I actually am. The thing is, while it sucks to lose data, and especially to lose it when I thought it was safely backed up, it's also true that I hadn't looked at most of those emails in years. Indeed, I had folders entitled "From 2007", "From 2008" and "Older" into which I just threw the appropriate emails and forgot about them. So, in many ways, it's a relief to be free of that junk. I wasn't using it, so I haven't really lost anything.

The one thing I did lose was the license key to a particular piece of software I have used only occasionally (but, like much occasional-use software, when I wanted to use it, I really wanted to use it). Even here, though, there's no great problem - they have been able to regenerate and resend the key.

Plus: now my PC is more up-to-date even than it was before the problem hit, and doesn't have quite so much lingering "junk software" lying around. So, really, it might not be the worst thing that has ever happened. Maybe.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Not quite dead

I have fallen behind on maintaining the blog, primarily due to a recent bout of PC problems. Normal service will be restored shortly.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Goals 2009 Wash-up

Last night was the final meeting of my Spanish course. It has been good!

Amongst other things, this completes the last of my goals for the year. So, as promised, here is the wash up, followed by some thoughts.

  • Super Secret Goal #1. Complete.
  • Super Secret Goal #2. Abandoned in April.
  • Books. Complete.
  • Weight loss. Complete.
  • New skill.The Spanish course finished last night. However, a new course starts in January, which will pick up where this one left off.
  • Car fund. Complete.
  • General finances. Complete.
  • Band. Complete.
  • The house move. Complete.
  • TV. Complete.
  • RPGs. Complete. We have actually managed to get together for three whole sessions of the Warhammer campaign (including two in a row!), and should be getting together for another on Saturday (three in a row!). Additionally, I have started up a second campaign in Falkirk, meeting on almost alternate Tuesdays.

And so, there it is. Ten complete, and one abandoned. Frankly, I consider that a rather spectacular result for the year. Some thoughts:

  • The tyranny of goals: For about six weeks there, I was juggling about six different goals concurrently, and so found that my every waking moment, and almost every waking thought, was dedicated to one or another of these goals. This was not a terribly pleasant experience. Next year, I'll either not be setting so many goals, or I will time-limit them so that there is a limit to how many are running at once.
  • That one abandoned goal. Circumstances required that that goal be put on the back-burner indefinately. However, that goal is still important, and is therefore something that is going to have to be one of my main focuses for next year.
  • Once a goal is finished. I have barely read anything since completing that goal. Since coming off the diet, I haven't been anywhere near as rigourous about what I eat, and have regained more weight than I really would have liked (though not a disasterous amount). The amount of TV I watch has gone up and down over the course of the year. In all cases, I have taken the view that once a goal is done, it is done. However, there may be an argument for some goals being considered ongoing matters, and not to be neglected once the (usually arbitrary) target is reached.

Goals for next year?

Well, I will have some. I even have a couple in mind. However, I don't as yet have anything concrete. And, frankly, given how busy I am and am going to be, I'm not sure I will really be able to juggle goals on top of that.