Thursday, February 23, 2012

Cheap Dessert and a general update


Uni season has begun again, and things move from one end of the fun spectrum to the other as this week has gone by. But of most of the things that have happened this week, I think I would start with Saturday's activities.

On Sunday I travelled back to the big smoke. So, with Saturday being my last full day to go and do fun things, the Old Guard from my home church headed out to a waterhole that us and a handful of other people in the local area know about. It's a spot you need a four-wheel-drive car to get to, and judging by the small jungle that we had to push through to get to the parking area, it would seem that the last time the track was used was when we last went down there.

It's also been raining quite a bit since the start of the holidays, so our trek down was something of a giant mad-toboggan ride. We got out okay, but there was a lot of mud stuck to the back of the car at the end of it.

I have a couple photos from this outing. I've gone with the group twice before and both times forgot to grab clothes for swimming in. Which was an error. This time that fact got fixed, so I was spending more time in the water than taking photos of everyone jumping around and chasing a butterfly.

So, Documentational footage.

Podiatry-based puns aside, I think also half the reason why the photos were less this time was because I spent more time being dunked in freezing cold water and generally having fun; looking at the tiny details in the moss and rotting wood chilling up on the top of the waterfall with us, poking weird stuff, and laughing when the lads fed one of the tiny ponds of tadpoles sunkist.

It's the little things in life.

The little, glorious things. I really like this waterhole, freezingness aside.

The other, slightly important (well, it's important now) thing that happened when we were out there was that I fell over. It sounds short and concise and that's really what it is. Some of those bits of rock were really slippery. I walked on one of those slippery bits without traction control engaged and the hardest rock in the world hi-fived my body.

I was a bit busy trying not to let it hi-five my head on the way down, so I didn't have any idea on what happened to my big toe. Still don't have any idea at the moment, but I've got roughly the same stride length as my grandfather, and he only has one knee.

At the moment? Visited the doctor yesterday. She thinks it might be fractured. My toe, that is. Not Grandpa's knee. I have to go somewhere and let them do science to my foot to find out. I'll show you the results when I get back from it. Anyway, it hurts, and I tend to whinge a lot when I bust something. So there you are. My whinging. Moving on.

We spent the rest of the arvo chilling out, watching Zombieland, until finally darkness fell and the last bits of the plan were put into place. Steel Wool, it turns out, you can set on fire if you rub it with a battery. By putting together a simple rig, we made sparks and took photos of them.

Also, I'll probably include details for that in a pyro-related post. I've still got to tell you all about fireball. It will be fun, and also disclaimer-riddled. Comes with the job description.

Does it? hrm.

Okay. Fast-forward to at the moment. Uni is about to start, there is food in the fridge and I'm going to try and write a doujinshi this year. (A doujinshi is a fanfiction in manga format. Last time I checked.)
It's as much an exercise in drawing as it is in storytelling. And as a writer, I'm so hyper-aware of Mary Sue that staying away from them is something that happens all the time. I hope.

(Although, I did plan to write a send-up for the concept a while back. One day...)

So, the present. It's a bit scary, but I'm not too worried. Everything happens according to Someone Else's plan, and that Someone Else has my best interests at heart. Yours too.

What else should I yammer on about for ages?

Oh yeah. The other part of the title.

I've got a few more friends from home moving down to Newie this year. They're already here, and I've caught glimpses of one or two about campus.

That said, I kind-of decided to start posting recipes to cheaply-made, good unifood. So, the first one is:

Caramelised Apples.
(Stuff you, American Spellcheck! I'm going to spell it with an 'S' whether you like it or not!)

This is possibly the simplest dessert I've ever made, aside from Jelly. It got rolled into the food-book when part of the Old Guard went to Queensland to visit more of the Old Guard mid last year. You need.

~1 Apple per person. (Juicy is best, but whatever is in season is pretty good)
Something to fry in/with. A saucepan will do the trick, but a frying pan has more surface area. Bec and I don't have a cooktop, so we'd use a skillet instead.
Ice-cream. Uni Students tend to prefer Homebrand for some reason.

So. Slice the apples into six-eight pieces. Take the seeds and funk in the middle out.
Heat up the pan to a low-medium temperature.
Throw le apples in. Throw le sugar on top. Don't actually le throw literally otherwise you'll have a buttload of stuff to clean up later.
Add a little bit of water too.

Thing is, when you heat up the apples, the juice begins to heat up. Caramelises them, with the help of the sugar. So, if everything goes alright, the apples turn a slightly-mushy golden brown, and sit in their own juices and the melted sugar and water. Reduce the liquid in the pan.

Apply Ice-cream to bowls, then apply apples and caramelly goodness to the ice-cream. Get as much of the juice out of the pan as possible before it cools.

Makes Kitchen smell like apple-themed awesome.
Melted Sugar requires really hot water to clean up once it hardens. So try and wash out the pan before it cools.

Also, sugar can be easy to burn if you use a temperature too hot. The water acts as a buffer, so it's a little bit harder to mess up, but if you begin to smell burning, get that food off the heat immediately. Hot sugar redefines what you understand as 'hot'. But it's good. Be liberal with your sugar application.


I put this together for my Bible study group last year. It fed twelve people and cost me about eight bucks.

It's really rich and sugar laden. I was astonished when Babs went back for seconds.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Life lessons from Video Games and Anime.

I probably need to start this post by presenting you, the reader, with some important things. They aren't by themselves and of themselves of great importance, but they will make sense shortly.

It goes without saying that I am an avid gamer. It's pretty evident for my face-to-face mates, and probably traceable from the blog posts that exist so far. I'm into RPGs and puzzle games, but also a lot of the culture that comes with it. So, while I play games like Zelda and Final Fantasy, I also follow Red vs. Blue and understand a lot of the terminology that comes with the territory.

Like the bit where you don't give Caboose anything pointy, ever.

That aside, I actually spent a lot of my childhood during Christmas holidays playing Zelda. But not any other time of year, because it was our Aunts who lived in Queensland who owned the game.

By leaps and bounds and walkthroughs, we made it, and seven years after we started fiddling with the '64, we beat Ganon.

Well, Jack's file beat Ganon. It was a joint effort between him and myself.

So yeah. Ocarina of Time was kind of instrumental in how I see stories and the world and the characters. It was a little weird back in January when I realised the list of similarities between reality and Hyrule.

That can be saved for later.

But then.

Part of the whole Zelda thing is the fact that you, the protagonist, have to save the Princess and the Kingdom from the Evil Socerer and obtain the Triforce (magical thing that lets you do whatever the heck you want). But the push behind your character obtaining the Triforce, and the reason why the bad guy can't hold it, is because he is out of balance (and also evil.).

The Triforce splits and then he gets the third devoted to Power, which is what he has.

You, the player, get the bit that is for the guy with the most Courage, because obviously you have to be crazy brave or crazy stupid to fight giant spiders, dinosaurs, jellyfish, ghosts, dragons, more jelly creatures, more ghosts, witches and Big Bad himself.

The Princess (your girlfriend (or your sister, according to Jack)) gets the bit of the triforce with Wisdom. Probably because they need another thing to tie you and Big Bad and the Legend of Zelda, even though your character's name is Link.

So, Ganon just wants his Power bit and Zelda's Wisdom bit. And somehow you and Zelda beat him. Courage and Wisdom.

Courage and Wisdom.

Slightly monumental in how I see things. Because, well, not just the Triforce.

It takes Courage to go out and do something gutsy. But Wisdom kind of helps in making sure that you don't behave like a complete idiot when you do keep going. Power? Pfft. Power is good in getting you places. But I have found over time that, in keeping with Japanese RPGs and mute fairy boys, if you know what to do, all you need to do is be willing to stick your neck out and try.

And that's something that I wish I saw more of in the real world.

To keep trying. To pick yourself up and stand, even when everything else tells you that you should just lie down and die. To keep your heart in the centre of the maelstrom because there's every chance that if you stay, you can fix it.

This is especially important, because I spent a lot of my teenage years hiding mine and running away. When I wasn't trying to figure out how to interact with people who'd learned those skills back when they were eight.

Homeschooling has its ups and downs.

So yeah. Courage. Need it.

Wisdom. Need that too. I spend a lot of time with my feet in my mouth. Maybe not literally, but figuratively? Dude, if you want figurative I have three feet. It's ridiculous, and there's no excuse for it. So. Get Wisdom. It does miles of good.

What else?

Not Power.


I learned Resolve a little bit later down the track.

I mentioned Bleach a while back. You can read the synopsis there if you really want.

Part of the whole Bleach thing that I didn't mention in the post about the Giant Black Butterfly From Hell was how the protagonist has to go and rescue the girl and fight the Big Bad.

Sound familiar?

There's more drama and action and yelling in Bleach. And more blood. But, the thing that the protagonist has to learn before he saddles up and storms the fortress is that he would face up against things determined to bring him down. To kill him. And he had a duty there; to protect her. Save the girl from an execution, because she had saved him before. Protect her with the ability she'd given him.

I understand if it reads a little weird, or if it doesn't immediately make sense where all this is going just yet. I'll get there.

The guy who trains the protagonist teaches him the value of Resolve. Of deciding something and deciding it so strongly that your eyes glow and you gain the will to see this thing through.

So, it takes a certain setup to make one's eyes glow, and an even more careful one to make a human's eyes glow without causing permanent damage to them. But that's not really the point.

The point, and the value in learning Resolve, is that Ichigo, the protagonist, takes on an army of enemies. I'm including Squad 11 in there, for those who follow the series and want to get nitpicky. On just about every occasion he is only just able to defeat them; partially because it makes for a good story, partially because the Anime producers want you to tune in next week, and partially because he decides to get off his rear and do this thing.

Sometimes it's because Shiro rocks up. But Shiro will get a blog post later.

So, the series teaches the viewer/reader the importance of protecting what you hold dear (in Ichigo's case, it's pretty much always his friends. Unless he's sparring with his Dad.), and the value in Resolving to see something through. Because otherwise, nothing will change.

Like I mentioned in the other Post, Bleach didn't get discovered until I was in my final year of High School. But the idea of Resolve stuck, and stuck as well and as truly as the aforementioned Courage and Wisdom combo.

Because, when I started thinking about it, it takes Courage to stand up and grab your sword/item of a catalyst nature. It takes Wisdom to know what to do with that Sword. But it takes Resolve to hang onto it.

So go out. Be willing to do something, even when the odds seem poor. Don't do a half-assed job with something because you couldn't be bothered, or if it didn't resonate with you the way you wanted. Talk to people, whether or not you think that they're mad. Treasure what's around you, because chances are that you'll have to defend it at some point in time and not only will you want that thing you're protecting to be solid, but you'll want to be solid when you stand up. Start properly, and finish properly.

Be Courageous.

Be Wise with that Courage.

Be Resolute when you're being Wise with that Courage.

And something worthwhile might just happen.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Halfway to Life, the Universe and Everything


This, I have noted, is the season of life where almost more of my friends are married now than not. This can be slightly understandable in some circumstances. I mean, some of the friends got married to each other.

But yes. We enter our early twenties and the season of 'weddings and twenty-firsts'.

When most of your friends are at least a year older than yourself, the process gets accelerated a bit. I've been witnessing frequent matrimonies for the last four years or so.


I'm not talking about Weddings yet. But Twenty-Firsts, yes. Sounds good.

It's forty-five minutes to midnight, and I've made it back from the trek out to a mate's property for his 21st celebration. Ate a lot of food and enjoyed pleasurable company. And caught frogs, and tried to avoid the mud. Only one of that second set of statements was true.

[it was the one about the mud. SO MUCH MUD.]

And then I drive home in Dad's car because mine is missing most of the doors at the moment (maintenance). Dad's car which has no functioning stereo because it locked up after Jack ran the car flat. This is not the point.

The point is that I spent about equal parts of time, driving silently because I had to concentrate and avoid the potholes, talking to myself and singing as loud as I could because I was driving through the middle of nowhere.

Am I tone-deaf? Partly. Yes.

Can I do anything about it? Not really. But this way was alright. There was the curved road, damp under the recent rains, and the soft glow of Navi the GPS and me bellowing out Florence + the Machine lyrics like it was kareoke and I was intoxicated.

I wasn't intoxicated. I was trying to think of an allusion that involved little inhibition. Because it was me and about 800kg of car.

And when you drive at night, with no stereo, you start thinking lots. Some of it is trying to tell yourself that the bark hanging of those powerlines is not a body. Some of it is trying to rationalise other parts of life in general. Some of the bits are devoted to whatever you just experienced.

Turns out I was musing over what I'd just experienced. And realised where it was in relation to myself.

I do a lot of comparison. I think it's a firstborn thing. You and Second spend a lot of time trying to be noticed by the parents more; the firstborn because you have to do all the trailblazing, and people expect you to be awesome and successful, and the secondborn trying to top that with something else.

Jack does it with personality. He's the people person at a party. I'm the person that chills over next to the guacamole. Guacamole girl. Until it comes to making something cool that might explode. I can do that too.


I've never been able to pick up a proper job. At the moment I'm still trying to plug these painted shoes I'm working on. And they do look cool. I'm just not very good at marketing.
I've had work patternmaking before; once. I had a second one lined up for the beginning of last year, when I had almost a week between landing in Sydney from London and then moving to Newcastle. In retrospect, it was probably a good thing that that one fell through. I had the guy adding more and more and more things to the order. Which was insane.
The rest of the time it's been deskwork, cleaning or popcorn. None of which are very fulfilling.

I'm hoping to find employment when I head home again. Maybe. Maybe I'll just get swamped again and spend my days hunched over a computer, sniggering at Red vs. Blue shorts. It seems to be one of the few things I'm good at.
Getting paid to do some art; that would be nice. Being able to sell my art would be nicer.
Ah well, artists aren't usually famous until they're dead. Unless they are Picasso. But Picasso was a genius.

pfft. Yep. Not famous 'til dead.
I guess that shouldn't be long on a student's diet.


this is a really positive blog post, eh? I'm sorry if it was not to your liking. It's probably the rum talking.

Rum can't talk.

It's probably the removal of inhibitions. Which I'm attributing to the rum.

Now, back to the best idea I had while driving. Go and find my old Hanson CDs. And listen to all of them.

90's boy bands with bad hair, here we come.