Archive for the ‘And Now You Know’ Category

Michelle Jenneke Does Australia, Dance Community, Proud   1 comment

Dammit, I love track and field! Especially when there’s an Aussie competing, and even more so when there’s an Aussie winning.

When competing at any level of sport, if you’re going to do wild and crazy things, you’d better be damn sure you’re also going to take home the gold. Losers who do wild and crazy things just look wild and crazy. And sad. Winners, on the other hand, can channel their cray cray into talent-backed fame and Internet viral videos. Case in point: Australian athlete Michelle Jenneke and her 100m hurdle pre-race dance at the World Junior Olympics in Barcelona earlier this week.

As you can see, she’s a happy, smiling Australian athlete who clearly knows how to shake out those pre-race jitters. It’s a wonder with all the dancing that they actually show the race, but stay until the end. It’s worth it.
I could have posted a link to the actual race, but this version’s been plussed with music in a way words just can’t describe.

Christmas Pavlova Minis   1 comment

Hi everyone, and Merry Christmas! I haven’t blogged in a while, sorry. But I’m in the process of making Pavlova Minis and I had to share. These little bites are delicious!

Pavlova is an Australian/New Zealand dessert, named after the ballerina, Anna Pavlova, who performed so beautifully for the government at the time, they had the head chef whip up a dessert in her honor. Usually Pavlova is a cake topped with whipped cream and various fruits, but these little diddys are far more manageable.

Here’s me using my neighbor’s retro-fabulous stand mixer (I borrowed it after my crappy $10 hand mixer broke mid-whip)…note the bowl is turning. Mesmerizing.

…And here’s me using a zippy to pipe out the Pavlova Minis – once these are baked and cooled, I’ll fill them with chopped up fruit and cool whip. YUMMO!

PAVLOVA MINIS RECIPE:

Protip: Ensure all your bowls and kitchen utensils are very clean and dry. This recipe is about purity, so you don’t want the remnants of last night’s cheddar scones screwing things up.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 tsp cream of tartar

1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups fine granulated sugar

3/4 cup egg whites (about 5-6 large eggs)

toppings: whipped cream, assorted fruits & berries

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. line baking tray with parchment paper.

3. In a small bowl stir cornstarch in with sugar.

4. In  a large mixing bowl, whip egg whites with cream of tartar, vanilla and salt. Whip on low speed for 2-3 minutes until soft peaks form and bubbles are small and uniform.

5. Increase speed to medium & gradually add in sugar/cornstarch mix spoonful by spoonful.

6. Once all ingredients are mixed together increase whisk speed to high and whip for 4-5 minutes until mix is glossy and stiff peaks form.

7. Pipe or spoon mix into rounds (see picture above – I use a large zippy as a pipe and slice off a corner so the opening is about 1 centimeter in diameter). If you spoon the mixture into dollops on the parchment paper, use the back of a spoon to create an indent in the center of each dollop for toppings.

8. Reduce oven temp to 250 degrees Fahrenheit & add trays to oven.

9. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until Minis are crisp and completely dry to the touch. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN AT ANY TIME DURING THE BAKE.

10. Remove from oven and carefully transfer to a cooling rack. Minis will break easily if you’re not careful. PROTIP: Use a wide spatula and check the underside of each Mini. If it’s squishy put it back in the oven for 5-10 minutes until it’s baked dry.

11. Minis will stay fresh in a sealed Tupperware container for up to 5 days at room temp. (don’t keep them in the fridge), so I find it easiest to bake these the day or 2 before I need them, then I just top them with whipped cream & fruit when it’s dessert time. NOM.

12. Enjoy!

I hope your Christmas is filled with as much nomtastic food as mine will be!

Cheers,

~C

Posted December 23, 2011 by Elfawin in And Now You Know, Random

Tagged with , ,

This Doesn’t Happen   1 comment

This Doesn't Happen

And Now You Know   2 comments

This morning one of my classmates brought up the AFL – the Australian Football League – but wasn’t quite sure about what the sport entails. Well I’m going to devote this post to my country’s most beloved sport, Aussie Rules.

Australian Football, also know as Aussie Rules, aerial ping pong, and footy, is a sport played by skinny blokes and watched by millions. It was established in 1858 at the same time as the Melbourne Football Club, the first club of its kind. Several other footy clubs sprung up as the sport gained in popularity. By 1866 the rules were officially sanctioned and regular competitions began.

Before the start of each AFL game, the players run onto the field and break through some kind of flimsy banner with morale-boosting language painted on it. Attendance size fluctuates dramatically between venues, but the largest crowd attendance was the 1970 Grand Final between AFL teams Carlton and Collingwood. Over 121,000 people showed up to cheer their teams on. Typically the large AFL stadiums in Australia’s major cities will seat around 100,000.

At the end of each regular season, the Charlie is awarded to the “fairest and best” player of the league, as voted by the league umpires. The Charlie is officially known as the Brownlow Medal and is the highest achievement a football player can receive in the sport.

So, what are the rules?

The game is divided into four 20-minute quarters. There isn’t much of a break between the quarters (5 minutes), but half time is 20 minutes long. Teams change ends at the end of every quarter. Games can result in a draw, there isn’t overtime. There are three umpires per game and they each control one third of the field. Wherever the ball is at any one time determines which umpire is in control.

The aim of the game is to score the most points by kicking goals and points. There are two goal posts on each end of the oval. On either side of the goal posts are two smaller “behind posts.” A goal is when a player kicks the ball through the two goal posts. That’s worth six points. A point is worth just one point, and occurs when the player misses the goal and instead kick the ball between either of the behind posts. When that happens, some Australians get upset and mopey and loudly proclaim that, if given the chance, they could have done a better job scoring a goal if they were wearing patches on both eyes and their cleats were covered in Vaseline. True story.

Each team has 18 players on the field at once. The field is also known as the “oval” because of its shape. Each oval in Australia is actually a slightly different size than every other oval in the country. That’s just how it is, okay? Maximizing the playing area was a priority during the early games, and the tradition has hung around. There’s no regulation dimensions for oval size. But they’re all about the same, give or take a bit here and there.

The game starts in the center circle of the field. The umpire bounces the ball off the ground and each team’s center player will try to hit the ball towards a teammate – not unlike a jump ball in basketball, but with a lot more aggressive contact. Once the ball is in play, players aim to get the ball and kick it to their teammates who are (hopefully) in strategically placed positions. A daisy cutter is a particularly low kick. A drop kick is when the ball is released from the hands and kicked immediately after it hits the ground. Drop kick is also the affectionate term for an idiot (literally someone who you’d like to drop and kick, if it were possible). A drop punt is when the ball is released and kicked before it hits the ground. The drop punt is the most frequently used kicking style in the game. A rainmaker is a high kick that doesn’t cover much distance.

The ball is kicked closer and closer to the goal until a player is within scoring distance. At this point, if the player has marked the ball and is awarded a free kick, he’ll take his time and try to score a goal. Typically, goals are scored within the 50 meter line (“the 50”) or closer. Any further out than the 50, and goals get pretty flukey. Here’s a diagram of the oval that also labels player positions…

AFL oval dimensions

When the ball goes out of bounds the umpire will retrieve it and turn his back to the playing area and throw it back into the game over his head. It’s a blind throw, in other words.

A mark is when a player catches a kicked ball in mid-air. A specky is a particularly spectacular mark, or “screamer.” The best speckys will make the local news sports highlights reel after the game. A mark is awarded by a free kick, or if the player doesn’t stop running after marking the ball, the umpire will call “play on.”

A handball is when a player holds the ball in the palm of one hand and knocks it with the other hand to pass it to another player. Handballs are for passing the ball a short distance. Handballs are boring.

If correctly tackled, a player is not allowed to hold onto the ball for more than 3 seconds before getting rid of the ball. If he doesn’t get rid of the ball, the other team is awarded a free kick. Tackling is what makes Aussie Rules such a great sport. In American Football, tackling of the player holding the ball typically results in game stoppage once the ball has been grounded. In Aussie Rules, the game continues unless the ball goes out of bounds or a goal/point is scored.

After a goal is scored, the other team has a free kick from the goal box to start play again. Typically, a high scoring game will easily crest 100 points for both sides. At times, more difficult games with lots of tackling and interceptions will see much lower scores for both teams – perhaps around the 50-80 point range. A team gets “thrashed” when they’re really badly beaten. Don’t worry, they don’t actually thrash the players.

There are tons more persnickety rules, but hopefully my quick summary has helped you make sense of the game in its simplest form. At least if you’re ever watching a game, you’ll be able to identify a mark, a handball, and a breadbasket (that’s a player’s stomach).

Okay, let’s recap: 36 skinny dudes on an oval. The ball is kicked and marked and handballed up and down the oval until a team scores a goal or a point. After points are scored, the other team then starts play again by kicking the ball to the other side of the oval from the goal box. Umpires do funny things with their hands when goals are scored, and the players are cute. Any more questions?

Here’s the last 5 minutes of a clip of the Adelaide Crows (my home team. GO THE CROWS!), outdoing the Geelong Cats in 2010. It will give you a sense of the pace of the game, as well as a look at how amazing the Crows are when compared to the Cats (actually, the Cats are pretty good). Check out the video at about 4:01 – it gets good in the last minute. Lots of tackling and whatnot.

This next clip is a highlights reel of some of the best sporting moments in AFL history. A couple of things I will apologize for in advance: The SD video quality, the heinous audio mix, and the downright embarrassing music selection (“DJDaveT23”, I’m talking to you, sir). A few things I will most certainly not apologize for: The 70 meter long kick at about 4:52 (it’s not a Gatorade commercial, it’s the real thing), the horizontal mark at about 7:55, and the tight shorts on the players. How else is the AFL supposed to get women to come to the games?

Finally, if you have an Apple computer, you can download the official AFL Ladder widget for your dashboard. You can check scores and rankings for the entire league. Pretty nifty!

~C

5 Great Links For LB   1 comment

Hey LB, welcome to the second week of April!

Soooo, when I came over to your house this weekend I noticed your porch swing was out of commission and looking all sad and unused in a pile of chains on your front porch (I thought you had DH trained to fix stuff like that?). In an attempt to inspire you to fix the swing (mostly so I can use it next time I visit), I am dedicating this week’s list of links to DIY stuff you can do around the house. The last link is only for use once you’ve done something constructive from the other four links. Promise? Ok, good. Now GET BIZZAY! (Oh, and thanks again for the DVDs, I’m very excited to have Arrested Development back in my life!)

Home Bar Budget – This DIY idea is a warm up for the others…For when you move, or if you run out of alcohol at the house, this is a fantastic list to keep bookmarked!

Copycat Candy – Still keeping it DIY-manageable for now…For when you want a Kit Kat, but don’t have a dollar, but have all the ingredients to make a Kit Kat (it could happen)

DIY Solar Jar – Ok, get out the tools and have some fun…Perfect for when the electricity goes out! Impress your friends with your scientific skills!

Small Veggie Pots – More involved DIY, definitely satisfying though…No excuses, you can do this anywhere!

Do Nothing For Two Minutes – Except for clicking on this link! (Only if you have accomplished something first)

~C

And Now You Know   1 comment

One of several Anonymous monikers.

Has anyone else been following the recent news stories about the hacker group “Anonymous”? I read about Anonymous a few months ago and now I’m fascinated. There’s no way I can fully explain what Anonymous is, nor can I provide all the mind blowing details about each of their major raids, so if this story piques your interest, run a search for Anonymous in your web browser. The stories you’ll find are seemingly endless. Books about Anonymous will be published, I’ll bet my blog on it.

In 2008 Chris Landers wrote a great (but really long) article for the Baltimore City Paper about the group’s origins. To surmise: Anonymous is a global collection – a “gathering” – of unidentified hackers that wreak anarchic cyber havoc on various organizations and companies for various reasons. The group has been labeled everything from an online Robin Hood to cyber terrorists. Anonymous has no official leader but works as a collection of individuals to hack for causes they deem worthy. Anonymous spawned from the depths of /b/ – a random content forum on 4Chan, which is a massive online imageboard where users can post content anonymously.

Protip: Don’t let your mum visit 4Chan.org/b/.

Rather than fade into obscurity or disband, Anonymous has seemingly grown over the last two years in both membership and notoriety. Some “Anons” hang out in the vast, untraceable depths of Deep Web. One might be that IT guy that lives 2 doors down from you. The reach of Anonymous is global and its headquarters is located everywhere and nowhere. The group’s activities are immensely popular with some people, and detested by others. Your feelings towards Anonymous will likely be decided by which side of the hacktivities you’re on: The observing end or the receiving end. If you haven’t figured it out by now, Anonymous is not a group you want to piss off. The hacking skills of Anons are legitimate. These guys (and gals) aren’t using automated software to find the backdoor into a company or government website. They have other techniques. The kind you see in movies. I can’t even begin to describe what they can do, because I don’t understand it. All I know is that it’s absolutely intriguing. Did you ever see that movie Hackers? Yeah, me too.

Anonymous doesn’t attack random obscure individuals like you or me. Rather, Anonymous takes on major companies, opinion leaders, and movements. Right wing extremists, the Church of Scientology, YouTube, (allegedly) the Epilepsy Foundation, the Governments of Iran, Australia and Egypt, Amazon.com, Visa and Mastercard, and more. Their slogan?: We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.

One organization that became the victim of Anonymous in 2010 is the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, Kansas, USA. This church is essentially a thinly veiled hate group that uses God’s name and some incredibly offensive words to picket the funerals of gay service members and other people. It’s sad to think that groups like the WBC are allowed to function in today’s modern society…but I don’t want to talk about that right now. Back to the cyber story, please! On February 24, 2011, the WBC made insulting and aggressive statements towards Anonymous who, in the middle of a live debate with the WBC, pulled the plug on the WBC website “Godhatesfags.com”. The debate was mediated by David Packman and can be seen below. It gets interesting at about the 7 minute mark (a.k.a., the point where the WBC website gets hacked). As of today, the WBC website is still down. WBC – 0, Anonymous – 1.

You might be thinking “okay, that’s great. But who cares?” Although you will probably (and hopefully) never be on the receiving end of an Anonymous hack, there are some really simple but really important lessons to remember as an individual user of the Internet.

Lesson #1: Passwords. Change them up every now and then. Don’t use the same password for every online account you have. Make sure your password is at least seven characters (but the longer the better). Use a combination of symbols, numbers, and upper and lower case letters. Hackers can use an algorithm tool called a “rainbow table” to figure out passwords. If your password is a combination of your pet’s name and the year you were born, a rainbow table is going to figure that out, Sparky87.

Lesson #2: Don’t send emails that you wouldn’t feel comfortable having published on the front page of the New York Times (the online version, of course). I have mentioned this before in my post about tips for becoming a PR superagent, but it bears repeating. One particularly damaging element of the Anonymous hack on HBGary (ironically a cyber security company who threatened to reveal Anonymous member identities to the FBI) was the release of over 70,000 emails. The emails were posted to the Pirate Bay for global public viewing. As Digital Trends reported, “Subject matter range[d] from a PowerPoint Presentation detailing intentions to plant false stories about WikiLeaks to embarrassing love letters between company execs.” Since the attack, HBGary has lost major clients and partners in the cyber security industry.

Lesson #3: If your computer is turned off, you can’t be hacked. It’s like your computer doesn’t even exist. But if it’s turned on and you’re in a public place (like an airport), check your sharing settings to see if people can find your computer. Is your computer discoverable via bluetooth? You might want to turn that feature off if you’re not using it. And if you’re searching for a wi-fi hotspot, don’t jump on a network that doesn’t look legitimate.

Lesson #4: If you’re using a public computer, make sure you log out of any accounts or social network sites. Just closing a browser window isn’t always enough these days. If you leave your Facebook page open for the world to see, you’re also leaving valuable personal information out in the open for anyone to take advantage of. Don’t be that person. You’re better than that.

These lessons are simple and easy to follow. As an online user these lessons should be second nature to you by now. Although there are multitudes of methods hackers can use to get at your personal data, following these quick tips can help reduce that threat.

~C

And Now You Know   Leave a comment

I was browsing Reddit and came across this little ripper of an image that I wanted to share.

Japan's Tectonic Plates. ~Wikipedia

The image is literally too long to post to my blog, so please check out the link if you’re interested. If you didn’t click the link, here are the Cliffs Notes:

Did you know that the altitude of Everest is higher than the “death zone”? That’s the altitude (26,000 ft) at which air no longer contains enough oxygen to sustain human life. Yet Everest towers above that height at 29,029 ft. How are these mountaineers coping with that last 3,000 ft?

Pop quiz: How long does it take to boil an egg at your house? About 5 or 6 minutes if you live at or just above sea level. On Everest it takes about 18 1/2 minutes. Talk about a waste of time. I’d rather be taking panoramic photographs and focusing on my breathing.

If you scroll down the image to beneath sea level, you’ll notice another tidbit of information:

Once the ocean depth reaches “Deep Sea” – about 5,900 ft – it’s referred to as “The Midnight Zone” because there’s absolutely no sunlight penetrating that far down. Isn’t that cool? Interestingly enough, this depth also coincides with the lowest point of the Grand Canyon (about 6,000 ft below sea level). It’s so fascinating that sunlight can reach a mile below sea level to the bottom of a canyon, but not a mile below the sea itself. Once the depth reaches about 26,000 ft below sea level, you’re in “The Hades Zone”. At temperatures less than 39°F, this area confuses me. I thought the saying was “hotter than Hades.”

Finally, the deepest crevice of the ocean: The Mariana Trench. Approximately 35,814 ft deep.

This trench is a subduction zone for two large tectonic plates – the Pacific and the Okhotsk. A subduction zone is where two tectonic plates move towards each other: The older plate moves under the younger plate, creating earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. When a subduction event is particularly violent, a “megathrust” earthquake can occur. These are earthquakes with magnitudes over 9.0 on the Richter scale. During a megathrust earthquake the seafloor also becomes deformed from the subduction, which leads to gigantic tsunamis at sea level. To the right is an image of the tectonic plates near Japan. As you can see, the country is surrounded on all sides and even dissected by fault lines. It’s a proverbial hotbed for tectonic activity, especially earthquakes.

On March 11th, 2011, Northeast Japan experienced a megathrust 9.0 earthquake and devastating tsunami. The NOAA image below shows the wave height of the tsunami as it spread across the Pacific Ocean. The eastern coast of Japan experienced waves in excess of seven feet. Amazingly, as you can see, the west coast of Japan experienced absolutely no waves at all as a result of the earthquake.

2011 Tsunami Wave Height. ~NOAA.

The way our Earth works is fascinating to me. I find it beautifully orchestrated, yet terrifying and deadly all at the same time. Sometimes I forget I’m on a moving, living, changing planet: Some geological events happen over hundreds of years without being noticeable to most humans. But earthquakes that literally rupture highways, and tsunamis that wipe out entire cities are both instantaneous and devastating to humanity. They remind me that this Earth is not a place to take for granted. I’m lucky to have a nice home located in a relatively stable geographic and geologic environment. If the worst of my problems boil down to stressing about a midterm exam, and worrying about whether or not my dog’s broken paw is healing properly, then I guess I’m doing okay. I hate to get all sentimental and mushy, but take ten seconds to put your life in perspective. Are your problems really that bad?

~C

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