Lazy Luddite Log

24.12.05

Nasta

I have been asked to put this recipe on my weblog so here it is. Nasta is a pasta dish that seeks to emulate the tastes of nachos. The following recipe will produce sufficient Nasta for two main serves or three entre-sized serves. It will take a bit over half and hour to do (more if you insist on harvesting and killing ingredients yourself).

Ingredients

Corn Pasta (250g), Grated Cheese, Chicken Breast (200g), Mushrooms (7 to 10), Avocado (1), Tomato Salsa (200g), Sour Cream (150g), Minced Garlic, Chives, Olive Oil

The corn pasta is the vital component of Nasta which is a bummer as it can be difficult to find in the shops. And even if it's there sometimes it has different names like 'wheat free pasta' (goddam call it what it is you gits). Anyway whatever its name it needs to be made with maize flour.

Rather than do my own grating (who wants to wash a cheese grater?) I get a packet of grated cheese (e.g. 'light pizza cheese' which is a mix of cheddar, mozzarella and parmesan). I also tend to choose light sour cream coz the dish is plenty rich as is.

Preparation

Put your favourite cooking music on the stereo. Remove the hide and nut from one ripe avocado. Turn the thing into a pasty pulp (I do this by chopping it into small bits then putting them into a bowl and attacking them with a whisk). Add half of the 150g tub of sour cream into the pulped avocado and blend thoroughly.

Now put approximately 200g of tomato salsa into another bowl (I just get a jar from the shop rather than make it from fresh tomatoes) and then add the rest of the sour cream into it and blend thoroughly. Now you have two different creamy sauces to use in the cooking.

Take the mushrooms (normal field mushrooms) and chop them vertically into slices. Take the chicken and make sure it is in finger-sized slivers (I prefer to get it pre-sliced for stir-fry).

Now array one pot and two saucepans on the stove top and have separate wooden spoons for each. Put olive oil in both pans followed by a dollop of minced garlic in both pans. Almost fill the pot with boiling water. Now we can cook.

Cooking

Pop the corn pasta into the pot of kettle-boiled water and turn the element on high. Turn the other two elements on high too.

Once the garlic starts sizzling and jumping add the chicken to one pan and the mushrooms to the other pan. Stir both pans constantly and stir the pot of pasta regularly.

Once the chicken has turned from pink to white all over turn all elements down to low. Add the avocado cream sauce to the chicken pan and add the salsa cream sauce to the mushroom pan. Continue stirring the pot and both pans. The chicken and mushrooms need to be well covered in their respective sauces.

Once you feel the pasta is done turn off the pot element and tip the pasta from the pot into a pasta strainer over the sink. Once the water is all gone add the pasta back in its pot. Now stir two or three pinches of the grated cheese into the hot wet pasta. Turn off the other two elements.

Presentation

The dish is presented on a plate in three layers. The lowest layer is the cheesy corn pasta. The mid layer is the chicken in avocado cream sauce. The top layer is the mushrooms in salsa cream sauce. You may also wish to scatter some finely chopped chives on top for effect. Serve immediately as this dish is definitely best hot. You may want to have a refreshing glass of your favourite juice on the side as it is rather rich and the drink may help compensate for the "my gut is full of fat" feeling...

Note for Vegos

To make the dish vegetarian try replacing the chicken with egg plant. If you do this you may also want to sweeten the avocado cream sauce with a dollop of honey.

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23.12.05

Gossiping & Gasbagging

Last night I had drinks with two friends I had met in the ADs. We met at a wine bar in Carlton co-run by a friend of mine. Its name is Sippers and it has nice old worldy decor and big comfy couches. We had some drinks and finger foods which were all excellent. It has been a while since we have got together so we had a lot of fun gossiping and gasbagging.

We reminisced over old times (those 'old times' having been within the last few years) which reminded me how much fun one can have in times of adversity. I gave them both a compilation of all the 'Bazza: Intrepid Office Volunteer' comics I did for the Young Australian Democrats newsletter back then. It's 14 photocopy pages of hand-drawn satire and silliness entitled 'Bazza: The Complete Voluntary Works' and I suppose "fun in times of adversity" is what it's about (anyone who remembers these and wants a copy just ask and I will send you one).

It was a nice way to spend the evening - I need to do more of this small group stuff with disparate friends.

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16.12.05

Unity in Diversity

I went to an event celebrating multiculturalism on Sunday and enjoyed it much more than any rally I have been to for a long time. I have to say that I am so over protests but this one was different in a number of ways.

To start with I was invited to it by non-political friends (nobody is truly apolitical but it's one thing to be political and another to be a hack). The event was organised within a week (indeed the organising group only formed in the preceding week) as a way of showing another side to cosmopolitan Australia than that seen in the recently reported mob violence. Those organising it were politically well-informed but mostly politically non-active (what I have in the past referred to somewhat derisively as 'political spectators'). However they had many relevant organisational and human relations skills that were very well transferred to the task of organising a public rally and community picnic.

I missed the rally from the State Library but from what I was told it was different from the standard protest in a few key ways. They only had a few speeches all of which were relevant. The standard protest however seems to have half-a-dozen speakers all saying pretty much the same stuff one after the other. They are chosen on the basis of what groups they represent rather than what they have to say and as a result pet issues creep into speeches and things tend to run late. The event on Sunday was different.

On the march itself there was a lack of moronic chanting. How the incessant "hey hey ho ho [insert thing one is opposed to here] has got to go!" palls for me. Chants seems to exist to make protesters feel they are all the same (rather than the disparate collection of distinct and sometimes antagonistic interests they are). Once more the event on Sunday was different (I think many of those present are the sort of person who resists regimentation at the best of times).

The kind of problems I have described for protests in general arise from the tendency protest organisers and associated movements have to be inward-looking. For many of the groups that frequent protests the purpose of such events is to help them access others within the 'activist community' - the assumption here is that one is most likely to get extra participants for your movement from among the participants of other 'like-minded' movements. So protests have more to do with cross-promotion within the crowd rather than getting a message to the wider public. As a result only the biggest protests warrant media attention. And yet the gathering on Sunday - which only numbered in the hundreds rather than thousands - got more media than would be expected for its size alone.

It was also distinctive as its focus was very much on what those gathered stand for rather than what they oppose. This helped to make it a much more relaxed and welcoming event. The picnic in the parks at the end of the march was very nice complete with some excellent live music and BYO picnic food. I had many 'small world' experiences in meeting friends there that I know via different avenues (some of whom it seems also know one another). All in all I think it was a worthwhile event and this can be attributed to some extent to the fact that its organisers were free from many of the assumptions and expectations of traditional protest organisers.

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11.12.05

Small Talk Marathon

This post kinda contradicts the blurb thing at top of page. I am sure there will be many others like it.

I went to a dinner in the rural township of Shepparton on Friday night. Why? Well the company I work for have a customer service office in Melbourne (I work there) but the factory and warehouse are in Shepparton. Hence most of the employees live and work in Shepparton. Hence having the dinner in Shepparton. I covered the cost of my V-Line return ticket but the company took care of dinner and one night in a motel.

Everyone is nice and the distinctions between staff and managment are pretty much non-existant. But we barely have anything in common so the dinner was a marathon session of small-talking for me. The restaurant took ages to feed us thus prolonging the experience by some hours. So I got a lot of practice in small talk over the course of the night.

Seems to me that for small talk to work involves two things. One is the finding of things one has in common - everyone has something in common with every other person if only they can find it. The other is in comparing notes and discovering the differences in ones experiences of the same thing. It is by this process that small-talk can become interesting and even find a way into more involved conversation.

The closest I came to this was in comparing notes with a colleague on how we spend Christmas and New Year. My Christmas is a very small and relaxed thing with immediate family while theirs is a large and somewhat stressful event involving many relatives. My New Years tends to be a suburban house party with scores of friends while theirs is a select group of family and family-friends in a holiday house on the coast.

As time went on it got more difficult to find new things to discuss (however the slackness of the restaurant gave us one more thing we had in common and the whinging that arose from this was a good time-killer). Still the whole experience was exhausting. It must be the longest stint of small talk I have engaged in for ages. I got satisfactory sleep that night but the next day was tired all day.

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8.12.05

Dusty Nostalgia

Is that the name of a singer from the 60s?

I have been undertaking some 'spring cleaning' (several days late I know) and coming across all sorts of scary stuff that triggers all manner of flashbacks. Some are so old that what is evoked is less a coherent memory than a vague yet powerful sensation - a toy catalogue from circa 1980 makes me feel something that is very difficult to describe. It is warm and fuzzy however.

Then there are more recent relics like lecture notes with some hand-written conversation that was undertaken with somebody I cannot identify. From what is written they must have been a friend but I cannot be sure who? Were they also enrolled in that subject? Possibly. But they may also have just sat in on my lecture with me (we did those kind of things sometimes daggy as it is to admit). I cannot recognise the handwriting. Here is some of what they wrote: "All cats are grey unless they are not" ... "all Daniels are grey" ... "you are silly" ... "and boring" ... "do some work" ... "write something!" God it could have been anybody. I think the identity of this particular conversationalist is lost to history.

There is a lot of other stuff I have been looking over. Some amusing. Some embarrassing. Some intriguing. One of the things I notice as I look at these old drawings and notes and letters is that memory tends to layer. The original memory may still be there but it is now remembered via layers of more recent memory. The memory of what? The memory of looking over my old stuff from time-to-time. And if the only thing an object reminds me of is the act of looking at it then it tends to go in the bin now. It needs to evoke something more interesting than that (or be interesting in its own right).

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5.12.05

Commentary: Things I am involved in

That should be "things in which I am involved". Anyway...

I refer to the SESFC in another post and have even made an entry dedicated to it (for the sidebar link to go to) as the group lacks its own website (I am the SESFC President by the way).

The ADs I refer to in another post also. What more is there to say? It's been an amazing ride to date with both positive and negative experiences. These days I am more interested in the notion of acting as a fully-fledged citizen who can participate directly in civic life rather than via the device of a political party. However I am still involved in the party - currently I am a branch representative on State Council and also an ordinary member of the Candidate Assessment Committee.

So what of the NFA? Nuclear Free Australia started as an alliance drawing on representatives of different like-minded groups, which is how I got drawn into it (as an ADs rep). Now however NFA is more of a unitary group of activists (I personally feel more like a 'lobbyist' than an 'activist' but that is a topic for another day...) but still has the same objectives. The nuclear industry is one of the few issues for which I am radical rather than moderate. Here is a few things to consider on the issue:

- Nuclear Energy has recently been touted as a 'clean and renewable' alternative to fossil fuels. It is worth remembering however that uranium is a finite resource (much more so than petrol and coal) and that the nuclear industry produces plenty of pollution itself.

- The energy produced by nuclear reactors has to be considered alongside the total resource cost (including energy and water) of mining uranium, processing uranium, transporting uranium, constructing reactors, maintaining reactors, decommissioning reactors, transporting nuclear waste and storing nuclear waste. The industry is anything but efficient and only survives with the financial support of governments.

- The same uranium utilised in nuclear power generation can also be utilised in the production of nuclear weapons. We cannot guarantee that all the Australian uranium exported for energy production is strictly directed into that industry...

Well that is all for the 'Commentary' posts on other parts of this weblog. What now? I can always do nothing for ages. The web is full of out-of-date stuff so what's one more old dusty weblog.

Update

I have now added MonUCS to the sidebar and refer to it in this post.

Another Update

To mark the third birthday of this blog I changed the template. In the process my customised links were deleted. In replacing them I have made some changes. One is the merge 'Sites I Visit A Lot' with 'Things I Am Involved In' and the other is to have changed some and deleted others. My life both off and on-line has become simpler in those three years and that is reflected in the current links...

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2.12.05

Commentary: Sites I visit a lot

My use of most of the sites listed in the sidebar is self-explanatory. As a walker and user of public transport it makes sense for me to visit the Bureau of Meteorology ('Weather') and Met Link Melbourne ('Transport') sites and having them here lets me forget the URLs. I happen to use Yahoo ('Communication') as my free web-based email. And the 'Strong Bad Emails' at Homestar Runner ('Silliness') are the only flash animation things I have consistently got into. So the only things that want some explanation are 'News' and 'Trivia'.

The Australian

I have been asked why I read The Australian rather than a Melbourne newspaper like The Age or The Herald-Sun. It’s basically a habit. It started back 1999-2000ish. At that time I was still getting hard-copy newspapers and The Australian were making an effort to get more customers in Melbourne by selling it for 50 cents an edition. The price was the incentive I needed. Then I started sending letters to the editor and on the occasions they got published it was lovely to get emails from an interstate friend saying "liked your letter in the Oz today". I imagine that was more likely to happen with the avowedly 'national' paper. So even now that I use the web for news I still have the habit of choosing the same paper as back then. The political stance of the paper is somewhat different to my own but I figure that is a good thing not a bad thing.

Wikipedia

Originally I had 'Word IQ' (which uses Wikipedia as its primary source of info) but have since been using Wikipedia directly as it seems to have more up-to-date content. As Wikipedia can be altered by anyone it’s worth taking anything in it with a pinch of salt. Still as long as you are prepared to corroborate the info it's okay. I can kill a lot of time on a site like this and O the wacky things I have discovered...

Did you know that a slater is a kind of crustacean? Or that many old models of electric organ (e.g. Hammond) and electric piano (e.g. Fender-Rhodes) produce sound by having steel parts ('tone wheels' or 'tines') move in the vicinity of electro-magnets thus making them more akin to electric guitars than they are to electronic synthesisers? Or that 'New Liberalism' is a rather different thing from 'Neo-Liberalism'? I could go on... and on... and on...

Update

To mark the third birthday of this blog I changed the template. In the process my customised links were deleted. In replacing them I have made some changes. One is the merge 'Sites I Visit A Lot' with 'Things I Am Involved In' and the other is to have changed some and deleted others. My life both off and on-line has become simpler in those three years and that is reflected in the current links...

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