Thursday, 31 December 2009

Drinking From The Bottle

Apparently drinking beer straight from the bottle is considered a little uncouth! But like me "Fred likes to glug his beer from the bottle, but Mrs. Fred is appalled. So Fred went out and did something about it -- he created this bottle-in-a-glass as an homage to real men like him." Fred you are my hero!

If you also aren't allowed to drink straight from the bottle then you could buy your very own glass.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Use For What?

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Ha Pea Christmas!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Pre-Christmas Dinner

As you may know, last weekend we held our now traditional pre-Christmas dinner.

There were six of us altogether and the menu read as follows:
And as you can see the whole lot was accompanied with copious quantities of red wine.

There was of course a lot more food cooked over the weekend including a maple and mustard glazed ham as part of the Saturday lunch buffet, and a batch of Cranberry and Orange muffins which were all eaten before they had a chance to go cold!

Monday, 21 December 2009

MAG's 2009 Christmas Quiz

Given that we knew there wouldn't be a JAD's Christmas quiz this year I've spent some of the last twelve months thinking of fiendishly difficult quiz questions for everyone else to have a go at. Unfortunately I only managed to come up with 10 questions instead of 20 but hopefully you will find them challenging and enjoyable.

Please don't post answers to the questions in the comments as that spoils it for everyone else. Details of how to submit entries to the quiz can be found in the PDF version of the quiz but for those who just want the questions they are:
  1. Which Rumour returned to the BBC after 12 years?

  2. Connect 1885, 1955, 1985, 2015

  3. If the mouse is purple, the goldfish blue and the scorpion orange then what colour are the dove, peacock and cow?

  4. Johnson's Dictionary, the four minute mile, Kew Gardens, and fourteen others.

  5. Play fair and give the inventor his due!
    I T A Y
    T R H A
    C M W O
    K R W S
    U S T R
    E G W U

  6. Identify
    1. A Soho 'Lady'
    2. A Lonely Spinster
    3. A Schoolboy's Crush
    4. A Flame-Haired Seductress

  7. Connect and explain
    1. Jahnna N. Malcolm
    2. P.J. Tracy
    3. Zizou Corder
    4. M. M. Mannon

  8. Connect
    1. Claudia, Jed, Leo, Josh and Donna
    2. Malcom, Zoe, Hoban, Inara and Jayne
    3. Sydney, Arvin, Marcus, Marshall and Jack
    4. Brian, Sandra, Gerry, Jack and Esther

  9. If hares can run at 10 m/s, tortoises can only walk at 10 cm/s and a snail moves at just 1 cm/s what is the minimum time the hare must have slept for the tortoise to win a race of 3 km?

  10. Why might turning through 360 degrees not be enough to keep you facing in the same direction?

Hopefully you will all enjoy having a go at the questions. The closing date is midday on the 4th of January 2010 and as I said before the submission instructions are in the printable PDF version.


Friday, 18 December 2009

I've Started Cooking!

This weekend we are hosting our annual pre-Christmas dinner (see 2007, and 2008 part1 and part 2). Sorry if you haven't been invited this year but we are struggling to find room for those who are coming to sleep.

Anyway I started on the cooking yesterday and made 4 dozen mince pies and a dozen flapjacks. We've already made the syrup for the mulled wine.

Cooking today will mostly focus on the cold food for tomorrows buffet lunch and of course dinner this evening for those we are arriving today -- if they make it through the snow.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

First Cup Of The Day

For years I used a mixture of free coasters (I acquired quite a few as a student) and AOL CDs (well they should never actually be placed inside a computer), but last Christmas Bryony bought me a set of 'proper' coasters for the desk in my study. I'm not entirely sure how accurate the message is though.

Whilst it is undoubtedly true that before my first cup of coffee I can't handle anything, I'm not sure that after the first cup I can handle everything!

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Press Release

If you read this blog regularly (especially here and here) then you will know that it has been quite busy at work recently as we were preparing for a major new release of GATE. Well today was release day!

The website has been relaunched, software has been released and the University even issued a press release!

Of course I'm only a very small cog in a much larger team, so for once I'll allow a picture of me to appear on this blog so you can see the rest of the GATE group.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Offprints and Odd Things

Some of you may remember that back in March I finally got my first journal article accepted for publication. It was published online almost immediately but it has only just made it into an actual printed journal. I haven't seen the actual issue yet (not sure if I ever will) but the offprints arrived at work last week.
It's quite nice to finally have this article fully published and done with. The work reported in the article was done about four years ago, but it took us a while to find a journal that would accept it and then two years to revise it to their satisfaction. Hopefully my next journal article won't be quite such a struggle.

At the other extreme though is a publication with my name on it that I only knew about after it had been presented. If you remember I went to Lyon at the end of September to discuss some work we have been doing in conjunction with the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). Less than a month after my trip to IARC some of the work was presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of The American Society of Human Genetics -- not a conference I ever expected to publish work at. If you are at all interested in genetics then feel free to read the abstract. I'm a little jealous of the lead author though as he had to go all the way to Honolulu, Hawaii to present the work!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

My Bees Wouldn't Set!

A few weeks ago I baked a birthday cake for Bryony. Whilst I might spend hours icing a cake I usually just bake simple round or square cakes. This time though I thought I'd use one of the novelty cake tins we seem to have acquired recently. Specifically the tin for making a bee hive shaped cake.

Once I'd converted the recipe into something that could be understood (poor English and American amounts don't make for easy baking) the cake itself was easy to bake and assemble. What you can't see from the photo is that there is a back to the cake and so the two halves have to be stuck together with honey flavoured butter icing. Everything was really straightforward apart from the fact that the bees wouldn't set!

The bees were made by piping three different colours of royal icing onto greaseproof paper and letting them set -- unfortunately they didn't. The problem was that making the black icing for the bodies of the bees takes quite a lot of food colouring in comparison to coloring the yellow icing. When I had eventually made black icing I piped the bodies onto the paper and then the yellow stripes and wings. A few hours later when I was ready to assemble the cake I found that while the yellow and white icing had set solid the black icing was still very runny. In the end we left the bees overnight to set. Unfortunately this didn't help much and the black icing was more jelly like than anything else.

In the end I managed to gently lift a few of the bees onto the cake without ruining their shape too much and even if they were a little soft the whole thing still tasted pretty good. I'll certainly be using the cake recipe again, even if I don't use the tin for a while.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

You Muppet!

If you like the Muppets and you liked this post then you are going to love this!