Friday, 27 October 2017

Shar Airag

Ever wondered what a Mongolian cover of Pink Floyd sounded like?

Let's get the negatives out of the way.

Ken Leeee....

There's one. The other is that the female singer, singing an emphatic heartfelt homage to existential angst, raises her  hands in the air in pride at at how well she's singing.

And that's all. These guys are a tight musical unit, dealing with a complex set with aplomb. In another language.

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Thursday, 26 October 2017


i have been reading a book called Dark Age America, by John Michael Greer. As with many of his works, it looks for patterns in history, applies them to an analysis of the present, and extrapolates them into the future. It makes for interesting, if somewhat dark reading.

Anyway, one bit of it caught my attention. Greer was pointing out that labour saving devices. Only save labour if you don't include the time you spent earning the money to pay for these gadgets in the first place. He also pointed out that you have to find something else to do with the time you saved by just pressing a button instead of manually doing whatever task was now being done by your machine.

To cut a long preamble short, I had a go at making my own bread. Not putting stuff into a bread maker, but actually making bread, from scratch ingredients. I found a recipe on the Internet, and followed it closely. I weighed a precise amount of flour into a bowl, and added carefully measured portions of oil and salt. I meticulously measured out exactly 300ml of water (at exactly 41.6 degrees centigrade) and added a precise dose of yeast. Then I assiduously kneaded it for exactly twelve minutes, before putting the dough into a baking tin, letting it rise, then baking it for exactly 34 minutes.

In the process, I managed to use 7 bowls, 15 different utensils, several jugs, two metres of cling film, and an egg slicer. I also managed to get dough stuck to the taps of the sink, the ceiling, and the handle  of every cupboard door in the kitchen.

The result though, was an edible loaf. It came out of the oven smelling just like freshly baked bread. I tipped it out of its tin, and tapped the base. It's supposed to sound hollow. I supposed it did, but having never done this before, I had no way of knowing if it was how it should be or not. I sliced off a crust, slathered it with butter and tasted the fruits of my labours. It was very more-ish, and I obliged myself by having more. And more.

You can't digest hot bread. It just sits in your digestive tract, gradually fermenting. So I spent the next couple of days feeling like I had a small boulder in my lower intestine until I finally shat it all out.

Since that first attempt, I have not bought another loaf. I'm actually enjoying farting around with all this. I was told that baking is a science more than an art, but bread is actually pretty forgiving when it comes to precision. So I've streamlined the process, and I've tried experimenting with adding or substituting different materials. The least successful was the one where I replaced the water in the recipe with beer. The dough still rose, and it baked ok, but it just tasted and smelled a bit odd. It was ok, but it just didn't work that well. My most successful experiment was the apple and cinnamon honey glazed loaf. Now doesn't that sound lovely?  As for streamlining the process, I can go from getting the scales out to washing out the one bowl and the teaspoon I used in about 5 minutes. The process of letting the dough rise, and baking can't be rushed though.

And was Greer right? Well, making a loaf takes a couple of hours, but most of that time it's sitting somewhere either rising or baking. I am not sat in front of the oven watching it slowly brown. I set a timer and I go and do other things.

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Sunday, 1 October 2017


There are places in the ground

Where drugs can be found

So stoners with drills

Leave potholes to fills.

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