From :

October 03, 2007

Latest Terrorist False Alarm: Chili Peppers

In London:

Three streets were closed and people evacuated from the area as the search was carried out. After locating the source at about 7pm, emergency crews smashed their way into the Thai Cottage restaurant in D’Arblay Street only to emerge with a 9lb pot of smouldering dried chillies.Baffled chef Chalemchai Tangjariyapoon, who had been cooking a spicy dip, was amazed to find himself at the centre of the terror scare.

“We only cook it once a year — it’s a spicy dip with extra hot chillies that are deliberately burned,” he said.

“To us it smells like burned chilli and it is slightly unusual. I can understand why people who weren’t Thai would not know what it was but it doesn’t smell like chemicals. I’m a bit confused.”

Another story.

Were this the U.S., that restaurant would be charged with terrorism, or creating a fake bomb, or anything to make the authorities feel better. On the other hand, at least the cook wasn’t shot.

EDITED TO ADD (10/4): Common sense:

The police spokesman said no arrests were made in the case.”As far as I’m aware it’s not a criminal offense to cook very strong chili,” he said.

EDITED TO ADD (10/11): The BBC has a recipe, in case you need to create your own chemical weapon scare.

Tell them they can’t eat any more Mars bars, because their manufacturer, Masterfoods, has started using animal rennet in them instead of their vegetarian alternatives.

As a public service, here’s a list of the products that do or don’t contain the stomach linings of calves:

Vegetarian Suitable Products:

Confectionery:
Aquadrops ®
Skittles Fruit ®
Starburst ® Sours/Fruits/Strawberry
Tunes ® Blackcurrant/Cherry/Strawberry
Lockets ® Blackcurrant/ Extra Strong/ Honey & Lemon

Ice Cream:
Starburst® All: Varieties

Milk Drinks:
Mars ® Original Drink/ Extra Chocolate/ Thick Shake
Galaxy ® Smooth and Creamy/ Thick Shake
Maltesers ® Chocolate
Bounty Frappe®
Bounty Drink®

Powdered Drinks:
Galaxy ® Hot Chocolate/ Hot Chocolate With Caramel/ Hot Chocolate Bliss
Maltesers ® Hot Chocolate

Vegetarian Unsuitable Products:
i.e. Products which may contain whey Derived from animal rennet:

Confectionery:
Bounty ® Dark / Milk
Celebrations ®
Flyte®
Galaxy Ripple®
Galaxy Minstrels®
Galaxy ® Block/Caramel/Fruit & Hazelnut/ Hazelnut
Galaxy Promises ® Cocoa Crisp/ Caramel Crunch/ Roast Hazelnut/Rich Coffee
Maltesers ® Original / White
Mars Original ®
Mars Delight
Mars Planets®
Milky Way ® / Crispy rolls / Magic Stars
M&M’s ® All Varieties
Revels®
Skittles ® Sours / Rainbow
Snickers®
Topic®
Tracker ®Chocolate Chip / Forest Fruit / Lemon / Roasted Nut
Twix®

Ice Cream:
Bounty ® Ice Cream
Galaxy ® Caramel Swirl Ice Cream / Vanilla / Triple Choc
Maltesers ® Ice Cream
Mars ® Ice Cream / Xtra Ice Cream
Snickers ® Ice Cream / Xtra Ice Cream

Not that I am vegetarian, but this does strike me as a rather dubious policy and the is trying to get people to complain to Masterfoods. Personally I’ve just been enjoying the looks on people’s faces when I tell them…

Edit: Okay, I was out by 2 million on the number of vegetarians…

The last two weeks have been largely taken up with two things: work and pain. My quasi-annual back pains kicked in again and this time I was given no choice, no escape and no way to avoid my fate; It was the chiropractors for me. And I’m actually glad I’ve gone. My weekly appointments have helped and apparently I’ll hopefully be on track for going up to SnoZone in Milton Keynes in January.

Work has been busy, but in a good way. It’s been quite varied, what with calls from my previous client, support work and some presales thrown in there for good measure. It’s meant I’ve really been enjoying my job and makes me glad I stayed in the department I am.

A couple of weekends ago was a gaming weekend where we played Aberrant and Vampire. The Abberant was much enjoyed and the Vampire is really starting to pick up momentum. The next game is in January, followed by one at Conception.

And on the topic of Conception, I’ve decided to run a one-off Mage game there, inspired by 1920’s pulp adventures, ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ and Whacky Races. Hopefully I can pull it off!

I’ve finally settled on what my Christmas meal will be and we’ve tried making it to make sure it works: Venison steak with a port and juniper gravy. Mmmm… Bambi…

That’s it for now, hopefully more frequent and more interesting posts henceforth!

These bi-monthly updates are getting quite tiresome, especially as they seem to be becoming a habit. It’s difficult to blog at work and I tend to get distracted blogging at home. Must try harder!

So, Bryce already covered and the return to . It’s a shame the service wasn’t great at the end as I know it’ll put people off the restaurant. There’ll always tend to be a tendency of “Well, the food was good, but the service wasn’t so hot. Let’s try somewhere else…”
Incidentally, according to Wikipedia, Lalibela is “ is one of modern Ethiopia’s holiest cities”.

Work is going okay. I’ve decided to stick to the job I was hired for rather than moving to more ‘exciting’ areas. I almost shocked myself how easy the decision was in the end. How things change…

Last week, of course was and Penny and I carved pumpkins. Much fun indeed and photos in the link.

Last night was the , which wasn’t bad. However, and I do hate to say this, the firework display in Aldershot was better…
I took some and some , allowing me to mess about with .

Next weekend? The .

And in the meantime, this month is National Novel Writing Month, to it’s friends, and I am taking part this year. The goal? Fifty thousand words in one month. And I’m already behind…

Strange subject line? Well you can just imagine my face when I saw it on today’s lunch menu! Okay, very childish and immature, but it still makes me snigger. Not sure my colleagues would appreciate it though.
This week is a week of preparation for an all-week workshop/project milestone event in Eindhoven next week. Busy, busy. But you never know, it might mean I get rolled off this project. And rolling off is probably appropriate, my eating habits have bcome disgustingly unhealthy.
Looking forward to seeing The Wolves in the Walls on Saturday in Hammersmith with Penny on Saturday. And Sunday… I’m meeting The ‘Rents. Penny’s that is. If I don’t survive the encounter, it’s been nice knowing a great many of you.

There’s just no end to the activity these days. My weeks are spent generally in another country (so much for being mostly based in the UK) and so I don’t get to spend anywhere as much time as I’d like with Penny or in the new flat we worked so hard for. And are in fact still working hard for as there’s some new furniture to be assembled and filled and there’ll still be more to come. This ‘starting afresh from the ground up’ lark is getting tedious. It’s progress but very slow, a gradual journey.

Last weekend was a good one though. It would have been even better if I hadn’t fallen a little ill (which always seems to happen these days when I take some time off), but still good. Penny and I went into London to be tourists for a while, popping into the Maritime Museum (pirates research) and the Cutty Sark (pirates inspiration) before grabbing some food at a very tasty vegetarian restaurant called . Penny also finally managed to aquire Dave McKean’s ‘Cages’ and I picked up a Constantine book, ‘All his engines’ in Forbidden Planet.

It was Day on Saturday. Nothing happened to me, but the funniest web-based ones were who announced: “After many years of attacking religious beliefs, illusionist Derren Brown has decided to return to the Christian faith of his childhood and is looking to join the priesthood.” Highly amusing. , a site of tips and tricks for easier living, posted up advice for dealing with, or living as, zombies. Apparently the shotgun is the weapon of choice for zombie hunting.

What a weekend! First off, for the impatient, the photos are here.

I’ll have to summarise this in bullet points as far to much happened for extensive prose!

Friday

  • The actual day of my and a day off work for me. Hurrah!
  • Presents! An antique-style wall clock from my mum and, rather excellently, the Anansi Boys audiobook, as read by Lenny Henry. Result!
  • Into Guildford for some exploring
  • Off to Craggy Island again for some climbing (once the test had been passed). Some traversing, some top-rope graded climbs and some bouldering. I had to borrow a harness because, oh horror of horrors, I’m not the svelte 25-year old I once was and my harness no longer fits! It seems I ate all the pies.
  • Dinner at , an oriental restaurant. A miso soup for starter and an excellent Mongolian chicken dish for the main course, all in view of
  • Snow! I win!

Saturday

  • A gentle start to the day
  • Saw on the train to London! Who knew how far Penny’s organisational skills ran! Certainly much better than my ‘appear suave and cool while talking to celebrities’ skill as all I managed was a “Hi” and a bit of a smirk, which was rewarded by a fairly dismissive smile. But at least there was an element of communication there, or so I’d like to kid myself
  • Got to at 14:30. Somewhat late as I was expecting to meet Mark at 14:00. No Mark though, who phones at 15:00 to cancel, pleading ill health
  • Due to a combination of accidents, incidents, misunderstandings and other reasons, nobody arrives for the next two hours! Numerous conspiracy theories, fueled by the Budvar I’m drinking, begin to develop. Do I have the wrong time? The wrong pub? The wrong day? Thankfully, eventually, everyone makes it.
  • The first presents! One never knows when one might need an album of 70’s music or a talking Captain Hook action figure!
  • Eventually we head off to Kentish Town to the restaurant. We go to the Ethiopian restaurant, and a most excellent meal it is!
  • Major present time… And it’s a PSP! Much desired and not-very-secretly coted by yours truly since release and now it’s mine, all mine! Muahahaha!
  • At the end of the night it was off to a hotel for Penny and me, much better than trying to negotiate the engineering works on the trains home.

Sunday

  • Chinese New Year! And what that seemed to mean was an ocean of people, 200,000 reportedly, gathering in Trafalgar Square waiting for the dragon procession.
  • Rather than wait around, Penny and I went into the Nationall Gallery, just long enough to view the , and the .
  • Back to Trafalgar Square for a bit of the dragon procession, at least those glimpses stolen in between even more people. Time to move on.
  • To go forth and purchase PSP paraphernalia. Hurrah!
  • Met Karen, Lynsey and Kev in All Bar One for a glass (or two) of wine before heading into China Town to observe the cabbage eating dragons and to buy ourselves some food poisoning
  • The London Eye was perfectly timed. Just at sunset, the sky literally changing colour as we moved around, all the building lights coming on and the Chinese New Year fireworks viewable just as we reached the peak. Most excellent.

And that was it. A highly memorable and very enjoyable 30th birthday. Thanks to all who were involved in any way at all.

Thursday was the day. Finally it had come. I had to do a presentation today instead of sitting there, looking interested and occasionally making a comment or asking a question that at least sounded intelligent. Thirty minutes of presentation, three questions and it was over. The climax of the working week. I felt dirty, yet relieved.

The afternoon was spent doing some sight-seeing and buying a couple of bottles of Arzuaga that I had had the chance to sample the previous night.

The evening was a team dinner at a rather excellent Basque restaurant which was a wonderful experience as well as excellent food.

Friday was a day holiday for me, spent in Madrid. Since I’d been lucky enough to get plenty of sight-seeing time in throughout the week, all that was left on my itinerary were the Prado Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum of Art. The former was an immense museum and there was no way to do the whole thing in a day, never mind two hours. So I focussed on the 10 odd rooms of the works of Goya. The TB Museum was a more eclectic mix and very much enjoyable. Some of the work I particularly enjoyed was by Conrad Felixmueller and Emil Nolde.

After that, an uneventful flight home and back to Penny.

Thursday

Phew! The last day of running workshops! (Pork and fish were the lunch options again) And so another evening’s entertainment had been organised. This time it was *gasp* in the centre of Braunschweig! We were going to leave the hotel! After some Dutch courage to brave the great outdoors, we headed off to an Argentinian steakhouse. Mmmm Lovely! Best steak ever! Though I might have been biased by the fact that it was neither pork nor fish.

After food some colleagues and I decided to go off and do some sightseeing before joining the others in a bar. It turns out that Braunschweig, of which I’d not seen anything but the industrial side, was actually a very pleasant, pretty mid-sized town with an architecturally interesting old-town.

So eventually we ended up in a bar called DAX, after the German stock exchange. It turned out not to be as random a name as was thought, as the prices of all drinks were displayed on a giant board and changed electronically every two minutes, depending on demand. It did cause quite some drink mixing with some people, as they would rush up to the bar whenever something was particularly cheap, regardless of what it was. Personally, I made sure managers were buying and stuck to the excellent local beer, Duckstein.

Friday

A sort of day-off! Hurrah! After some work in the morning, I had nothing else to do. Around about this time I also learnt that I had had the most gruelling workshop schedule of everyone, as I had been presenting in every single slot. The next nearest person had only presented in every second slot. So, with that in mind, I decided I was entirely justified in going off to Braunschweig to do some sight-seeing, shopping and general dosing about before it was time to catch my flight home.

I finally came home Friday night, laden with food, new clothes and books. It was a long a troubled journey home, but I was certainly glad to be back and glad to see Penny again.

Saturday

Ah, blessed weekend! Saturday was a busy day, consisting of picking up a new company mobile, a new computer part-paid by the company and, when Penny finished work, we went and had a lovely meal at The Swan, which is on the Basingstoke Canal. Next we had the Aldershot Fireworks Extravaganza, or whatever it was called, which was actually excellent. And finally, Di’s housewarming where I most anti-socially drank Di’s wine and spent most of the evening talking to someone with fairly balanced views on paganism.

Sunday

Virtually nothing happened today. Thank the gods…