Friday five: cooking

1. How do you feel about cooking?

Generally fairly pleased. I like cooking food I like, and I like it when I can make something other people appreciate, and I don't have to do it often enough it's too much of a chore.

I used to feel guilty that it was a grown-up thing I was supposed to be able to do but couldn't really. Now I feel like even if I can't cook properly I can make do well enough.

2. How often do you cook a meal (from mostly fresh ingredients, not something ready-assembled that you just heat)?

Between the two of us we probably cook a bit more than half the evenings. Somewhat more now we're at home full time during lockdown. Usually one of us takes charge of the meal and the other helps a little or a lot. The other evenings we reheat leftovers, or heat preprepared food, or are ones where we planned a takeaway, or have other plans and snack on something simple.

For lunch I usually don't have the brain to cook at all, it's almost always leftovers, preprepared, or someting simple.

My brain used to have a clear line for what counted as "cooking" as opposed to not cooking. Basically, boiling water, even just for pasta, felt like cooking. Oven chips and pizza didn't. But now it's fuzzier. I can cook pasta more on autopilot without feeling like I have to do anything. And I have more meals made out of prepared things, but with more variation, like pizza with extra veg added on top, chips, and frozen nibbles or left-overs as a side dish.

3. How many people do you usually cook for, when you cook?

Usually me and Rachel. Usually with enough leftovers for a small lunch or a large dinner depending how much I make.

4. Do you have a favourite recipe book or chef?

Lots have been good to me but few I could pick out as the best. Jack Monroe is amazing for simple meals that are really good. It's just one recipe but Hilarita's Lemon Cake is maybe my favourite recipe :) And we've several staples inherited from parents or given as presents who give reliable recipes for a wide variety of things. Rose Elliot. Madhur Jaffrey. Etc.

5. Kitchen tools: use the fewest possible or gadgets are your friend?

I'm always cautious about giving up kitchen space, or investing time and effort in a gadget which doesn't really help, so I tend to be a bit slow about adopting gadgets, but the ones we have taken on have been outstandingly useful. The breadmaker is the recent giant winner, but there's a fewer other staples like rebuying a decent pan when we needed to that made a real difference. You can also comment at https://jack.dreamwidth.org/1121150.html using OpenID. comment count unavailable comments so far.

We don't need "a" exit strategy

People have started talking about an exit strategy. Which would be good, but talking about that as one unrelieved concept is bad.

It's never too early to think about when, how, and under what circumstances, quarantine could be relaxed. Before we ever got into lockdown, people were certainly speculating about what would happen after, and we could have had lots of academics and civil servants writing plans.

But how that happens depends very much on what happens beforehand. I'm fairly hopeful on having SOME kind of breakthroughs. We might get a vaccine. We might get reliable antibody tests that can be mass manufactured and change colour on a strip of paper and don't need to be sent back to the lab. We might discover which types of distancing are useful and which don't work as well. All of these would lead to different outcomes.

But all of those lead to different strategies! And honestly, the UK is sufficiently behind other countries that the simplest thing to do is probably just copy what most countries do. And they probably all need to come with a caveat of "almost any relaxation will lead to the disease continuing to spread, does it have tracing and testing to keep it in the dozens, and if it doesn't work, when does lockdown resume?"

The thing I'm objecting to is too many people calling for "an exit strategy" while deliberately avoiding looking at any of the details. Not, "which distancing measures aren't worthwhile and we can discontinue" or "at what point is it relatively safe" or "these are the circumstances where we should lockdown and these are the circumstances where we should relax". But, in effect, "we want to end quarantine and we don't care about the consequences". If you're not willing to say what the consequences are, that's a bad sign for being willing to accept them. You can also comment at https://jack.dreamwidth.org/1120961.html using OpenID. comment count unavailable comments so far.

Knives Out

Knives out was great fun!

Daniel Craig plays a modern independent detective, described with mild irony as the last of the gentlemen detectives. Sometimes he's just in the same general genre, but occasionally the film leans right into it and he drops a Holmes reference and it's never clear if it's the detective doing it on purpose or the film doing it in a world where no-one knew about the original.

I thought he would be good in this role and he was. But he has this great Boston accent and I just never got used to it. Like, obviously some people just have Boston accents and it doesn't have to be FOR anything, but it still just really stood out.

There's a dysfunctional extended family descended from a rich mystery writer, and the characters comment how his mansion leans into the genre too. His children, and their partners and wives, are all characterised very well. The observant biting businesswoman and her "I'm Important but I Don't Actually Have Anything to be Important At" husband. The frustrated son running his father's publishing company. The screwed up teenage grandson.

But the plot doesn't follow them, it follows the detective and nurse/companion to the old writer, and how they progress through the mystery and how they navigate his screwed up family. It's very well paced, flitting between flashbacks to show how events happened, and between different interrogations happening at similar times.

It wasn't perfect but I enjoyed it a lot, I'd certainly like to see more.

Spoilers relegated to the comments, read carefully if you haven't seen it.

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Belated Friday Five: Earliest memory


Favourite game

Why are you doing this to me? How am I supposed to choose? Many many board games come in and out of favour. Steamworks. Scythe. Gloomhaven. Dnd? Or roleplaying in general? Or if that's too broad something else with infinite replay value like bridge?

Earliest memory

I'm not sure. I think, almost my only memory of the house I was born in was lying in bed one night, and noticing the shapes of things in my room looked like hungry wolves. It felt like a scary thing, but also wasn't VERY scary like I knew it was nervous-making but wasn't actually dangerous. Can't remember much more about it though, the edges of the memory have worn away.

If you could have one wish fulfilled, what would it be?

Again, I have no idea. There's no one big thing missing in my life. I guess another romantic partner I get on as well with as I do with Liv would be a big upgrade? But I wouldn't feel my life was shortchanged without it.

Achieving something... notable in my life? Is that the sort of thing you can wish for, when you want to *achieve* it?

Go back in time and have teenage-me have the confidence to try things and not just watch life unfold? But then I think I'd be an entirely different person.

Or if it doesn't have to be me personally there's a lot of "fix the world" wishes, depending which one looks best.

Have you ever lost something that is important to you? Were you able to find it?

Nothing that felt truly heart-wrenching. My engagement ring seems to be lost somewhere, very hopefully in the house somewhere. But we explicitly said, if we lose them one day, we can buy a new one we love in a similar way and not feel tie the emotions to the first one alone.

I often get really angsty when I lose anything just because i feel out of control, like when I mistakenly put a book down somewhere and forgot it. But most were not vital.

I've lost computer files and similar. But I've generally adjusted fine to not having them. Not having the original flash source for my old winnie-the-pooh game has been a little sad but not really a big deal in the end.

Would you rather go scuba diving or rock climbing? Why?

Floating sounds more blissful. But sound fun and beautiful. And are things I know friends get a lot from. But I admit, I COULD arrange to do either! But I just kind of shy away worried about the faff of actually doing it.

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Further RPG thoughts

I feel like I've finally speculated and played enough I might be ready to run some of the other ideas I have in mind. Current forerunners, something set on Barrayar, and a swords-and-sorcery wander-the-landscape-fighting-dark-lords.

But I keep having further ideas for what can work well.

One is to borrow the idea from various places of a "reputation" track, where progress is measured in terms of how much, when NPCs meet you, they treat you as a famous wizard/scary badass/etc/etc. Or how much your standing with your personal god, or patron organisation, etc rises and how much support and lattitude they're willing to give you. Since having responsibility is fun, but only when it feels real.

The other is, that in order for players to relax and have fun, they have to be able to go into fights clowning about and it not being a big deal if they lose. Be able to play their character and have the scared one and the CHARGE one, etc, etc. But you only really get to that point if they can try things out and see what happens. Which is POSSIBLE if you have a "beaten up but victorious" mode (i.e. a big buffer of healing potions always). But maybe easier if you assume that losing means "embarrassingly driven back" or at worst "left for dead" not "throat slit". So I think I should try building that in from the start, both in terms of plot (i.e. have most enemies have a reason to skirmish and retreat, and fighting for a goal which can be lost without dying), and in terms of mechanics (i.e. make dying default to 'knocked out' not 'dead', and make more forgiving healing, but be more ready to provide informal consequences for losing, like just acting like it was a failure.)

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Life in Cartesian Heights

For years I've been thinking "My life is going pretty well on a personal level, although I wish the world wasn't in such a mess at the same time". Recently has been that but more so.

Rachel and I started working from home just over three weeks ago, before the government started taking measures. I've been counting time since then. It's hard to stay in sync even though I'm working regular weeks. With the exception of being separated from our other partners once tighter measures came in, we were very fortunate to mostly continue much the same: working from home, setting up video chat with colleagues, and moving social events online, but otherwise continuing work, social life, walks, etc.

I was very conscious of being fortunate I could, but also worried about everything I couldn't control, and the things we were missing out on started to slowly creep up.

Then, a week ago, Rachel showed symptoms that didn't fit any cold she'd had before. She's been mostly ok, still working, but with some weird discomfort. But the symptoms fit Covid and the timeline fit her being infected when she went to the dentist in the first week.

So we felt like surely I'd been most probably already exposed as much as I'd been going to be, but the responsible thing to do was separate ourselves as much as possible. We'd agreed that if we needed to, the ill-er person would take the main bedroom next to the bathroom, and the other person would find somewhere else to sleep, so I took over downstairs, doing all the cooking and household chores, and bringing plates of food to R.

The spare bed was quite good when I had the living room to myself and the biggest problem was making sure all the glass doors had covers to keep light out.

We didn't avoid talking from 2m away, mostly from landing to office or top of stairs to bottom and had some nice dates that way.

Given that Rachel is so far only got fairly mild symptoms, it may be overkill, but we felt like we needed to. But really really really hopefully, she will get better, and I will either also have a mild case or not have any case, and then we can go back to going out in moderation and stop worrying about it (and the government won't ban that). Although also likely more events will have overtaken everyone by then...

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