One bonobo's view of the world...and stuff.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Geor-Geor-Geor-Geor-Georgia's always on my-my-my-my--my mind

Here's a not-very-good cameraphone photo of my favourite relish du jour. My brother-in-law found it in a Russian shop in Dundee. The main label text is in Russian (nice one, Cyril) and says Adzhika - obviously a cognate of aji, achaar, etc - chilli or spicy pickle in various languages. The text above it is in Georgian script. (Which is where the sauce originates)

The relish itself is a dark, confit-ey reduction of chillis, onions and garlic. It's pleasingly hot, slightly sweet and salty. In Scovilles, it's about on a par with a sambal oelek. It goes especially well with fried eggs but then show me a chilli sauce that doesn't.
I've just discovered that Wikipedia has a category for hot sauces. It doesn't mention this one - but it does have a picture of the retro-cool Harrisa du Cap Bon Phare.

Friday, January 25, 2008

My Pop Soft Spot

This is not exactly admitting to a guilty pleasure - just someone who probably isn't reflective of the bulk of my musical taste.

I've liked Sinead O'Connor ever since I say a small photo of her in the NME - well before I'd heard any of her stuff. It would be trite to say I like her voice*. It's acoustically very similar to Dolores O'Riordon of The Cranberries, but the difference is that you get the impression that every note that comes out of O'Connor's mouth is the one she meant to sing.

Anyway...this is quite clearly the best No 1 single ever. Certainly the best No.1 video.

It's the tear four minutes in that's the killer.

And then there was this - 13 days after she'd torn up a picture of JPII on live TV:

OK...I admit she's made the odd embarassing record...but her Reggae covers collaboration with Sly 'n' Robbie was a lot better than it could have been!

I learnt that lesson - around the same time as I first heard of Sinead O'Connor - when I told a record store employee that Najma Akhtar had a good voice. He told me 'Lots of people have good voices. But she knows how to sing.' Check out Dil Lagaya in her download section.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My favourite shop

I had a birthday trip around the 2nd hand bookshops clustered around Glasgow's Otago Street. There are three: Caledonian Books on Great Western Road (opposite IJ Mellis, Cheesemonger); Thistle Books;...those two are good, and Thistle especially is good at having in stock what you're looking for. But they're a bit too well-organised for my tastes. Best of all is...

It's a little tricky to find if you've never been before, down a shabby wee lane. See this Google Map. Or look out for this landmark:

This is the bibliophile heaven that awaits you inside:

I'm guessing that at one time they tried to categorise and alphabetise everything properly - but they've long since abandoned that idea and gone for the 'Loose Piling' method. There were several minor avalanches when I was in. Useless if you've a particular title in mind, obviously, but book lovers can have a wonderful time mining in the stacks. "Ooh! There's another title that I simply have to have, despite never having heard of it a second ago." And I like the way the floor slopes in different directions and threatens to give way when you walk.

What I bought:

Two titles for my collection of 'Textbooks for languages I have no intention of learning':

  • Colloquial Mongolian
  • Teach Yourself Swahili

Other finds (from there and Thistle) were:

Believe me - I could have bought a lot more!

Oh - I did buy some Lancashire and Cheshire cheese, too.

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Ghost of an Old Machine.

Last week, I bade farewell to a faithful, old companion. I tossed my pre-Cambrian PC out by the bins. It was almost 9 1/2 years old - a record, maybe? - but had served me well. I bought it from a dodgy backstreet outfit. PII 333MHz processor, 64MB RAM, 2GB HD (you can get bigger micro-SD cards nowadays!).

It was something of a George Washington's Axe of a PC, though. Over the years, I'd had to: replace the motherfuckerboard; add a CD-R drive (and then another, when that one wore out), add USB and Ethernet cards - they didn't have USB in those days - although I left the phone modem in, as a curioisity; replace the HD (upgrading to 4GB!) and add an extra one at a whopping 8GB; add more memory; and, most recently, replace the monitor with a better one, picked up for £5 in a car boot sale*.

Then there was the time they power unit failed. I googled (this was before ebay), and it turned out that there were only two of a suitable type in the whole UK...and they just happened to be in Bristol, where I was going the following day, right on my route from the airport. They were in a PC graveyard, a business run by a guy who bought up old equipment and disassembled it in his basement.

When I bought an iPod, In discovered two things. Firstly, iTunes won't run on anything olderv than Windows 2000. Secondly, my machine wouldn't handle XP. This set me off discovering the wonderful world of Ubuntu Linux, to be able to run gtkpod.

Here's what it looked like inside.

As my friend Gunnar once said, "When you become a parent, you have to put the case back on your PC." Wise words. Note the crafty use of duck tape in lieu of a hard drive bay. Marvellous stuff, duck tape. It's what holds the universe together.

The reason for replacement was that my brother-in-law donated one of his old PCs, on the grounds that it was '...too old to handle e-mail. It doesn't even have a modem.' I must tell him about the existence of USB network adapters sometime.

But the spirit lives on! I've stripped all the useful components (eg memory) from the dead machine and stuffed them into the new one. One of these is the IDE cable**. Bizarrely, the old one had a backward one which had to be twisted awkardly to get it into the back of a drive. And I've kept the old monitor, keyboard, mouse and graphics tablet (another car-boot £5).

I've not got a DVD-R working in it yet. I did buy one, from the same dodgy backstreet outfit (£17!) . But I knew it wasn't going tom work as soon as I plugged it in...on account of the smoke. Once I get that sorted, I plan to burn and install Ubuntu and dual-boot with XP.

* Complete this well-known phrase or saying:
"Don't get your knickers in a... boot sale."

** Grey ribbon-y thing that plugs into the back of DVD and CD drives.