Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Books, Fractals, Secret Rooms, Snow
I forgot to mention, yesterday, I have finished The Riven Kingdom by Karen Miller, it was a great read, I thoroughly enjoyed it. On enquiry I find that in fact the third book, Hammer of God, is actually published, in Australia. It will not be available in North America til January, boo hoo, I want to read it NOW. I want to know how they defeat the hordes of Mijak. The main character of the book I have just finished has done, or is about to do, some silly things which will make life difficult for her in the last book!!!!!! I watched a fascinating programme on Nova last night, all about fractal geometry, yes, really. An absolutely enthralling programme. I am not going to pretend I understood it completely, but I certainly got a very interesting grasp on what it was all about and will watch it again - you can read about the programme here and find a link to the video. Because a man called Benoit Mandelbrot wrote a book about fractals, a computer scientist discovered a lot about making graphics on computers. That was in the early days. Now they are using the fractal theories to discover all kinds of things, from natural history to the working of human bodies. I couldn't begin to explain it to you but I can highly recommend you watch the video - you will need an hour to spare. I sat completely enthralled. The picture on the left is known as the Mandelbrot Set. The basic fact is that these patterns repeat virtually ad infinitum although you can't see them by eye, the computer can. The mathematics couldn't even be worked out properly without computers as it would take forever to do the calculations. They showed possible ways of following the blood flow of cancerous and non cancerous tissues in the body by using this geometry on ultra sound pictures. Plus by cutting down a tree (it was dying anyway) in a forest, taking the appropriate measurements and using fractal geometry, they can calculate how much CO2 a given forest can absorb. This morning there was a whole suite of rooms which had been built secretly under the Greenbrier Hotel, Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It turns out they were built as a fall out shelter and could accomodate the whole government. Everything is down there that could be needed, fully stocked kitchens, bunk beds made up and ready to be used, TV studios, with a picture of the White House on the wall which might have been rubble if the government were down there!! The rooms were behind bomb blast doors and the majority of the hotel staff did NOT know the rooms were there. There were four men on duty in a room with a closet which turned out to be one of the entries. The men were supposedly TV repairmen for the hotel although their actual job was to maintain the secret shelter. Greenbrier is a hotel patronised by royals and presidents by the way. This morning we woke up to the white stuff all over the grass and roofs. Not, thank goodness, settled on the roads so driving is fine. Yesterday I was listening to BBC Cumbria (UK), a friend is a presenter on that station and I caught their weather forecast. Didn't sound much better than ours. Certainly a lack of visibility on the fells, that is very hilly country. The area is known as the Lake District. Never did get to visit that part of England, it is supposed to be very beautiful. Last night we had shrimp gumbo for supper, I had the gumbo prepared in the freezer and just peeled some shrimp to cook in the heated sauce. It was good. I have been seeing several Polenta recipes on TV lately, something we have eaten at home quite a bit. In fact, you can buy tubes of ready made polenta in the grocery store, although it is actually fairly simple to make. It is very much underused and makes a delicious change from the usual starch sources or potatoes and rice. Here is a recipe from the Three and Four Ingredient Cookbook. Dolcelatte is an Italian cheese and absolutely delicious, its name literally means soft milk. You can substitute several things if you can't find it. I have seen Roquefort and Camembert mentioned, also Mascarpone, but don't buy the stuff with a "gum" preservative in it as the gum makes the cheese sweet which is no good for something like this, OK if you are going to make a Tiramisu. Creamy Polenta with Dolcelatte Soft-cooked polenta is a tasty accompaniment to meat dishes. It can also be enjoyed on its own as a hearty snack. Serves 4-6 3 ¾ Cups milk 1 cup instant polenta 4 oz Dolcelatte cheese from the store cupboard 4Tbs extra virgin olive oil salt and ground black pepper. Pour the milk into a large pan and bring to the boil, then add a good pinch of salt. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in the polenta in a slow, steady strem, stirring constantly to combine. Return the pan to a low heat and simmer gently, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the olive oil. Spoon the polenta into a serving dish and crumble the cheese over the top. Season with ground black peper and serve immediately. Have a great day.