When the computer won’t start…

Don’t panic!

That’s what I said to myself at 8am this morning when I turned my desktop computer on, and it promptly turned itself off again.

Actually, if I’m to be completely honest, I said quite a few things, most of which only had four letters, but let’s not get too precious about it. I was panicked, and my second thought was…how on earth would I live without the internet? And my writing? And my music? Oh god…and no ESO?

Then I thought to touch the top of the computer, near where the CPU is located. It was warm. It should not have been warm, not after less than a minute of being switched on.

And this is when the baby geek in me stepped up and said, “Dust.”

Baby Geek was right. There was dust all over the top of the computer. Not surprising really, considering that it sits on the floor, surrounded by small, hairy beasts:

Those two small beasts, plus Harry, another small feline beast, share the office with me, and they all shed. And if that wasn’t enough, my window faces north. When it was open over the summer, it let in a lot of smoke and dust, all of which would have been sucked into the desktop via the fans [internal] designed to keep it cool.

For those who don’t know, the average desktop computer is air cooled. Mine has two large fans located under those grills, which circulate air inside the box. I also have a small fan that sits on top of the CPU [the brain of the computer] and two more that sit on top of the GPU [graphics processing unit or video card]. Those two units are the most critical components of a pc, and if they overheat, the computer will automatically shut down.

I knew all this, but I still wondered, would this be the time when it wasn’t the pc overheating? If it was something more serious, how would I get it fixed?

After fortifying myself with a second cup of coffee, I set up the vacuum cleaner and my paint brushes and got to work. For those who are interested, this is a post I wrote some time ago about how to safely clean the inside of a desktop computer. If any of you are in the same predicament, please read the post carefully. You do NOT want to just stick the nozzle of the vacuum cleaner inside the guts of a pc. That would be a very, very bad idea!

To cut a long story short, I cleaned the computer, and it started up like a dream. Now, it’s purring away as if it had never tried to give me heart failure. Beast

I hope your start to the day was better than mine. Have fun and stay well. 🙂

Meeks


Corporations and Social Responsibility

My thanks to Scottie for introducing me to Robert Reich via this video:

My disillusionment with corporations began back in the early 80’s when I learned how Microsoft became ‘great’. Then, in the early 2000’s I began researching genetic engineering and discovered what another big ‘M’ had done to maximize its profits.

More recently, it’s been Facebook and Google et al. I still have a lingering fondness for Amazon, but that’s only because I’m a reader and a writer. And of course, let’s not forget the big financial institutions right here in Australia.

To say that I’m disillusioned with corporations is an understatement, and yet, I was still surprised by the Reich video. Something about the sheer size of these behemoths amplifies everything that’s cruel, callous and vicious in the human psyche.

Stopping corporations from becoming so big and powerful won’t make them paragons of virtue, but it will stop the effects of their bad behaviour from poisoning society. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll allow the law to deal with criminal elements more effectively.

At the moment, these corporations are not only ‘too big to fail’, they’re also too big to prosecute. Something really does have to give.

Meeks


Covid-19, worrying developments

If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably reached a point where you’d like to forget about Covid-19 altogether, so sorry, but these developments could be important.

As always, my source is Dr John Campbell. You can find his latest Youtube video here. The three things that worry me from this video concern:

  • the implications of skin colour
  • the new inflammatory syndrome in children
  • the results of Germany’s cautious re-opening

Skin Colour

If you’ve watched Dr John’s videos before there’s a good chance that you’ve already heard his views on the role of vitamin D in possibly easing the severity of Covid-19. As people with darker skin produce vitamin D more slowly, he has been advocating that they be tested for vitamin D deficiency and prescribed supplements if necessary.

As someone with olive skin who was tested for vitamin D some years ago – and found to be deficient – I’ve made it a point to get out into the sunshine more. The connection to race though, that has made me feel a little uncomfortable. I hate racism in all its forms because I had a tiny taste of it as a kid in ‘White Australia’.

But…this statistical data from the UK is too stark to ignore:

The graph shows data that has been adjusted for socio economic factors and other risk factors that could skew the results. Despite this, the stats show that there is a continuum of increased risk based on skin colour. Basically, people of mixed race are just as likely to die of Covid-19 as the control group, which is white people.

From there, however, the likelihood of dying increases as skin colour darkens. People with black skin colour are shown to be twice as likely to die of Covid-19 as white people. And this is the graph that has been adjusted for other, known risk factors.

There may be some other, unknown risk factor at work, but if there is the slightest chance that skin colour, and hence vitamin D production is involved, then taking vitamin D could save lives.

There has been well documented research done on vitamin D and the effect it may have on protecting cells from viruses:

‘Vitamin D has long been recognized as essential to the skeletal system. Newer evidence suggests that it also plays a major role regulating the immune system, perhaps including immune responses to viral infection. Interventional and observational epidemiological studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may confer increased risk of influenza and respiratory tract infection.’

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3308600/

There is also a lot of research that shows the health impacts that result from a lack of various other vitamins. The following are just a few of the best known ones:

Vitamin K

‘Vitamin K deficiency in adults is rare but does occur in infants. The main symptom of a vitamin K deficiency is excessive bleeding caused by an inability to form blood clots.’

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320394

Vitamin C

Scurvy is a disease resulting from a lack of vitamin C (ascorbic acid).’

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scurvy

Vitamin A

‘The major cause of blindness in children worldwide is xerophthalmia caused by vitamin A deficiency.’

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10643184/

I’m no expert on nutrition and vitamins, but it seems clear to me that vitamin D may save the lives of those most at risk. If that’s true, it must be acknowledged and used.

Inflammatory syndrome in children

So far, this new syndrome is quite rare – about 20 cases in the UK and 64 in the US – but it has been associated with Covid-19 so parents should be aware of it. The screenshot below was taken from Dr John’s video:

No one knows exactly what connection this new syndrome has to Covid-19, but any connection is worrying.

The syndrome has been named: Paediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome.

Re-opening in Germany

As Australia is also looking to cautiously ease the lockdown that’s protected us so well, I found the results from Germany less heartening than Dr John. The statistics shown are for only the first ten days since the lockdown in Germany was officially eased:

Even if every German citizen immediately raced out and kissed everyone they met, the incubation period for Covid-19 is between 2 and 9 days, give or take. As such, the numbers of new cases are not likely to rise exponentially for a week or two yet. In other words, I don’t think we’ve seen the true effect of the easing in Germany. Not yet.

I may be overly pessimistic, but I’m seriously scared that money, and human impatience, will give rise to a second wave of the virus, a second wave that will be significantly worse than the first.

During the Spanish Flu pandemic, the second wave was caused by a mutation in the original virus that made it much more virulent:

‘Reported cases of Spanish flu dropped off over the summer of 1918, and there was hope at the beginning of August that the virus had run its course. In retrospect, it was only the calm before the storm. Somewhere in Europe, a mutated strain of the Spanish flu virus had emerged that had the power to kill a perfectly healthy young man or woman within 24 hours of showing the first signs of infection.’

https://www.history.com/news/spanish-flu-second-wave-resurgence

The Covid-19 virus does not appear to be mutating yet, but the more people that are infected, the greater the likelihood that one of them will host a mutated version of the virus.

Scientists all over the world are trying to develop a vaccine that will stop the spread of Covid-19, but they’re not there yet. They need more time.

I believe it’s up to us, and our governments, to do everything in our power to slow the spread of this virus. Not just to reduce the number of people dying from it, but also to reduce the chance that it will mutate. If the Spanish Flu is anything to go by, that mutation will not be benign.

I truly hate to be a Cassandra, but I’m really scared that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Stay well,
Meeks


Cookies and Milk

The title of this post should have been ‘Coffee and Cake’, but we made the Triple Choc Chocolate biscuits last night, and it was too late for coffee, so…

Ahem. The Offspring and I adore these biscuits because they really are made with three lots of chocolate. There’s cocoa and melted chocolate in the biscuit dough, and then there are lumps of chocolate in each biscuit as well [the recipe is at the end of this post].

You can see how gooey and melted and divine those lumps of chocolate are here:

and here:

and here:

That’s why these biscuits are at their most divine straight from the oven. They are delicious cold as well, but not quite as delicious. 🙂

Now, a word about sweetness. If you love super sweet, commercial biscuits, you will not love these triple choc biscuits. There is sugar in the biscuit dough, but not a huge amount, and the chocolate is unsweetened, dark chocolate. The cocoa is unsweetened, Dutch cocoa as well so the overall effect is not overly sweet.

There, you have been warned. For everyone else, I hope you enjoy the following recipe. 🙂

Provenance: Vogue Entertaining & Travel, June/July 1999.

[We only ever make half quantities at a time so I’ve provided the cut down quantities in brackets. They’re not exactly half quantities, but they work.]

Ingredients

1 1/4 cups plain or all purpose flour [1/2 a cup and a ‘bit’]
2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch cocoa [1 tablespoon ]
1 teaspoon baking powder [1/2 a teaspoon]
3/4 of a teaspoon salt [1/4 teaspoon]
500 gm good quality bittersweet dark chocolate [250 gm]
125 gm unsalted butter [60 gm]
1/2 cup sugar [1/4 cup sugar]
3 large eggs [add 1 whole egg, then crack a second egg into a bowl, beat it and add half of the beaten egg only]

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 180o C or 356 F [make it a little less if using fan forced]
  2. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper
  3. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt
  4. Melt 3/4 of the dark chocolate [about 190 gm if making half quantities] with the butter in a small saucepan – don’t let it burn!
  5. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the sugar [I let the mixture cool a tiny bit before the next step]
  6. Stir in the eggs, one at a time until well mixed
  7. Add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined
  8. Cover the dough with cling wrap and chill for up to 1 hour
  9. Remove teaspoon sized balls of dough and place on the baking sheet, about 3.5 cm or 2 inches apart [the balls will expand a lot as they bake]
  10. Push small [or larger] chips of the dark chocolate into each biscuit [we like big gooey lumps so tend to use 1 large piece in instead of 2 or 3 smaller ones]
  11. Bake in the middle of a hot oven for 10 minutes or until just done. I set a timer for 8 minutes, turn the sheet, and reset the timer for another 2 minutes. The biscuits should feel slightly squishy to the touch. This is what you want as they will harden as they cool. If you leave them in for even 2 minutes longer, they’ll be hard and biscuity instead of soft and chewy.
  12. Allow the biscuits to cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. That’s the official line. The unofficial line is that you can eat them as soon as they don’t burn your fingers….

Have a wonderful day, and don’t eat the Triple Choc Biscuits all at once!

cheers
Meeks


Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #SciFi Innerscape Omnibus: Books 1 to 3 of the Innerscape trilogy by A.C. Flory

Just checked my email and discovered that Sally has the Innerscape books in the Cafe. -dance- Please pop in and say hello. There are a lot of very talented writers there so I’m thrilled to be included. 🙂

Meeks-doing-a-happy-dance

Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

Delighted to welcome another author, A.C. Flory to the Cafe and Bookstore with her books. I am featuring the Innerscape Omnibus: Books 1 to 3 of the Innerscape trilogywhich was released on April 12th 2020.

About the Innerscape omnibus

Innerscape: a virtual paradise where the terminally ill live out their lives in young, pain free bodies.

But Miira Tahn discovers paradise is an illusion. An assassin stalks the Burning Man.

Lies masquerade as truth.

Together with her friends, Miira plunges into a deadly game of cat and mouse.

If she loses, she loses everything.

Her life – Those she loves – All of Innerscape.

One of the reviews for Nabatea (Innerscape Book 3)

D. W. Peach 5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome sci-fi series

Oooh, I loved this series, and now that it’s over, I’m suffering from a book hangover.

Nabatea is the final book in the Innerscape…

View original post 453 more words


Teacup Fairy Gardens — My OBT

Teacup Fairy Gardens — My OBT

These tiny gardens were just too gorgeous not to share. 🙂


New Book Page

Just a quick post to let you know that I’ve changed my book page. Instead of listing links to my books on non-Amazon sites, I’ve simply provided links to those books which are free for download as epubs [suitable for Kobo etc].

As before, the free books are available via the sync.com site and no registration or sign-in is required. Click the ‘Free Books by acflory’ tab at the top of this page to access the links.

I currently have two ebooks available for free download:

  • Miira, book 1 of Innerscape
  • The Vintage Egg

Please feel free to download both of them.

Okay, that’s it. I’ve done my admin., vacuumed and mopped all the floors, washed and disinfected surfaces, soothes disgruntled cats and generally been very productive…now it’s time for play!

cheers
Meeks


A song for these times… lol

It’s late. I have to go to bed. But first…listen and laugh. 😀

night night
Meeks


Advances in wearable tech

I know that most of you won’t be interested in the technical side of this article: https://www.physics-astronomy.org/2020/04/mini-generator-cheaply-converts-heat.html but it could have really important implications for how we use technology in the future.

At the moment, wearable technology is limited by the need to power the device[s] :

a) without bulky batteries, and
b) without those batteries quickly going flat

We could wear little solar panel hats; they could charge the batteries as we walk around. But only outside, and only when there’s some sunshine. Plus there’s the added problem of fashion. Hats simply aren’t ‘in’ at the moment.

Or…we could use the heat of our own bodies to generate power. Mammals maintain a constant body temperature so we could have a constant source of power to run our wearable devices – no need for batteries at all.

Using body heat to generate power isn’t a new idea, but the research described in the article offers a new, more efficient way of doing so. If the researchers can make it work at a cost efficient price, we could be wearing our computers and communications devices within twenty years. Or less.

Let’s just hope that fashion and function go hand in hand. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Coffee and cake, 28th April, 2020

Coffee with toasted cheese and bacon bread

I was tempted to change the title to ‘Coffee and Toast’ but decided to go with consistency instead. 🙂

I’d like to start by thanking Robbie for the bread recipe. I had to make a couple of substitutions, but the end result was a million times better than I’d hoped. You can find the recipe at the end of this post.

And now for the cup and saucer. Back in the dim and distant past, my Mum gave me two cup-and-saucer sets. They’re Lustreware and quite beautiful.

Ever since then, I’ve been haunting op. shops [second hand opportunity shops] to add to my collection. I now have quite a few beautiful pieces. Most are not Lustreware but they are lovely in their own ways, so I thought I’d give each set its own 5 minutes of fame. Ta dah:

As always, apologies for the photography.

If you look at the bottom of the cup you’ll see a mark that says ‘Hand painted, Nippon.’

Nippon was the old name for Japan, but I can’t imagine that a Japanese company would put a mark written in English on its product, so…? No idea. If there are any experts out there, I’d love to know the story behind this piece.

And now for the bread recipe. I’ll start by saying I’ve rarely baked anything this easy. Plus, the recipe is most forgiving of substitutions. And finally, I love the fact that I almost always have the ingredients in my pantry and fridge.

Robbie’s Cheese & Olive bread [my substitutions are in italics]

Ingredients
500 grams self raising flour (I didn’t have SR flour so I used cake/plain flour and added 15 ml (3 teaspoons) of baking powder);
2 cups (500 ml) grated yellow cheese (I used strong gouda) [I only had mozzarella so used that, not cheesy enough but okay];
5 ml (1 teaspoon) salt;
2 cups (500 ml) plain yogurt; and
200 grams of black olives, drained, stoned and halved [I didn’t have olives so used 2 rashers of middle bacon cut into small squares]
Method
Sieve the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Add the grated cheese and olives. Make a well in the centre and add the yogurt. Mix until it forms a sticky dough. [I found that I couldn’t incorporate all the dry ingredients without making the dough too tough so about 2 tbspns of dry mix left over. I used thick pot set Jalna yoghurt which may have been less ‘wet’]

Place in a prepared loaf tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes at a temperature of 190 degrees Celsius. [I used fan bake which may have been a little too hot. As each oven is different, check the bread before the 50 minutes just in case].

This is what the loaf looked like when it came out of the oven:

The loaf is a tiny bit over done, but I love a good crust so I’m very happy with both the taste and the texture.

There are many things I miss not doing during this pandemic, but the one thing I miss eating is nice bread. We’ve never liked commercial sliced bread, the Woolworths bakery bread is…not that nice, and my home made efforts have been a little disappointing. This is the first time I’ve managed to reproduce a type of bread I used to buy once a week, as a treat.

Do you have a special treat that makes you happy? Please share in comments. And remember, it doesn’t have to be DIY!

cheers
Meeks


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