Saturday, April 30, 2011

Email scammers

   We've probably all had at least one of those emails. The ones telling you someone died and left a fortune in bank somewhere, and if you give out all your personal details, you can have up to 60% of that fortune.
   I've had 5 in the past week. I'm truly amazed at how many millionaires without family, friends (not even fake ones hoping to get money), or legal wills die leaving millions of dollars unclaimed in banks that all seem to be staffed by unscrupulous people who will happily break the laws of their country to make me, some random internet person they've never met, a millionaire. As long as I give them my home address, phone number, bank account details, and a copy of my photo ID. I'm sure it's completely legit.
  Clearly if I ever become a friendless millionaire, who's somehow lost all my family (maybe I murdered them for life insurance payouts?) and developed a deep distrust of lawyers and wills, I should bury all my money in the backyard. Because while I'm sure you're all very nice people, if I die suddenly, I don't want some random bank person giving you all my money.

   While the "I work at a bank etc." scam is clearly still very popular, the other day I noticed a new one has emerged. And I have to say, I was actually a little impressed at the thought that went into this. I was cleaning out the spam filter at work, and I clicked on an email with a subject line that was just ambiguous enough for me to wonder if it was an actual email that had been caught up by mistake, which does happen sometimes.
   In this new email scam, the person sending the message claims not to work at a bank, or be a deposed prince or whatever. They claim they work for the fraud and/or computer crimes department of whatever kind of police force or FBI/Scotland Yard equivalent their country has. They tell you that all the scammers have been caught, and while going through one of the hard drives your name showed up as someone they potentially tried to get money from. So under their laws you are entitled to millions of dollars in compensation. As long as you give them all your personal details.
   I would hope nobody out there would actually fall for this, but considering people lost money on the previous scams, there probably are few people who will get that email, read it and think "actually someone did try to scam me, and I do deserve compensation, and of course it's reasonable to think some poor African country can afford to give me 2.5 million dollars".

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Things people say...

....that annoy me more than they should.
Maybe. It's entirely possible I'm just the right amount of annoyed and everyone else is wrong. I think I'll choose to believe that.

1: People who say itch when they mean scratch. "I'm itching my leg!" No, you're scratching your leg because it's itchy.

2: People who have forgotten that the word "literally" has an actual meaning and isn't just said for emphatic purposes. "I literally coughed my lungs out." No, you didn't. They're still in your chest cavity where they belong.

3: People who say borrowed instead of loaned. "He borrowed me some money." No, he loaned you some money. You borrowed it.

4: People who say prostrate when they actually mean prostate. Prostate - exocrine gland found in the body, considered to be a part of the male reproductive system. Prostrate - being in a reverentially or submissively prone posture. You are not seeing a Urologist because you have a prostrate problem. Most annoying is when doctors are the ones saying it wrong. They, of all people, should know better.

5: People who say "Be back before {whatever time} or you'll turn into a pumpkin. I know it's from Cinderella (as has been pointed out to me), it's still wrong.  Cinderella didn't turn into a pumpkin, her coach did. So unless you're meaning to imply that the person in question is going to be dragged around by animals, ridden by various people and end the night as a vegetable, don't say it, it's stupid. (If you are meaning to imply that, the people you know are more interesting than the people I know.)

I don't always expect people to talk perfectly. I end sentences with prepositions, I use words that aren't actually words "shirtlessly", "shalln't", but I would like it if people didn't talk stupidly.

Feel free to share your own vocabulary peeves, or tell me why you think I'm wrong in the comments.

Monday, April 25, 2011

TV Stuff: Fringe

Warning! This post will contain spoilers up to the last few episodes of Season 3.

   I love Fringe. It's a Sci-Fi show currently nearing the end of it's 3rd season, and right now I'm finding it as enjoyable to watch as I did The X-Files back in its early seasons.
  I decided to give Fringe a go when it first came out because of the people who created it: J.J. Abrams, the man behind Alias (and also Lost, which I could never get into), and Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci, who wrote/produced for Alias and, more importantly, Hercules and Xena.  The also wrote the screenplay for Transformers, which I mostly enjoyed.

  The imdb blurb for Fringe:
 A television drama centered around a female FBI agent who is forced to work with an institutionalized scientist in order to rationalize a brewing storm of unexplained phenomena. (end of imdb stuff, everything else is mine)

In the 2nd season of Fringe we discovered there was an alternate universe which was falling apart due to massive rifts. They have a Fringe team of their own (some of them doubles of the Fringe people from our universe), and now, well into the 3rd season it looks like only one universe can survive - theirs or ours.

*Right after I'd decided to do this post I discovered on youtube an interview with all the main actors, that included the name of both the actor, and the character they play. So I screencapped the pictures, which technically belong to Fox, but I did the hard work. Really. It's hard to screencap someone who's talking without them looking really weird.*

 Fringe cast, and the characters they play.

  Joshua Jackson. Some of you may remember him from Dawson's Creek. I never actually watched Dawson's (not sure why, I love trashy teen dramas), but I still find myself referring to him as Pacey. 
 In Fringe he is Peter Bishop, son of Walter Bishop. When Walter is needed to help the FBI with "Fringe Events", Peter is bought in to help deal with him. 
 In season 2 we discover that Peter is actually from an alternate universe. The Peter in our universe died, so when Walter found a cure for his illness, he kidnapped the Peter who was sick in the other universe to save him, and then never returned him. This has caused some issues. Also until very recently it was suggested that the fate of the universe might be up to Peter, that whichever universe he chose, would be the one to survive. That may no longer be the case.

  Anna Torv, an Australian actress (go Australia!), playing Agent Olivia Dunham. Olivia is an FBI Agent who was assigned to the weirdness that makes up the Fringe investigations. We discover that she has the ability to cross between universes thanks to some experiments that were done on her as a child, by Walter. When she first met Walter she didn't remember having been experimented on (or meeting Peter once, Peter didn't remember either. It was sweet though, they were both little kids and they met in a field of flowers), but I can understand how someone would want to repress something like that.
It's very handy that Olivia was the one assigned to work with Walter. If it was someone that he hadn't experimented on the show would be very different. <--sarcasm, I know how TV works.
   There is also an Olivia in the other universe, working for their version of Fringe.
   The show has our universe Fringe team refer to her as Fauxlivia, which makes me laugh. She's a lot happier than our Olivia, smiles more, is all flirty and sassy. I know we're supposed to be wanting our Olivia to survive the impending apocalypse but I hope Fauxlivia lives too. I like her.
   In the first half of season 3, Fauxlivia was in our universe working undercover to gather intel, while Olivia was trapped in their universe being convinced she'd had a psychotic breakdown and that she belonged where she was. Fauxlivia clearly had it better since she knew exactly who she was the whole time. 

  John Noble as Walter Bishop. John Noble is another Australian actor. He was born in Port Pirie, where my mother grew up, so my brother and I have been amusing ourselves with the idea that our mother may have crossed paths with this awesome actor in their childhood days.
  Walter comes to help the FBI after something weird happens and it looks like it may be linked to one of his old experiments. Walter has been in a Mental Institution for 17 years and is a little bit crazy, obsessive and forgetful. But still brilliant. In season 2 we find out he is actually missing pieces of his brain, which is why he has a lot of his issues. And he can break your heart in the scenes where he's really sad about things that are happening with Peter, or when he knows that he used to know something, but he can't remember it anymore. I don't know how he hasn't won an Emmy for this role.
 There is also a Walter in the other universe.
  Walternate. (The shows name for him, not mine.) Peter's real dad, wears suits, isn't crazy - that we can see. He's a little bit evil. When our Walter crossed into his universe to take Peter it caused a rift that set off a lot of their Fringe events. Walternate has his Fringe team convinced that our universe is directly attacking theirs and the only way to stop it is to destroy us. Previously he though Peter was the key, but now he may have another way.

  Lance Reddick as Philip Broyles. Broyles is a great character. He's one of those no-nonsense guys who can give a perfect withering glare to anyone wasting his time, but is also a genuinely good guy, who believes in his team. I liked him in both universes and was a little bit sad when other universe Broyles died as an unfortunate side effect of Fauxlivia crossing back over.

 Jasika Nicole as Astrid Farnsworth (that's a very science-y last name she has there). Astrid is an FBI agent who is skilled in linguistics. In our universe she spends most of her time helping out Walter in his lab. He almost never gets her name right (names he's called her include Esther, Astro and Aspirin. When he's extra stressed he calls her Miss). Alternate universe Astrid appears to be a trusted member of the Fringe team, doing actual work, not just helping out and babysitting a mad scientist. Alternate universe Astrid also wears a stupid beret though, so maybe it's not the best place for her.

  Blair Brown as Nina Sharp. Nina runs Massive Dynamic, a company that seems to be behind most of the Fringe events that happen. The company was started by Walter's old lab partner William Bell (played by Leonard Nimoy in guest spots), Nina runs it in his absence. She seems to be slightly evil.

  The alternate universe Fringe team. Seth Gabel as Lincoln Lee, Anna Torv as Olivia (Fauxlivia) and Kirk Acevedo as Charlie Francis. 
We did have a Charlie Francis in our universe, he was killed by a shapeshifter. 
  I not-so-secretly hope that Lincoln and Charlie survive the apocalypse too. 

   I find it interesting that even though the alternate universe is currently in a lot more danger, the Fringe agents have more work, and that universe has no peanut m&ms, sheep (no roast lamb!) or U2, the alternate universe agents seem a lot happier than our agents. They joke, and flirt and kid around and their interactions can be a lot more fun to watch.

  A lot of shows these days do musical episodes. Fringe is no different. In season 2 they did a musical episode called Brown Betty. The plot device was Walter telling a story to Olivia's niece Ella. It was a detective story set in 1940.
 I leave you with pictures from Brown Betty.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cooking With No-One: Anzac Biscuits

   Every year I end up making stacks of Anzac Biscuits. Even though I don't actually care for them. (I'm not a fan of oats or coconut, and I hate the taste of real butter. I would be happier if we honoured our soldiers with choc-chip mars bar cookies).
  The other day, after chatting about the Anzac biscuits with someone from work, well not much of a chat really, it was basically them saying "you are making them this year, right?" and me saying "yes", I was wondering why we use those particular ingredients. A quick session of googling and I found a page that said the oats were because mothers, wives and girlfriends of soldiers were worried that the rations weren't nutritious enough, and the other ingredients were because it could sometimes take up to two months for care packages to make it to the fighting men, so the biscuits had to be able to stay edible over a long period of time. Golden syrup was the binding agent because eggs were scarce during the war.

  Today I'll be sharing my recipe for Anzac biscuits.


   2 cups rolled oats          2 cups plain flour        2 cups desiccated coconut
   1 and a 1/2 cups sugar (recipe calls for caster sugar, I often just use plain white sugar, because I've forgotten to buy the other kind. The biscuits still turn out fine.)
  250g butter                    4tbs golden syrup       2tsp bicarb soda
  4tbs boiling water

 Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees celsius. Lightly grease baking trays.

 Step 2: Sift flour into a large bowl. Add oats, coconut and sugar. Stir to combine.
Step 3: In a small, heavy-based saucepan, melt the butter and golden syrup over a low-medium heat.

Step 4: Mix the bicarb soda with the boiling water in a small bowl, then add to butter-golden syrup mix. The mix should change colour slightly and look all frothy. My picture does not show the frothiness very well.
Step 5: Pour the liquid mix into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Step 6: Shape the mixture into small balls and place on baking tray. I'll take a moment here to say, I swear my trays aren't dirty they are just old, and half the non-stick coating has worn off. That's why it looks like that.
Step 7: This is one of the most important steps - squash the biscuits flat. A lot of people like to leave them as balls (heh), because they are going to spread out anyway, but I find when they are left that way, in order to make sure they cook properly in the middle, the outside ends up far too hard.
             If you squash them flat, they stay nicely crisp on the outside without getting hard, and chewy on the inside, while still being cooked through. And because they will still spread a bit, you end up with giant biscuits.
Step 8: Baking time! I won't give an ultra-specific time because all ovens cook differently. So bake for around 12-14 minutes, until nicely golden-brown. It's fine if they are still a tiny bit soft on top when you take them out of the oven as they will firm up over the next few minutes.
*Either I have a dirty mind or baking really does have a fair amount of vaguely pornagraphic sounding phrases.*
 Leave biscuits on tray for around 2 minutes after taking out of oven, then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.
Step 9: Store in airtight container. Anzac biscuits will actually last for quite a few weeks if stored properly, although they may get eaten before that becomes an issue.
Step 10: Give some Anzac biscuits to the friend who has threatened to murder me in my sleep if I don't make her a batch of biscuits.
**step 10 may apply only to me.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cooking With No-One

   I have the world's easiest meatloaf recipe. It only has 6 ingredients and everyone who tries it loves it. Vegetarians and vegans would be appalled of course, but I respect their dietary choices, as I expect them to respect mine, and I have never tried to force one of my veg friends to give it a go.

   If you're interested in giving it a try, the ingredients are as follows:

    1kg beef mince
    1kg sausage mince
    1 egg, beaten
    1 cup fine breadcrumbs
    1 cup stuffing mix
    garlic  - as much as you like (I usually use about 10 cloves), finely minced.

How to make:
    Mix the two different types of mince together. It's easiest using your hands, and you need to mix it until you can't tell there were two different types used. If it's not mixed properly you end up with weird blobby bits after it's cooked, and it doesn't taste quite right. I learned this the hard way, the first time I made it.
   Mix the beaten egg and garlic together, then add to mince. It will feel kind of gross and slimy while you're doing this. That is normal.
   Add breadcrumbs and stuffing mix. Mix thoroughly.

   Place in foil-lined loaf pan. Cover top of pan with foil. Cook in pre-heated oven at 180 degrees celsius for 1 hour. Turn out onto flat tray, return to oven and cook for another 30 minutes to finish off and brown on the outside.
   Just out of the oven. I swear it tastes better than it looks right here.

   Meatloaf slices on my pretty plate.
   Served with crispy roast potatoes.

   This recipe makes enough mixture to make 2 meatloaves (great for sandwiches the next day) or 1 meatloaf and a bunch of hamburger patties which is what I usually do.

   This time I tried something different with the second half of the mixture:

   Puff pastry meatloaf sausage rolls.

Friday, April 15, 2011

What is wrong with some people

An American clothing company ran this picture in it's most recent catalogue.
The woman is the company's president and creative director, the boy is her five year old son.
I looked at this picture and saw a nice mother/son moment, both people clearly happy and enjoying each other's company.

Some people, including all the major news networks in America looked at this picture and saw only the pink nail polish the boy has on his toenails.
Seasoned reporters, supposedly educated, tasked with bringing people actual news stories, apparently felt this was worthy of criticism and then started making judgements about the sexuality of the child and the intentions of his mother.
The mildest quotes called the nail polish "gender-bending", others called the pink polish "a clear attack on masculinity" and in one case "a propaganda campaign for transgender children".

Apparently pink nail polish on a little boy is a clear sign that he will grow up to be either gay, transgendered, or a cross dresser, and OMG! his mother is encouraging this.

Firstly, there is nothing wrong with being gay, transgendered or a cross dresser, and if he is any of those things, I would hope his mother would still love and support him.

And secondly, right now, he is a five year old boy, he likes pink, and he's having fun, and his mother should be applauded for letting him paint his nails whatever colour he wants rather than having a gender-panic freak out and not letting him do it.

And all those people who are having a problem with this need to chill the fuck out, and start reporting on some actual news stories.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Mini food review: I tried these so you don't have to

Cheeseburger flavoured Twisties.

Have you ever bought a McDonald's cheeseburger and then not eaten it right away? Instead it sits in your fridge for at least 10 hours, until you remember it's there, and decide that since you're hungry but can't be fucked actually cooking anything you'll just eat the cheeseburger. And you don't bother heating it up first you just eat it cold.

I've actually done this because although I'm a very good cook, I'm really lazy and have appalling eating habits. 

Anyway that cheeseburger scenario from above...that is exactly what a cheeseburger flavoured Twistie tastes like.

I don't recommend them.

Friday, April 8, 2011


   Marriage. I support marriage for anyone who wants to get married. As long as you're over 18 and the person you want to marry also wants to marry you, then you should be free to get married to whomever you want.
   However, I don't see myself ever getting married. I don't like the idea of it for myself, it's just not my thing.
   So, maybe, my issue that I'm having right now is something I don't fully understand, because I've never dreamed of having the perfect wedding day...
   My issue: I am saddened by the number of women who seem to think that their wedding day should be the best day of their life. Because really, if you think the day of the wedding should be the best day of your life, what does that say about your expectations for all the days of marriage that follow the wedding.
   Why would you intentionally set yourself up for so many years of disappointment. Wouldn't it be better to think that the wedding will be a great day, but every day that follows, when you're with the person you love, should be, at the very least, equal to that, but hopefully better?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Needles and Lollipops

   Today I got my annual influenza vaccination.  Because I work around sick people, staff get vaccinated free, in the hopes that we won't get sick and pass germs onto people with shattered immune systems.
  So, I got fluvaxed. It was done by a third year nursing student who is on his first hospital placement, and he did an excellent job. It didn't hurt at all.
  Afterwards I got a lollipop. We always get a lollipop. The first few years we got Starburst fruit lollipops, whose wrappers have a picture of whichever flavour fruit the lollipop was supposed to taste like.
  Last year we got chupa-chups, which had the flavour clearly written on the covering.

 This year we got these:
It didn't say anywhere on there what it was, but from the picture on the top,
I'm assuming it tastes like Australia.
I love my country, and I'm proud to be an Australian, but I'm not entirely sure that's a taste I want to try.

Huh. Turns out Australia tastes like a toffee apple lolly. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I don't know why I keep buying them...

    Pajamas. I love pajamas. I see them hanging in the stores, and they always look so comfy and cute. These days PJs are a lot more interesting than when I was a kid, and some stores have whole mix and match ranges, so instead of buying one set with a matching top and bottom, you can buy separates instead. Excellent way of getting us to spend more money.
  So I buy them. I see some that I like and I shell out the cost, and after I get them home, I wear them once. And then I go back to what I always sleep in: track pants and an old, soft Dallas Cowboys hoodie that The Mysterious N gave me about 8 years ago.
   The pajamas go in a drawer and stay there, neglected until some charity does a clothing drive, and then they get passed on. Every time I buy PJs I know this is going to happen, and yet, somehow I just can't help myself.