Archive for curry

a journal of the plague, sword, and famine year [with avocados]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 28, 2023 by xi'an

Read two books by Alix E. Harrow, A Spindle Splintered and A Mirror Mended, which are modern takes on Sleeping Beauty and Snow White. Rather hilarious for their tone and dry humour, if rather YAs… And Undercover, a novella by Tasmyn Muir. Rather well-build steampunk around a moving city and… zombies. Plus a new volume of Blake and Mortimer, a gift from my son, which is a come-back to more standard scenarios in the series, set in the 1950’s between Berlin and the USSR. Hence much enjoyable. Not at all like These Violent Delights, by Chloe Gong, which I could not complete reading. I bought this book last Fall in Brussels‘ English bookstore, in the horror section shelf!, attracted by the prospect of a gang war in 1926 Shanghai. But the story is terrible, the style appalling, and the characters laughable, the proclaimed connection with Romeo and Juliet making little sense…

Made heaps of guacamole from the 2kg of local avocados we brought back from Martinique. Still unclear about cooking with the accompanying fresh tamarind box. Ice cream, as the flavour on sale at the Fort-de-France airport?! If not tamarind, we had a great (or slow) time eating our way through Martinique, incl. the highly original Habitation Céron at the Northern tip of the island and its most unusual mix of flavours.

Watched The Pale Blue Eye, by Scott Cooper, which stemmed from the appealing concept of involving the then-West-Point-Cadet Edgar Allan Poe in a crime inquiry, but flopped rather miserably with unbearably slow dialogues, a ludicrous incursion of dark magic, and a terrible ending. And both Knives Out, Glass Onion (#2) being much better in my opinion. Craig’s acting is superb (with his Southern accent), the scenario twists most enjoyable, if far from realistic, and the satire of tech billionaires a balm. The earlier Knives Out is too cluedo-y, with the final twist revealed way too early, and too much sympathy for one character. (But having Jamie Lee Curtis acting as a redeeming feature!) I also finished All quiet on the Western Front, which somehow disappointed me, maybe because E.M. Remarque’s book is one of my favourites. And I could not entirely recover the friendship bond between the troopers that was central to the story, presumably due to lengthy gory scenes or the accumulation of woes in the final hours before Armistice. The last third of the film stalls, somehow bogged into the prospect of the coming disaster as the troopers are in the hellish landscape of the front lines. The heavily stressed opposition between the muck of the trenches and the refinery of the Compiègne wagons (despite the stale croissants!) was quite unecessary, as Remarque’s point was to stay away from the higher spheres (as opposed to his later books, like Drei Kameraden). [The Guardian of 13 Feb features a highly interesting interview of Lesley Paterson,  the Scott screenwriter of the film who not only spent 16 years making All Quiet &tc., but also financed it through triathlon winnings!]

a journal of the plague, sword, and famine year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2023 by xi'an

Read over the last week of 2022 and in the plane to India, three books by Katherine Addison, The Goblin Emperor and both volumes of The Cemeteries of Amalo. While the steampunk side is very light, the universe is rather well-conceived and the stories compelling, esp. the duology that follows a priest able to connect with recently deceased people, towards seeking murderers or scone recipes. Too much introspection and self-pity, too many descriptions of itineraries in an imaginary city, unnecessarily complicated names, but pleasant nonetheless, with a fascination with (imaginary) teas and tea-houses. I also read All the Horses of Iceland, which turned out to be an historical novel on an early Icelander’s trip to Mongolia and his bringing home the ancestors of the famed horses of Iceland. Very well-written and full of historical tidbits.

While visiting Ivan Vautier’s restaurant in Caen with a scallop menu was a continuation of a family (almost) tradition, I cooked very little over the period except for making my own garam masala from spices I bought in India. Put to use in weekly fish curries. I also tried to bake dosa (ದೋಸೆ), this very thin rice-flour crêpe ubiquitous in South India, but it ended up closer to a galette!

Watched most of The Good Detective, a rather conventional Korean TV series (meaning the same police stations, endless shots of police stations from outside, post-work dinner parties, intricate blackmail situations, widespread corruption, massive conflicts of interest, as in series earlier watched). But enough originality to keep me interested. And second-watched Belfast in the plane to India, a black-and-white film by Kenneth Branagh, focusing on a Protestant family during “The Troubles” and sounding (!) rather engaging, if possibly soppy (as sound was off).

a journal of the plague year [grey & dry ‘nuary reviews]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 27, 2021 by xi'an

Read a Danish novel Ø by Siri Ranva Hjelm Jacobsen, directly translated as island in other languages (incl. French), which was a b’day gift from my wife, a book about the longing of uprooted Faroeses for their island,  rather than about the mathematical meaning of the empty set!, and the connection between a young third generation young woman and her grand-mother’s story. Very well written, with a side entry on Faroese recent history, incl. the British occupation during WWII, just before they invaded Iceland. (And feeding my hopes to visit the Faroe in a near and brighter future!)

Cooked more (Flemmish) red and (curried) white cabbage. Moved to baking spelt bread with spelt yeast as it takes less than ten minutes of actual work!  Attempted an Ethiopian meal with key wat (beef) stew,  a vegetable version, and injera (pancakes) when I realised the teff cereal could be replaced with buckwheat, a basic staple in Breton households! But the injera tasted and looked more like a galette, so this was not the real thing… Nonetheless a nice family meal.Watched the second instalment of The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared, The 101-Year-Old Man Who Skipped Out on the Bill and Disappeared, which is the straight continuation of the former if not as funny. (And not directly linked to the books.)

Read Time of Contempt, second volume in the Witcher’s novels. Not particularly impressive, with a lot of infodump chitchat, an almost absent Yennefer, a (thankfully short-lived) threat of the return of the magicians’ boarding school!, a gratuitous (?) visit by the Wild Hunt myth, some Star War inspired monster, an incomprehensible and highly predictable coup on the magicians’ council, and a teenage gang (in a Mark Lawrence rewriting Lord of the Flies spirit!), an inexplicable collapse of the balance of powers between the kingdoms. And I found the rendering of the rape scene at the end of the book most disturbing…

checking for finite variance of importance samplers

Posted in R, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , on June 11, 2014 by xi'an

divergenceOver a welcomed curry yesterday night in Edinburgh I read this 2008 paper by Koopman, Shephard and Creal, testing the assumptions behind importance sampling, which purpose is to check on-line for (in)finite variance in an importance sampler, based on the empirical distribution of the importance weights. To this goal, the authors use the upper tail  of the weights and a limit theorem that provides the limiting distribution as a type of Pareto distribution

\dfrac{1}{\beta}\left(1+\xi z/\beta \right)^{-1-1/\xi}

over (0,∞). And then implement a series of asymptotic tests like the likelihood ratio, Wald and score tests to assess whether or not the power ξ of the Pareto distribution is below ½. While there is nothing wrong with this approach, which produces a statistically validated diagnosis, I still wonder at the added value from a practical perspective, as raw graphs of the estimation sequence itself should exhibit similar jumps and a similar lack of stabilisation as the ones seen in the various figures of the paper. Alternatively, a few repeated calls to the importance sampler should disclose the poor convergence properties of the sampler, as in the above graph. Where the blue line indicates the true value of the integral.

5 Munros, enough for a day…

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, University life with tags , , , , , , on June 2, 2014 by xi'an

BenLawersTaking advantage of cheap [early] Sunday morning flights to Edinburgh, I managed to bag  a good hiking day (and three new Munros) within my trip to Scotland. I decided about the hike in the plane, picking the Lawers group as one of the closest to Edinburgh… The fair sequence of Munros in the group (5!) made it quite appealing [for a Munro-bagger], until I realised I would have to walk on a narrow road with no side-walk for 6km to complete the loop. Hence I decided on turning back after the third peak (An Stuc, recently promoted to Munro-fame!), which meant re-climbing the first two Munros from the “other” side, with a significant addition to the total differential (+1500m).  The weather was traditional Scottish, with plenty of clouds, gales and gusts, a few patches of blue sky, and a pleasant drizzle for the last hour. It did not seem to bother the numerous walkers passed on the first part of the trail. As usual, an additional reward with hiking or climbing in Scotland is that one can be back in time in town (i.e., Edinburgh) for the evening curry! Even when leaving from Paris in the morning.


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