Archive for Gruyère

a journal of the plague year [latter August reviews]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 10, 2020 by xi'an

Read during the first week of our Alpine vacations a Japanese gore novel by Natsuo Kirino, Out, which I found in the book exchange zone at Dauphine earlier in July. The book is more impressive for a social criticism of the condition of working class women the Japanese society than for its psychological thriller nature, even though the later is well-enough conducted to induce a page-turning commitment… The four women at the centre of the story are drawn in fine and convincing details and the practical cynicism of most of them makes the novel avoid the easy and rosy idealisation of a crime sisterhood. The slow unraveling of the past of these women exhibits how they ended up in a food-packaging night-shift job by virtue (!) of a gender inequality inherent to the social structure. The book is not 100% perfect, especially in the final moments, even though the surprising readiness of Masako to turn herself (almost) into a victim is much more subtle than it sounds (spoiler!). Still a major novel, if one can manage to stand the gory details..!

Had another chance great meal in a Michelin-recommended restaurant in Briançon, Au Plaisir Ambré, with a surprising sea-food theme including Granville whelks tartare, lobster samosas and grayling en croûte (except the crust was not salt but brioche!), the later with the distinctive taste of river fish. The more pleasant as an earlier experience at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris was not so exciting, with a risotto smothered by Gruyère!, a culinary lèse-majesty! Also tasted wonderful tartes aux noix made by the housekeeper of one of our vacation rentals. Rich enough for a whole day of hiking.

Read the Raven Tower by Ann Leckie, of which I expected much and which I alas found quite poor (compared with the fabulous Ancillary series). Maybe because I found too many connections with the stunning Ka, which takes the raven’s perspective on human history. Maybe because the Raven is the bad guy/god in this story. Even taking the story as a theatre play (as it builds on Hamlet) did not really work for me. The few characters are not sufficiently deep, the interaction between gods and humans is rather simplistic (although the world-building shows promises) and the conclusion is botched in my opinion. The style is original and the book well-written, however. Plus the book is short and single-volumed! (But I do not get the rave reviews!)

Le Monde puzzle [#1076]

Posted in Books, Kids, R, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2018 by xi'an

A cheezy Le Monde mathematical puzzle : (which took me much longer to find [in the sense of locating] than to solve, as Warwick U does not get a daily delivery of the newspaper [and this is pre-Brexit!]):

Take a round pizza (or a wheel of Gruyère) cut into seven identical slices and turn one slice upside down. If the only possibly moves are to turn three connected slices to their reverse side, how many moves at least are needed to recover the original configuration? What is the starting configuration that requires the largest number of moves?

Since there are ony N=2⁷ possible configurations, a brute force exploration is achievable, starting from the perfect configuration requiring zero move and adding all configurations found by one additional move at a time… Until all configurations have been visited and all associated numbers of steps are stable. Here is my R implementation

nztr=lengz=rep(-1,N) #length & ancestor
fundz=matrix(0,Z,Z) #Z=7
for (i in 1:Z){ #only possible moves
while (min(lengz)==-1){ #second loop omitted
  for (j in (1:N)[lengz>-1])
  for (k in 1:Z){
    if ((lengz[m]==-1)|(lengz[m]>lengz[j]+1)){

Which produces a path of length five returning (1,0,0,0,0,0,0) to the original state:

> nztry(2)
[1] 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
[1] 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
[1] 0 1 0 1 1 0 0
[1] 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
[1] 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
[1] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

and a path of length seven in the worst case:

> nztry(2^7)
[1] 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
[1] 1 1 1 1 0 0 0
[1] 1 0 0 0 0 0 0
[1] 0 1 1 0 0 0 0
[1] 0 1 0 1 1 0 0
[1] 0 1 0 0 0 1 0
[1] 1 1 0 0 0 0 1
[1] 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Since the R code was written for an arbitrary number Z of slices, I checked that there is no solution for Z being a multiple of 3.

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