Geo Bake Off – Geologist Despair (by )

Sisters and their epic geo-cake

I mentioned the Geological Society's Bake Off to Jean - this is the result - she's been planning it for weeks!

cake top view complete with zome in sections

The girls are seriously proud of this 7 cake monstrocity.

Cakes all bakes for the geo bake off

They have certainly enjoyed eating it :)

Mary eating geology cake

Jean eating geology cake

There is a lot of hidden stuff that went into this cake.

One of the themes was mud which is why there is chocolate orange mud flows :)

The chocolate mud flow on volcano cake adding chocolate mud flows to volc cake

But there were all sorts of challenges and Jeany decided she wanted to try and complete as many as possible.

So within the river valley there is structure for a cross section.

The river valley complete with internal cross section

And then she just got plan creative - with the structure of the cake and I believe some youtube research.

Within are the mazi-bones

These are the marzi-bones fossil human ancestors or related species buried in a cash by volcanic ash - they may or may not have already been dead when this happened some more excavation will have to occur to find out!

What's within the mud close up cake

The top layer of the Mud Tower is a chocolate gravel lens between a sandy mud and a volcanic ash.

chocolate gravel lense between the sandy mud stone and volc ash

You can see the colour difference really well in this photo.

Mud tower with slice talen out

Here is Jean cutting open mud tower to reveal whats within.

Jean cutting into the mud tower cake

Spoiler... the chocolate gravel lense.

chocolate gravel bed hidden between two layers of cake mix

Here's the river valley with birds foot delta - at this stage the volcano is dormant or extinct.

River valley cake close up

This is the main part of the cake with Mud Tower and the ammonite loaf as zoomed in bits and the past hidden behind the lush "hill".

cake top view complete with zome in sections

Of course there is a hidden volcano and... erm Jurassic Park toilet death scene...

icing lava and Jurassic Park toilet death scene with t-rex

Making the dude out of icing

The geologist hammer was another challenge - but being Jean it is a geo-thor hammer so is the wrong shape (to be honest she sneaked a time travel train into it so I was amazed there was no tardis). I did the writing.

Geo-Thor hammer made of icing

Within there is an ammonite - this one was completely and utterly Jean's own idea and it worked and she is soooo happy she is taking it into school tomorrow :)

The ammonite within cake loaf

This was the tense moment of cutting in and finding out if the idea had worked. It's a bit flatter than intended but we agreed it's had metamorphic stuff happen to it thanks to the volcanos proximity.

Jean cutting her hidden fossil cake

The cake did kind of over flow but that's not surprising - here's how it was made...

bottom layer of cake mix for hidden fossile cake swiss roll ammonite in you go ammonite loaf ready to bake hidden amaonite cake splurged

icing hammer before writing Jean's hidden fossil load with icing hammer

Did I mention that she called this cake collective - Geologist Despair.

Geologist Despair Cake

Geologist Despair the cake that rocks

Volcano before lava.

volcano cake before lava

She did try to put structure inside the volcano but it didn't work that well.

Strips within the voclano cake didn't really work Inturnal structure of the voclano cake

The volcano was fun to put together - she remembered Dino-Mountian I'd made her for her 5th? Birthday :)

Marshmallow fluff cake glue Filling the volcano cake with chocolate frosting

How the river valley was put together...

creating the internal structure for a hopeful cross section valley cake four types of rock ready to bake! River valley cake with ash and mud inclinded layers chocolate butter icing from different angle chocolate orange butter icing for mud base grass for the hills added to the river valley cake River valley cake with birds foot delta

One time travel train and it's in a tunnel - the tunnel was the challenge :)

Time travel train coming out of icing tunnel between the two time zones of voclano cake

And before the tunnel, infact she did a lot of icing moderling for this.

Train added to cake sans tunnel making lava moulding the icing decorations for the cake

Of course Mary pulled her weight too :) Mainly with rolling out icing and smearing chocolate everywhere!

Mary rolling icing for the cake

She did most of the Mud Tower by herself :)

chocolate coating the geo-cake

Stack of cake Choclate flop Mary coating mud tower in chocolate Mary adding the chocolate gravel Cake stake chocolated Marzipan tree Mud crack cake

Mary put chocolate gravel leaking out of an erroded side and some other bits including sticking out marzi-bones :)

Mud tower with grit and boulders and bubbles and cracks

Mud cracks were a challenge - Jean went with the existing cake cracks and made the lonely tree which was another of the challenges.

Look at those mud cracks and the lonely tree cake

Lonely tree... did I mention the lonely tree?

Lonely mazipan tree

Other general cakey making pics...

Jean and Mary sorting cake tins for geo bake off Alaric and Jean sieving flour Jean putting cake battery into bee hive tin to make a volcano cake adding the chocolate fragments mixer hard at work food colouring and choc powder for different types of mud

Creating the Marzi-Bones...

icing sugar in mould ready to make cake decs marzi bones are go agglomerate possibly glacial deposit created with chocolate and spongue cake Ring cake with chocolate inclusions etc Jean adding the bone cash to the cake Surprise marzipan remains can see the colours of the mud tower bottom cakes better and therefore the strucuter

maripan skull

I really love this idea :)

The marzi bones

Creating T-Rex...

mixing green and white icing for t-rex icing t-rex needs a trim

icing t-rex ready to go

This has been EPIC - it took 3 days to make the cakes - Alaric is taking Mud Tower into work tomorrow etc... Both girls have enjoyed it so much and of course we used home grown eggs. The cakes themselves range from chocolate orange to mint to vanilla and strawberry in flavour. There are three icings and marzipan involved and some of the cake is me friendly ie gluten free (the volcano) and some is Mary friendly and so on.

Jean was a little sad as she had meant to put Mary Anning in and a geological map too but she forgot and just don't ask her about how atomically correct her loo death scene is ok.

St Georges Day (by )

Red, White and Blue

It's St Georges Day about a dragon and a knight
About tea and cake and a fairy tail fight
So fly high the flag of red and white
Be proud and loud but loose the racist shiite
You know Anglos were once the foreign ones - right?
As was St George killed in his persecuted flight
Remember that when you mock the immigrants plight
And that it's the mix that makes for England's might

Ugarit performance (by )

Ugarit was once renowned for its poor import performance, and rightly so. However, it's a lot faster these days - not, sadly, due to amazing optimisation work on my part, but because Thomas Hintz made write-u8vector! faster. It's not released yet, but will be in Chicken 4.10.

There's still work to be done, though. In my experiments with archival mode, I imported 9GiB into an archive in:

real    24m14.822s
user    17m51.485s
sys     1m59.920s

Writing an uncompressed tarball of the same 9GiB took:

real    8m49.931s
user    0m1.076s
sys     1m1.315s

That's a factor of 3. Ugarit spends four minutes waiting for I/O while tar spent eight minutes, which is puzzling, but Ugarit spent seventeen minutes of CPU time while tar spent one second; this will be down to the fact that Ugarit still copies each byte of the file several times between reading it in and writing it out, and I know how to fix that!

There will be some unavoidable architectural cost in the fact that Ugarit will always use at least two processes - a frontend and a backend, with the data sent over a pipe between them - but I think there's a lot I can reduce first. Onwards and downwards!

Ugarit archive mode manifest maker (by )

When I last wrote about Ugarit progress, I had developed archive mode to the point where one could import a list of files with metadata from a "manifest file", and then search for files based on the metadata from the manifest and stream out chosen files. I gave an example of using this to play MP3s matching a search pattern:

[alaric@ahusai ugarit]$ for i in `ugarit search test.conf music '(= ($ artist) "UNKLE")' keys`;
do ugarit archive-stream test.conf music $i | mpg123 -;
done

Well, that was all based on hand-written manifest files, which are no fun to produce (our music collection is large). As such, I've been working on a "manifest maker" that takes a list of files and directories and makes a manifest file from them, recursing down through directories to list all the files. And for each, it automatically extracts metadata into the manifest file, which can then be hand-edited if required, and then used to import from.

The idea is that the manifest maker will have support for a number of file types it knows how to extract additional metadata from, and the first one I've implemented is ID3 tag extraction from MP3s. I've implemented the ID3 V2.2 and ID3 V2.3 specs, as those were the two that I found present in the subset of my MP3 collection I'm testing against!

For example, here's the output it produced for one of my MP3s:

(object "./test-data/THE HOLLIES - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.mp3"
  (filename = "THE HOLLIES - He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother.mp3")
  (mime-type = "audio/mpeg")

   ;; Unknown ID3 tag "COMM"="engiTunNORM\x00 00000402 00000000 00001B59 00000000 00004E65 00000000 000040EC 00000000 00015FD5 00000000"
  (keyword = "Pop")
  (name = "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother")
  (creator = "THE HOLLIES")
  (creation-date = "2002")
  #;(featuring = "")
  (collection-name = "Legends CD2")
  #;(collection-volume = "")
  #;(collection-volumes = "")
  (volume-index = 16)
  (volume-size = 18)

  (mtime = 1428948696.0)
  (ctime = 1428948696.0)
  (size = 4063360))

It prints out unknown ID3 tags as comments, in case a human can glean some useful information from them to put into the metadata, and it suggests the names of metadata tags I might be able to provide by hand that it hasn't found (in this case, a tag for other people featured in the music, and two for indicating that this album is part of a set. As it happens, it is, as the "CD2" in the name suggests, but it wasn't indicated in the ID3 so I'll have to hand-edit it; likewise, the date from the MP3 of 2002 is clearly for the production of the album, not that classic track... ID3 metadata is often a bit shabby!). Also included are file mtime, ctime, and size in bytes.

I hope to add Ogg Vorbis metadata next; I'd like to add EXIF support to parse information out of the JPEGs in our vast family photo library, but it looks much harder, and I'm not sure how useful it will actually be!

Exercise and the Failure to Diet (by )

So today I take Jean swimming, today I go swimming for the first time without needing aid to get into the pool for a decade. Today I am fretting that without my glasses on I will not be able to keep track of my 9 yr old or that due to not having been swimming much I will have forgotten how to and I could only just barely swim as it was.

Today I stand here with two swimming costumes, my new one black and multicoloured and my old one - black and white. One is really too big for me and one is really a little too snug and just fit last week and I've had a pigging out birthday weekend so my stomach is not wanting to be compressed.

I am fretting that one will slip off and the other will leave back dugs - or folds of skin, I am fretting that before Alaric has always been there and now I wont be the obvious wife and mother but just me and I do not look young and beautiful. At the same time I worry because I put the swim suit on and I feel naked and exposed and I'll be in public. I have some pit stubble and some leg hair and I don't want to use my energy in dealing with them as that may result in no swimming. I am only an ok size if I hold my stomach in and it hurts today.

I have the scar on my knee from the 10 yr old biking me and scars from caving mucking up my shin and the varicous vein sticking out and ugly on my thigh, cellulite bobbling and I'll admit I don't look that different to me as a teen and I felt all of this then as I panicked over day glow bikini or my turquoise swim suit.

And I just want to hide but Jean... Jean is growing up and wants to swim, I can take her now - for the first time since being a mum I myself by myself can take her. She is already self concous and worried about her body and I don't know if confiding in her or hiding it from her is best.

Bingo bango bong - it's time talk about my diet and expectations. People think the diet is about weight loss but it's not I've also felt fat, it doesn't matter what size I am I look in the mirror and see the same sized person. For a little back ground on that - this has been the case when I was size 8 to being in the last trimester of pregnancy at a whopping 16 stone. One of the swim suits is an 18 and the others a 10 - to look at they don't seem that different.

My diet has been driven by medical stuff and the want to feel better - of course I want to look better but I resigned myself to being not normal aesthetics a long time ago. This is part of the panic before I go out.

My hair is big, it is frizz, it is curl, my skin is blotchy and changes colour and I have scars and now stretch marks. I have an enormous bottom - always have had, it sticks out and is wide. It's just the way I am.

I like weird clothing but I know from having tried that I still stick out even in normal clothing so I might as well wear what I want.

Recently the diet has kind of failed, I have reverted to the 1600 cals a day and I no longer have a nurse to talk to about this. However, I am now a quantified self and have been monitoring things - not weight Alaric deals with that as I don't really want to know. But I do know that my weight has plateud, which is amazing as I keep eating 200 cals more than my maintain intake. The maintain is what you can eat without putting weight on but you wont loose weight on it either.

And the strange thing is that everyone is now commenting on the weight loss but I am no longer loosing it - what is happening however is that I am going down dress sizes. I am physically becoming smaller or more compact as I exercise.

For me it is strange how the focus is on the weight loss, I assume this is because it is the most easily quantifiable thing?

On the other hand my pedometer game is going really well and today I won a pink lemur, the more exercise I do the more in game energy I have to make plants grown and to build buildings with. I still have huge areas to unlock on my maps and it is my main motivator - except now the headaches are under control and the pelvis is behaving and the bleeding has stopped I am enjoying the exercise - but I wasn't before not why that was all going on - I was just doing it when I could for fear of being unfit/fat except there was no way I could do enough.

I mention this as there are people out there who keep trying to use me as a gauge for themselves - you can't. I couldn't even use myself as a gauge six months ago. Each person has to find out what works themselves and sadly my journey has been made a lot more doable by money. Yes you can exercise cheaply - ie running but without proper shoes you risk shin splints, without the pedometers motivations to actually do a run can be low.

Gyms cost money and adults on the kids climbing frames at the park can end up in the police being called. Swimming costs money, dance, climbing, yoga cost money. Youtube vids are free but can take alot of sorting and again motivation.

I like my allotment and it is exercise but... it cost money and it's not even a council one as I've now been on the waiting list for one of them for 3 yrs! They do not have enough allotments >:( Everyone should have access to an allotment >:(

This post initially was supposed to be about the emphasises being on health and not actual weight loss and how size and weight are a loose corralation and not absolute. But it was high jacked by my nerves about swimming and self identity and stuff.

I have everything packed and ready and I know Jean is uber excited - I've gone with the larger swim suit with the idea that a boob popping out maybe is preferable to being uncomftable and not being able to swim. Only time will tell if I can remember how to actually swim and for that matter get out of the pool by myself at the end of the session.

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