My Minestrone (Stew)

A few weeks ago I was walking into Coles supermarket in Joondalup and had an overwhelming desire for Minestrone, no idea why. I didn't want any of the canned crap though, you know, the soup with your salt kinda half litre variety.

I took the cheats way out and bought pre-cut vegetables, but here's the recipe I have developed and called Minestrone stew as is much thicker than a regular soup:

500g diced vegetables (including carrot, corn, celery, spring onion and red onion)
1 pkt streaky bacon, chopped
1.5 litres chicken stock (I use Campbell's)
1 can Red Kidney Beans, drained
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 pkt Minestrone lentils
1/2 pkt shell pasta (or another kind that holds sauce)

Method:
Fry the bacon in large saucepan.
Add lentils.

After 1 minute add the chopped vegetables and fry for several minutes.

Add kidney beans and diced tomatoes. Stir through.

Add chicken stock. Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer for 45 minutes.

Add half pack of pasta. Cook for 15 minutes.

And you're done. Hope you enjoy.

What a week

It has been a busy week in this party of one.

Last week I was told I would be working on refreshing the Research Ethics manuals that are currently under review. My part involves redesigning and making these manuals look fresh, they’ve licensed similar manuals from another university and wanted to use these as a basis for improving our own. The source documents are particularly wordy, especially the comment insert boxes which I think are over-the-top wordy. I sent through an initial design for the first document on day one just hoping for some feedback, little did I expect glowing feedback and no requests for changes, does this ever happen?

The most challenging issue I have with these documents, apparently there will be 46 in total, is that they will all interlink, and will be PDF’d. I did an initial test after creating the second document the following day, queue alarm bells, it just didn’t work within Microsoft Word, the links were trying to call the word documents and in specific locations. Perhaps it is my lack of knowledge within this area, I don’t typically need to do such things. Another annoyance was how the footer was behaving, on some pages text would but up against, on others there would be a decent gap, it was bugging me on so many levels.

I decided today I would move to InDesign and see how this application handled interlinking, I knew for sure I was not going to have the footer issues. It took me hours to get my document in, build the hyperlinks up, and get the commentary boxes in place; it is certainly nowhere near as fast to get the document to the same state as it was in Word, but the look is far better for the extra effort. I now need to prepare the second document to allow me to check linking between the two and InDesign performs – CROSSING FINGERS!

I met this afternoon with representatives of our IT department to discuss process mapping I’d been working on recently within our department. I’ve worked within Visio for a few years, however I’ve always done so without any formal training, they will be training me to work to their formal EPC specifications and storing the diagrams within their server. All is still created within Visio, however to a formal structure with naming conventions to maintain consistency across diagrams. Some of the diagrams we have outside of their system are highly detailed and difficult to read when scaled to fit an A3 page, I noticed they mentioned breaking down but it will be interesting to see how they go about this – will be appreciated by all the ability to read once more.

Been a bit of tiring week too, worked a 14 hour day Wednesday between work, then working at home for one of the schools on their website… utterly exhausted after that one, slept like a log. I am grateful for the weekend now and chance of a sleep-in. Thank heavens is winter and sun not rising early right now! Enjoy the weekend, I shall, not raining – woot!

Samsung Smart TV

In late 2015 I bought myself a 55 inch Samsung 4K Curved Smart TV, and it was beautiful. I had nothing to complain about the tv that it replaced, a 46 inch FullHD Sony Bravia, however it lacked all the features and the resolution.

I had intended to purchase another Sony TV when I went to JB HiFi that day, however they didn’t have any in stock, thus I needed to look at something else. The curved was something I considered a little wanky to be quite honest, and as an owner of nearly 2 years now it really is a marketing gimmick quite frankly, it means nothing to you when sitting your arse in front of the screen to watch Netflix.

I’ve found Samsung to be a bit of an annoying platform for various reasons, which I will outline here:

  • The TV Guide is just crap to use. My friend and housemate, who bought a smaller Sony Bravia 4K before me (inspiring my purchase), has a much nicer to use TV guide that is even quite visual. By comparison, if I decide to move up/down in my guide the tv pauses as it attempts to access the tv channel to gather the data, a terrible experience.
  • Turning the tv on is nice and quick with the quick start feature, however it attempts to log in to your Samsung account which may or may not take FOREVER slowing the tv to an absolute halt, don’t even try to access features on the tv or change channels, and don’t try to pass GO.
  • Access to apps. Some apps that exist on my friend’s tv just don’t exist on mine, the Channel 9 app being one, I’ve actually had to install this on my Apple TV just to watch their content. The new Foxtel service I went searching for today, it too is not available.
  • The remote control is great to use, but it can also be frustrating to use. The smart pointer can sometimes just decide not to function and be very difficult to make the pointer re-display. Inconsistent access to the smart point within applications is also annoying, some recognise it, some do not. If you remote’s navigation buttons are playing up, as mine are, then this not working is just plain annoying.
  • Just today I had a ‘data service’ notice pop up on-screen and nothing would show, it took me 30 minutes just to get tv service to resume on the tv once more. Thank god for the internet providing hints on what I should do. My last resort was going to be to pull the plug, this has worked for caching errors the tv has experienced, 10 minutes or so required.

I think when I next come to replacing my television I will look away from Samsung towards a better brand, one less problematic. I think I will insist on playing with the tv far more in-store before buying it, I didn’t do that enough this time to my detriment.

Getting my handyman on

Alright, I’ll confess, me and handyman are two words that are just never used in the same sentence. In fact, I’d go so far as to say were I to mention I’d fixed something in conversation people might look at me strangely and say “you?”

My first such attempt was in 2013 when my toilet cistern had started to overflow and leak on to the bathroom floor, it was most annoying. At the time I was rather ill, my diabetes decided to take a turn for the worse just a week beforehand and I was still very much recovering. Despite this I decided to replace the cistern myself, a friend had said it was an easy job to do, swap-out swap-in job; how wrong she ended up being. The difference in mounts between the old cistern and the new meant I was going to have to drill a new screw location, and through tiles no less.

I had not touched a drill at this time for almost 30 years, and certainly never through tiles. Thankfully I watched a LOT of lifestyle programs, thus I was aware I needed to use masking tape to roughen the surface – it worked a treat. Even though it took me four hours to achieve swapping of the cisterns, mostly due to my having to rest long periods, I was chuffed with myself for having achieve it.

Just last week my bathroom basin taps decided to drip, the speed increasing day-by-day to the point I had to get on with doing something about it. My flatmate had done her own basin taps, several times but with negligible success. Before progressing with my second handyman effort I hit YouTube to check how it was done, watching a few videos. Despite the videos, the actual process ended up being slightly different for me.

Removal of the taps was of course standard as per video, however unlike the YouTube videos the damned washer stayed inside the cavity. Try as I may, nothing I had in the house could extract that damned washer/valve from its hold; I was forced to return to Bunnings and purchase pliers. Pliers in-hand I FINALLY managed to extract the valve from its hold, it was little wonder the cold water tap was causing a leak, the washer was near gone. Repeated the process on the hot water tap and reinstalled all tap wear before heading outside and restoring water to the house, nervously.

SUCCESS! OMG! I was absolutely stoked! No drips and taps now turned off far more easily than they had done previously. Handyman effort #2 was a success. I don’t think you’ll be paying me for this anytime soon, but at least I’ve got a 100% success rate so far haha 🙂