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posts for 2007. (page 2.)

yesterday i tried to make “real” hot chocolate, resulting in the most intense hot chocolate i ever had. i began with 200 gramms of dark chocolate, half a liter of milk, and a bit of sugar.
using the double boiling method, i.e. putting a smaller pot into a bigger pot filled with hot water, i melted the chocolate. when it was mostly melted, i started adding the milk and stirring. then, i added the sugar, and waited until it got hot again. then, finally, i added some chili powder and a bit of creme de cacao.
one last hint of mine is that you shouldn’t try to drink more than one cup of this in a few hours, it’s simply too much chocolate at once :-)

posted in: drinks

opeth‘s fifth masterpiece blackwater park contains a gorgeous song called bleak. dark poetry painting pictures of betrayal, of frustration, of anger. luring me into deep thoughts, making me float in sadness. at the same time, making me adoring the music, the interplay between mellow and heavy parts, interwoven into a complex composition. carrying me into it’s world. making me addicted to it.
having listened to it so often, it still touches me, hits me, drags me away, as it did the first time i listened to it. you may want to take a look at a beautiful picture created by rose of sharyn, which captures well some of the emotions i feel when listening to this song.

saturday evening, i watched jim jarmusch‘s movie night on earth (imdb). knowing before only ony movie by him, namely dead man (imdb), one of my favorite movies, i was really anxious to see another movie by him.
night on earth is divided into five stories in five different cities around the earth, namely los angeles, new york, paris, rome, and helsinki. each story being centered around a cab driver, cruising through the city early in the morning. some being funny, some being very sad, some just being daily life, dream life; stories about love and death, about life. some making you laugh, some making you cry. a great movie.

posted in: movies

i’ve always thought that mathml is a great idea, allowing you to write formulae in html which look good afterwards. or so i thought. then, today, i saw this. at least in my browser (firefox, i have the feeling that word by default produces nicer formulae than this. then, i started searching the web for other examples, maybe it is possible to produce better output. but then, even when looking at (seemingly) standard examples as this and this (the latter supposed to display that 44.997 is an element of the reals), i’m shocked how bad this looks, if it works after all (the first did, more or less, and the latter didn’t). i mean, i know that it might be illusive to expect that the formulae look as good as in latex, but i would have at least expected them to be rendered correctly…
well, i’d guess the only way is to stick to rendering formulae with latex and including them as images, as it is standard practice on basically all sites displaying good looking formulae on the web, as wikipedia, matroids matheplanet, matheraum, etc.
or simply don’t use any formulae in html files, as i’m doing so far. too bad.

posted in: math www

well, last night was the first concert in my current schedule: serentiy, machine men, communic and threshold were playing in the z-7 in pratteln. i really enjoyed it. first, serenity, an austrian power prog band was playing. i’ve already seen them at the end of march, playing before sacred steel and morgana lefay, and i still don’t like them too much. it’s not about their technical skills or whatever, i just can’t really stand this symphonic power metal in some cases, and this is one of these cases. and their singer should pose a bit less… ;-) after serenity, a finnish melodic metal act called machine men started to rock off. them, i really enjoyed, and later i even bought one of their albums, circus of fools. after them, the norwegian band communic started playing. i’ve never seen them or heard music from them before and was pretty curious as i read some good things about them. they’re making prog metal and are quite influenced by nevermore, a band i really like. consisting of only three musicians, which is very seldom the case for prog related bands, playing guitars+vocals, bass and drums, they still managed to produce a very intense, beautiful stream of music. if the concert would have endet after them, i would have been perfectly happy (except that they should have played longer in that case). but then, it didn’t. well. they seemed to be very happy with us, their audience, too: after their gig, besides giving us sticks and plectrums, and tor atle, their drummer, even took of one of his cymbals and threw it into the crowd. i’ve never seen that before. unfortunately, it landed somewhere else, so no chance of grabbing it… afterwards i bought their album waves of visual decay, and the stage was prepared for the british prog metal act threshold. threshold seemed to enjoy playing for us, and we enjoyed listening to them, moving to the music, marvelling at their solos, their playing skills. it was simply fantastic. but then, everything’s ending, and after an encore with two very nice songs, i had to leave to catch the last train. curiously, i again met a couple on the way back which i already met after arena’s concert at the end of may; back then, they recommended me to try out ayreon, a project by arjen lucassen which produces fantastic prog operas. again, thanks a lot for this hint, i really like these operas. well, maybe i’ll write something on them later.

a few days ago, kornel wrote something on chili drink chocolate. it’s really easy: take usual chocolate powder, take chili powder, take milk, mix it, drink it, enjoy it. and, well, it is great. if you take a sip, it first tastes as usual drink chocolate, and then, seconds later, the chili starts burning on your tongue. that’s the kind of hot chocolate i like.

posted in: drinks

today i bought a bottle of creme de menthe, so i’d be finally able to mix one of my favorite cocktails, the grasshopper, myself. additionally to creme de menthe, it consists of creme de cacao, cream and ice, and is very sweet and refreshing.

to mix it, get the ingredients, put them into a shaker. some ice should be in the shaker, too, while the rest of it should be inside the class.

then, shake the shaker for some time, and fill the result into the glass. i don’t have cocktail glasses, so i took something else, happening to be green. then, i finally finished it off by adding a green straw.


today i bought altar, a collaberation between boris and sunn o))). a really impressive, very abstract, dark, droning piece of art. making me want to rip off my headphones and keep listening the same time. making me addicted, to keep listening, my thoughts drifting away. having no clear images in my head. just feelings. creepy. noises are floating around, feeling as if the air would be liquid and different currents make the air look like an animated fractal, always changing shape, always in motion. making me want to move along. inevitably swallowing my attention, my thoughts. still, seeing nothing. giving me the creeps. i like it. love it.

i’m back now. back home, in zurich. and we have been out yesterday, and it was wonderful, the weather being great, as great as it hasn’t been probably for a long, long time: the sun was shining bright, it was warm, and the places we visited on our trip were absolutely beautiful. we’ve been at brú na bóinne, visiting the passage graves knowth and newgrange. passage graves are basically hills with a tunnel (the passage) going inside, reaching finally a chamber, the grave itself. both of them are over 5000 years old, therefore being older than the pyramids in egypt. more interesting is the fact that newgrange’s inner chamber is completely dark all the time, except on midwinter, when, in case the sun isn’t blocked by clouds, it shines through a window over the tunnel into the grave and lightens it up a bit for around 17 minutes in the morning. it is amazing that such a long time ago, people managed to build this up with such a precision.

on our visit, we had the chance to enter the grave, and to get a tiny impression of this event, using electric light instead of sun beams. first, being completely dark inside, one sees light crawling onto the floor, slowly increasing, the shattered photons adding some light, allowing to recognize the room’s structure, the other watchers, and, according to our guide, even their faces and colors of the inside. then, the light slowly fades away, the darkness crawling back out of the holes, covering everything. the only color left being black. pure absence of light, for another 364 days, 23 hours and a lot of minutes. or even for millennia, when entry stones fell down, blocked the way inside for the sun. today it’s different, though, electric light allowing tourists to see something, to wander around in this grave, appreciating its construction, gazing at the decoration carved into the stones, the spirals.
then, finally, being out again, the view of the landscape feels so beautiful, the green much more intense, one is happy to have escaped the blackness.
now, feel free to enjoy some views on these places.

i’m currently staying in dublin, attending the 11th workshop on elliptic curve cryptography. our view on the countryside has been very brief, basically being limited to the view out of our cabs window on the way from the airport to our hotel. we haven’t seen much more from the city, mainly exploring the way from our hotel to the ucd campus, which means walking next to a big busy street for 20 minutes, walking a bit over trinity college yesterday on the way to the conference dinner, and then seeing the inside of some restaurants and pubs. a very nice pub was a real, completely non-touristic irish pub which we’ve been in two days ago (the only tourists in there being us). it were actually two pubs, connected by a small door and owned by the same person, the difference being a bit the ambient—the one more aristocratic, the other for the plebs—and, suprisingly, the prices, being slightly higher in the aristocratic part. well, and the people were slightly different too, like more suits could be seen in the aristocratic part. opposing to that, we were in a very touristic pub yesterday, with “folk” music and dancing. probably only remotely related to real irish traditions. but very popular among tourists.
another strange thing we encountered is the fact that almost noone here speaks irish. ask a random irish person on the streets, chances are really small he does. well, they apparently learn it in school, but they probably like it as much as the germans like to learn frensh in school: most aren’t able to do a conversation exceeding something like “hi, my name is felix, who are you?”…
this afternoon, we’ll probably see a bit more ireland; planning’s still to be done, we are aiming at something but it’s not sure yet that we can get there in time. if we do, i’ll write about it tomorrow, after my return home. stay tuned.