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Wednesday, 21 October 2020 Dereel Images for 21 October 2020
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Penang laksa “recipe”, updated
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

I've been making Penang laksa from various pastes for some time now, and they don't taste at all bad. Gradually I've come to a method that's worth recording.

Start with a packet of Richmond Assam Laksa paste:


https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20181021/big/Richmond-Assam-laksa-1.jpeg
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Take a good quantity of chicken broth (about 800 g), add 40 g petis udang and 25 g tamarind paste, and mix up well. Traditionally the petis udang is provided on a teaspoon stuck into the soup, presumably so that people who don't like it can just pull it out again. But it's very difficult to mix, so it makes sense to mix it first.

Then add the paste and dilute to a total of 1600 g. That's enough for four portions. Typically, like today, I use one portion and freeze the other three individually.

In the one portion, add a frozen fish ball and a pork ball. Bring to the boil and leave for a while for the balls to thaw and warm up. Take 60 to 80 g of meat or prawns. Warm up again, add the meat or fish, and just before serving add the prawns. Pour over laksa noodles and garnish with daun kesum, sliced raw onions and cucumber.

And I still don't have a recipe page for it!


More calendar(1) investigations
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

What do we do with calendar(1)? What do other systems do? Took a look at Linux, Mac OS, NetBSD, OpenBSD, and to my surprise all of them had calendar(1) and a similar set of calendar files, in each case in the hierarchy /usr/share/calendar/. The data files themselves are clearly closely related—every single one had the incorrect entry for the Boston Shoemakers—but the Linux one also had additional files, like calendar.kazakhstan. To my surprise, the Linux file for Australia included the line:

 * $FreeBSD: head/usr.bin/calendar/calendars/calendar.australia 345251 2019-03-17 22:26:50Z grog $

And that's the current version on FreeBSD. So somebody in Linux-world is copying our data files, if not very frequently: there have been 17 further commits since then.

And the other systems? NetBSD doesn't even have calendar.australia, and the relatively few files don't include revision information. It does, of course, have a file calendar.netbsd. OpenBSD is similar: no calendar.australia, but a calendar.openbsd, with version information:

 * $OpenBSD: calendar.openbsd,v 1.36 2014/08/17 09:00:44 jsg Exp $

And the files on Mac OS also have (much older) $FreeBSD$ version information.

* $FreeBSD: src/usr.bin/calendar/calendars/calendar.australia,v 1.7 2006/10/06 23:20:01 flz Exp $ */

That's interesting for a number of reasons. First, it means that these files are by no means as uninteresting as people might think. Also, Apple is (not for the first time) way out of date. And lastly, at least Linux and Mac OS are actively drawing their files from the FreeBSD repositories. There's nothing wrong with that, of course, but it raises interesting questions about any migration from the current structure.

While trawling the logs, also found this interesting pair of commits:

r358562 | cem | 2020-03-03 11:20:08 +1100 (Tue, 03 Mar 2020) | 9 lines

Add extremely useful calendar(1) application to FreeBSD

It does extremely useful things like execute sendmail and spew dubiously
accurate factoids.

From the feedback, it seems like it is an essential utility in a modern unix
and not at all a useless bikeshed.  How do those Linux people live without it?
Reverts r358561.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
r358561 | cem | 2020-03-03 10:37:47 +1100 (Tue, 03 Mar 2020) | 4 lines

Fix typo in r278616

FreeBSD isn't an encyclopedia.

It would seem that in the 43 minutes between the two commits, somebody had persuaded cem of the utility of the files. The comment about Linux is amusing, given that they do use it, and the adaptation to the current Australian time zone seems just plain irritating.

So: more discussion? Not much. Stefan Esser came up with a suggested patch that, at first sight, looks appropriate, but doesn't address the fact that other systems draw their updates from our repository. I'll take a look at it tomorrow.


Flushing inactive memory
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

I've been grumbling relatively silently for some time that my system has so much memory in “inactive” state. Here a typical view:

last pid: 42544;  load averages:  1.53,  1.28,  1.20     up 407+02:00:35 12:00:29
1677 processes:1 running, 1663 sleeping, 4 stopped, 9 zombie
CPU: 21.8% user,  0.6% nice,  3.0% system,  0.3% interrupt, 74.4% idle
Mem: 3477M Active, 23G Inact, 3197M Wired, 176M Cache, 1656M Buf, 1750M Free
Swap: 20G Total, 9799M Used, 10G Free, 47% Inuse

On the one hand I have 23 GB of inactive memory, over 70% of total memory, but I'm also using nearly 10 GB of swap. Why couldn't the memory requests be satisfied from the inactive pool? When I come into the office in the morning, the system spends several minutes swapping before it can respond adequately. I had thought that this could be related to the old version of FreeBSD that I'm running on eureka, or the length of time it has been running (currently 407 days), but I see similar issues on teevee and dereel, which haven't been running nearly as long.

Today I started a number of virtual machines to check the calendar files. They need a lot of memory, and after firing up four of them I had:

last pid: 43123;  load averages:  1.98,  1.52,  1.31     up 407+02:04:53 12:04:47
1685 processes:1 running, 1671 sleeping, 4 stopped, 9 zombie
CPU:  4.8% user,  0.0% nice,  1.9% system,  0.2% interrupt, 93.0% idle
Mem: 3734M Active, 1981M Inact, 12G Wired, 11G Cache, 908M Buf, 2907M Free
Swap: 20G Total, 9795M Used, 10G Free, 47% Inuse, 76K In

Clearly the swap usage wouldn't drop, but suddenly I have 21 GB more memory. And after closing the VMs again, I had:

last pid: 43776;  load averages:  1.37,  1.45,  1.31     up 407+02:06:54 12:06:48
1681 processes:2 running, 1666 sleeping, 4 stopped, 9 zombie
CPU:  4.7% user,  0.0% nice,  1.7% system,  0.2% interrupt, 93.4% idle
Mem: 3512M Active, 5508M Inact, 3621M Wired, 10G Cache, 1655M Buf, 8549M Free
Swap: 20G Total, 9794M Used, 10G Free, 47% Inuse

Maybe I should fire up a big VM first thing every morning.


Looking at Leonid's limp
Topic: animals Link here

Leonid is still limping, over four months after his indiscretion. Set off to the vet in Ballarat this afternoon, but only got as far as the gate of the property before it occurred to me that we'd just have to wait in the car while the vet did her thing. So I stayed home and Yvonne went by herself.

Result? She thinks it's his elbow. And I thought they were going to take X-rays. I'm reminded of a similar incident 6 years ago. Now they won't be able to look at him until next week.


Thursday, 22 October 2020 Dereel Images for 22 October 2020
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Garden flowers in mid-spring
Topic: gardening, general, opinion Link here

It's a month after the September equinox, and gradually spring is progressing, time for the monthly garden photos.

For the middle of spring, a number of plants are looking quite unhappy, despite my attempts. The Hibiscus rosa-sinensis “Uncle Max” isn't dead, but it's certainly not thriving:

 
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At the very least I need to protect it from the elements next winter.

The Hibiscus syriacus are coming ahead as expected, so it's not just the time of year:

 
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And my five-year-old rosemary bush is still barely alive:

 
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In fact, the whole bed seems to be suffering. The Syringia (Lilac) that I planted some time back started growing a while back, and once again it's withering:

 
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And the Buddleja × weyeriana that I planted last month also doesn't seem to be doing overly well. Here it was when I planted it last month:

 
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And now it looks like this:

 
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Yes, it's producing new growth, but it did that in the old place, while the shrub died. By contrast, the second plant, still in its pot, looks much better:

 
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The first one isn't dead yet, but it seems to be in a bed where everything dies. There are also a couple of Salvia microphylla that seem to have died, and even the Banksia integrifolia, now 4 m tall, doesn't look very happy:

 
https://lemis.nyc3.digitaloceanspaces.com/grog/Photos/20201020/small/Banksia-integrifolia-1.jpeg
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A number of the cones look strange:

 
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What's wrong in that bed?

Elsewhere things aren't looking overly good either. The Paulownia kawakamii, which should now be about 5 m tall, has survived the burnt buds of a month ago, and it's looking better:

 
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But it's nothing like what it should be. And the Schinus molle that we planted last summer is looking no better than when we planted it:

 
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Somehow I'm completely discouraged.

There are a few positive signs. The Iris are now in bloom:

 
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And the Strelitzia nicolai is gradually flowering again:

 
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And the Alyogyne huegelii is flowering effectively non-stop:

 
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That's really one of the few plants that looks good and grows well.


More calendar(1) wrangling
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

More discussion on the FreeBSD-arch mailing list today. Somehow we're running around in circles. It seems that unknown people want this “fixed” immediately, after 24 years. And though in principle people agreed with my argument about unifying with the other projects, there's no time to wait. Why? Who are the unknown people? Why now? And why should I have to do the work? Why not take a little time to do it right?


Chicken salad
Topic: food and drink, opinion Link here

One of the recipes that Lucy Osmond chose for the Dereel cookbook was a chicken salad that we made years ago. It seems that we haven't made it for 9 years, so today we caught up, at least to get a photo:

 
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It doesn't seem to be very interesting. But if she likes it...


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. It's also not a vehicle for third-party content. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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