Posts Tagged ‘Research’

A Penny Loaf Made my Head Hurt

Saturday, September 10th, 2016

I was writing and then I needed to know some details about food in the Regency and so, off to Google Books Advanced Search.  . . . two hours later . . . I came across an interesting recipe for bread pudding, which I happen to love.

image of a recipe. Text below!

Recipe!

 

Bread pudding

Take the crumb of a penny loaf, and pour on it a pint of good milk boiling hot, when it is cold, beat it very fine, with two ounces of butter and sugar to your palate, grate half a nutmeg in it, beat it up with four eggs, and put them in and beat altogether near half an hour, tie it in a cloth and boil it an hour, you may put in half a pound of currants for change, and pour over it white wine sauce.

To make a boiled bread pudding a second way.

Take the inside of a penny loaf, grate it fine, add it to two ounces of butter, take a pint and a half of milk, with a stick of cinnamon; boil it and pour it over the bread, and cover it close until it is cold, then take six eggs beat up very well with rose water, mix them all well together, sweet to your taste, and boil it one hour.

I figured it would be interesting to attempt this. My first hurdle is figuring out the size of a penny loaf. It turns out the size/weight of a penny loaf was dependent on the cost of wheat. I read a bunch and saw all the formulas and as near as I can tell a penny loaf had to weigh anywhere from 11 to 16 troy ounces.  A troy ounce is 31.1034768 g (1.097142857143 ounces.)  Some more googleing . . . .

16 troy ounces is 17.554285714288 regular ounces.

Let’s just say a penny loaf is about 16 ounces. I’ll get some bread and attempt this. I’ll report back.

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there are things of more importance

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

It may be said that there are things of more importance than striking a ball against a wall—there are things, indeed, that make more noise and do as little good, such as making war and peace, making speeches and answering them, making verses and blotting them, making money and throwing it away.

William Hazlitt, ‘The Indian Jugglers’ (1825); in The Selected Writings of William Hazlitt, ed. Duncan Wu, 9 vols (London: Pickering & Chatto, 1998), VI, 74.

And this citation is from this wonderful article: Hazlitt’s Prizefight Revisited.

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Recent Reading

Saturday, September 24th, 2011

I’ve been working on Not Proper Enough but ended up needing to do some research about the Opera. The London Royal Opera House has a great website where I learned that the present London Opera House, built after a fire in 1858 (this date is wrongly reported in many other sources) was the site of 3 previous Opera Houses, since 1764(ish) sorry, that date was not germain to my research. In the Regency, it was The Italian Opera [House]. The first one burned down in 1809 and was rebuilt then burned again in 1858, as noted.

So, during the Regency, The Italian Opera was very exclusive. It was lit by candles and lamps until gaslight was installed around 1817. There was a saloon (for Americans, this is not a wild west bar). I do not yet have definitive evidence that women of the demimonde took upper boxes (3rd floor) and gentlemen visited there to arrange liaisons. However, I consider it likely.

There were private boxes, which appear to have been made larger in 1809.

The Royal Opera House’s website has digitized some of its collections and special collections (GOLDMINE!!!) but not the ones I wanted desperately to see. They have a massive and nearly complete collection of ephemera, including playbills for every performance, also not yet on line. Their database search results returned information that did not make sense. I was trying to get a list of Operas performed in 1817 but when I clicked on individual links in the result set, almost none of them listed performances then. So, not a trustable result.

ANYWAY, This led me to a scholar named Jane Rendell who has written extensively on Architecture and gender. Much of her research focuses on the Regency era. Alas, unless you have full access to a University library, this material is not accessible except for major money. She has one specifically on The Italian Opera but I was not able to locate it anywhere. **Sob** I did, however, get my hands on two of her articles, for $34 each. I find it ironic that Academia feels so strongly about the free flow of information yet the majority of academic research is, in essence, behind a paywall and not accessible to non-Academics.

ANYWAY, I ponied up $70 for the two articles, Jane Rendell (1999): The Clubs of St. James’s: places of public patriarchy – exclusivity, domesticity and secrecy, The Journal of Architecture, 4:2, 167-189 and Jane Rendell (1998): West End rambling: gender and architectural space in London 1800––1830, Leisure Studies, 17:2, 108-122 and they were fascinating and full of great references some of which I tracked down and have in my hot little hands.

Lord Love A Footnote!

In these two articles, Rendell talks about the way architecture serves the need of these elite men to control and describe public places. It seems to me the obverse is also true, that those architectural spaces also controlled these men and were also a source of class anxiety. There was an amazing amount of detail, all of it documented. She takes a Marxist view — which really only means that she can (and should) talk about the ways in which money affects public and private lives and, in her case, the spaces.

I also came across a book written in 1907 by the management of Brooks’s Club that has a very nice introduction and a list of every single member of Brooks’s ever, from inception to 1907. It lists the member, who recommended him, and usually a bit of biographical information. Names, people. Names and titles and why they were important enough to belong to Brooks’s.

All of which reminds me that while the internet is amazing, if you are serious about your research, the internet is only a place to start. Much of the sort of detailed information a meticulous writer needs to have is behind academic paywalls or simply not online yet. It’s in library collections and special collections. I am not able to travel to London to view the special collections at the Royal Opera, and I don’t have access/cannot afford the scholarly articles I’d love to get my hands on.

Keep in mind that even in primary sources, the date of the mid-19th century fire that burned the 2nd Italian Opera is variously reported as: 1867, 1857, 1850. I’m going to assume that the Royal Opera is most likely to be correct that it was 1858 and that was the date I saw most often. One source isn’t enough . . . And yes, I am thinking of several RWA Research presentations that were given by people who had plainly never gotten beyond Google. If you’re going to hold yourself out as an expert, Google is not enough.

So, Carolyn, How’d the Writing Go?

What writing? After my 4 hour nap this afternoon, I was reading about The Italian Opera and architecture and gendered spaces and so on. But boy do I stuff to add now!

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My Life As a Hacker

Friday, June 25th, 2010

Many of you probably know by now that a pet peeve of mine is books that get the computer stuff wrong at a fundamental level. For some reason I was thinking lately about an incident at a previous day job. I’ll tell you guys about it because it was kind of funny in a Dilbert sort of way.

The company I worked for used a third party application that was a POS (by POS I do NOT mean Point of Sale I mean something else). The back end of the app was SQL Server ( a very expensive database). Oh my god this app was a nightmare. Poorly designed, and worse, designed with obfuscation in mind. There is a saying Security By Obscurity which any reasonably adept techie knows is a completely stupid way to design anything. You won’t stop the people with the skills to do you damage…

Anyway, one of the things this application did was assign documents an identity — like ZZ578490894 except every single document began with the same 2 character alpha prefix and there was (supposedly) no way to change that prefix (because, as I discovered, it was hard coded in the application software layer, not in the database where it belonged.)

We had a production version and a test version because, doh, you don’t want to train people or test new things against your production database. The problem was that there was an overly complex and error prone method for connecting to the test version which we could do nothing about because of the way the app was designed. Sad. Users would open up the test version of the software, but the series of stupid and complex steps that switched the users’ database connection from production to test often failed and they remained, unknowingly, connected to prod.

One thing that happened all too often was that people THOUGHT they were connected to test when, in fact, they were connected to prod, and production documents would get overwritten by test documents. ACK!!! We complained bitterly to the application developers and met with scorn. Seriously. It was not their fault, the vendor said, if our users were inattentive and perhaps not very smart and besides, their process never failed anyway. Why, it always worked if you followed all the steps! They also did not understand why we would ever want to have a different document prefix.

Sidebar: If you are generating an ID that always contains some bit of information that is always the same no matter what, then why waste the processing cycles to generate the identical bits? Why waste the database storage space? (For database geeks only: the field was defined as CHAR 12 or 14, I can’t recall which). Why do this at all? The information is, by definition, meaningless.

Anyway, I had the brilliant idea that we would find a way to change the letter prefix of the document ids such that when someone was connected to the test application, no test document could ever be generated with the same ID as one in production because the prefix would be different. Genius!! Research revealed the above mentioned hard-coded values in the software layer.

But I am not so easily deterred in the face of idiot rules and results.

I did a SQL profiler until I found the SQL code that executed during the generation of a document ID, then looked at the SQL code and derived the likely candidates for this software layer bit. I then searched through the application dlls, downloaded a hex editor and opened up all the likely candidates until I found the one that contained the hard coded values. Then I changed the values and, with the assistance of someone who knew more about dlls than I did, recompiled the file and copied it into the test application directory, replacing the original dll. This took all of 15 minutes, not including the research time.

Voila! In our test application, documents were now generated with a different prefix ID. Of course, we were unable to admit we’d done this as it was (ahem) not exactly legal in the eyes of the application vendor. But we were now preventing serious production errors and saving the time to attempt to recover or recreate the original documents.

Sometime later, in meetings with the application vendor, the subject of generating different document prefixes came up. The vendor stressed how useful this feature would be (which they had previously scorned) and that it would be worth it for us to pay them thousands of dollars to write the upgrade to their code. There were many zeroes attached to their proposal. We declined.

Heh.

Oh, and the ironic beauty of this is that no one ever suspected the girl of having done this.

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I got books

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

I got books with maps. Old books.

Map of Asia

Entry on London

Purchase Price of Hampton Court Palace

Nice digs if you can get them.

Portion of Map showing Hampton Court Park

yeah. Stoke Poges. Heh.

Sorry. It’s the dark side of writing historicals. I love this stuff. I really do.

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First, some Humor….

Sunday, September 7th, 2008

xkcd comic about Sporks

That’s one of my all time favorite cartoons. And I love xkcd

I’m not procrastinating by the way. Yesterday, I pulled out the chapter outline for The Next Historical and added in all the new stuff and then rearranged the new and the old so I’d know what the new chapter order should be and which ones needed to be deleted. Two of them. The others I think have enough to warrant staying for a total rewrite. Then I reordered my chapters. Then I read Travels in Turkey and Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt (1844) and got some really good background information. But I had to also do some quick side research on The Levant Company to confirm a suspicion of mine about the Consuls. Uh, yes, it’s true. The British Consuls were appointed but apparently needed to be approved by the Levant Company which was kind of the Middle Eastern equivalent of the East India Company. Politics and commerce. Hand in hand.

Today, my son had a soccer game in a town about 35 minutes away after which we went to Art in the Park where he ate a lot of food and looked at art. I bought a couple of things that will go into the contest stash and a couple of things I liked for me. Then I went grocery shopping then we came home. I was at the computer for a bit and when I actually fell asleep sitting up for a minute, I figured I needed a nap which I did for 2 hours. Then dinner, then cleaning up and now blogging. And so, maybe I surfed the web a bit, maybe.

Anyhoo — off to get SOME work done because I have two deleted chapters to make up…

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Stuff and Stuff. Bascially.

Sunday, August 17th, 2008

I’ve been working on The Next Historical which has now so fundamentally changed from the days when I decided the working title should be The List, that every time I see that title I think What book is that?

So, from this day until I say different, The List is now officially The Next Historical (TNH)

The story now opens in Aleppo, Syria. I was toying with the notion of handling the story the way I did with the flashback chapters in Scandal but when I decided to write one to see if it worked, but mostly because I really really wanted to write the scene I had in mind, it turned out to be the real opening. We’ll see how this holds up.

In other news, I’m up too late. OK, so that’s not really news. But it’s still true.

Thank you to everyone who’s taken the time to email me about My Wicked Enemy. Lots of kind words make a writer feel good! Also, bookmarks are going out tomorrow. I have to buy more envelopes even after I found the missing box on the floor with a few envelopes left. I’ll send the rest after I remember to buy more.

Oh, and don’t forget! Time’s running out to join my newsletter and be automatically entered in my Wicked Cool Contest. Go sign up!

What you get with the newsletter: automatic entry in contests, advance notice of releases, and a warm and fuzzy feeling for being so cool as to like my writing enough to be on my mailing list.

Off to bed.

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The Fact Kitten Hey!

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

That would be me. Because I can call myself a kitten if I want to. And I am.

The Fact Kitten

Because I got one of the free Encyclopedia Britannica accounts. (Sometimes it pays to be a geek!) and today when I needed to know some stuff about Turkey in 1800 or so, I remembered I had the account and so I went. Heaven. Really. I was a kitten on her first dose of catnip ever. I learned a lot of stuff. Not necessarily about Turkey, though I did get the answers I needed.

I will now go there more often.

And, I met my minimum tonight, too. Exceeded it a bit.

I have to get to bed so I won’t be a wreck tomorrow.

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It’s a Red Stripe* Day — or finding info in the oddest places

Friday, July 6th, 2007

Coupla things before I succumb to another day of panic mode. So, I have this day job. In the words of Patti O’Shea, an Evil Day Job or EDJ. Yeah. I have one of those. I have to explain the EDJ in order for this post to make sense, sorry. I’m a SQL Server Database Administrator (DBA). As such, I work with Enterprise level databases that run on expensive hardware and software. Yada yada yada. As with most things that involve the need for the development of expertise, there are mailing lists. For the EDJ I belong to one such SQL Server mailing list. Mostly people post questions and answers about, well, yes, SQL Server. The list members are from all over the world. Literally. Not so interesting and not so relevant to the writing, you’d think. Au contraire!

For quite some time I have been jotting down the many cool and awesome names these people have. I’ve probably got at least 100 names. Some of which I am using in Magellan’s Witch. Not complete names. There are very few that are cool and awesome on a total name basis. Like, Harsh. There’s some DBA somewhere whose name, I think it’s his first name, but I’m not sure, is Harsh. Then there’s Kynan. Both of them are in Magellan’s Witch. So, I’ve been really pleased to be building up such a solid list of cool names. Today, I hit the motherlode. Not of names, but alcohol.

I’m not much of a drinker and I don’t watch TV or read many magazines that have liquor ads in them. This makes me clueless when it comes to choosing alcoholic drinks that alpha males might sit around drinking. This morning when I came to work there were already 150 emails from the DBA list, and fully half of them were of the subject Select unique records or something like that. Easy, easy thing to do in SQL.

SELECT DISTINCT [SomeFieldName] FROM [SomeTable]

So, like, 150 emails about this. Uh, no. 150 emails about what to drink on Friday nights, with amusing and even insightful comments. Like these:

Vodka… made by the French who we all know have been purveyors of fine Vodka since Czar Louis XIV was on the throne of Ireland….

What!!
I bloody well hope not!
As they’re [Boddington’s] canned/bottled in Manchester I ‘m assuming they’re using Imperial measurements… but then the UK measures stuff in that Froggy invented metric system… so god only knows…
Zut alors!

However, I do know that it just fills a pint pot fashioned after a German beer steinl [sic], whereas when I use a US standard beer glass I have to drink down the first third of the glass before topping it off… boo shame…

On a cold day you need Laphroaig or Lagavullin… perhaps Macallan or Dalwhinnie, Cragganmore or Talikser or Glenkinchie Single Island and Highland Malt whisky laddie!!!!

Yeah, I used to get Lagavullin for $40.00, not it hovers around $80, so at the bar I get Laphroaig for 6.50 (happy hour) or around $8.00. Lagavullin is $15.00 for a measured shot. Out of my league.

Of course, to be fair, I can get Lagavullin for $10.00 at other bars…
but still…

See? The motherload. I have like a page and a half of alcohol from around the world wisdom.

*Red Stripe, as probably everyone but me knows, is a Guinness beer, and it’s probably mentioned at least once a week. Big in the UK it seems.

OK, off to panic mode.

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