This Week In Zoe News

We saw Joan Baez in Manchester at the Bridgewater last night. Zoe got an acknowledgement from the stage and a spotlight. We met again with Joan and her crew. I think she thinks my name is “Bob” which I find amusing.

The show was excellent though weighted heavily toward classics. She did, IIRC, four songs from Whistle Down The Wind. Her voice was in good form which given all her touring is pretty impressive. The backup band remains awesome with Gabe’s percussion solo being a big crowd pleaser. The auditorium wasn’t quite filled but I infer that the Bridgewater messed that up by just not selling some sections behind the stage. (I know people who wanted tickets and were told “sold out”!)

Amusingly, our comped seats seem to have been double booked. But as we got there first, I don’t know how it was resolved.

I think I’m not such a fan of Bridgewater Hall for this sort of show. Compared to Ulster Hall in Edinburgh (which is similarly sized) it was more awkward visually and sonicly. The non proscenium stage undercut the dramatic visuals (esp early on) and I had more trouble hearing words than I did in Edinburgh. The crowd was a bit more passive too.

Still an excellent show. We had lots of friends who went so that was fun.

The performers and crew are a bunch of really sweet people who seem to be holding up well considering their schedule.

They’ll be back in Feb. I recommend getting tickets!

Thinking a bit about the set list, I think it’s unfortunate that she’s so constrained to do lots of classics. (And, as an audience member, I’m often wanting to hear classic songs from a performer. So I get it!)

Whistle Down the Wind is an evolution of her sound built around profound shifts in her voice. Of course, that vocal shift colours her whole performance, but I don’t think the classic songs were strongly reinterpreted. A show that was built around the new voice as much as Whistle is built around would be very interesting.

Addendum: I observed the famous British respect for signage.


Banana Diplomacy

Surprise surprise, Trump cancelled the North Korea summit. While not as foreordained as the summit not working or being cancelled in general, it was still a high probability event.

And make no mistake, the US is more aiming for a war than not. Bolton alone makes this true. Of course, war with Iran is in the cards too, and they’re a softer target.

But the people in charge right now are various kinds of irrational and bloodthirsty. The risk of bad bad things happening is ridiculously high.

We have to hope that Trump’s cowardice or erratically, plus Pentagon resistance keeps these bad things from happening.

Which isn’t comforting.

Coding Contests

Today was the annual staff-student programming contest. The top two groups were staff! My group was not one of the top two…or ten, but we weren’t last amongst the staff. So yay!

I, for one, would really need to practice. It’s all horrid word puzzles where being able to whip out a bit of dynamic programming would be very useful.

Working through Project Euler would probably help!

Though, I must say, I wouldn’t mind a collection of relatively easy problems. I’m just not up for the frustration of the harder ones for casual use. Maybe something like the Times crossword where each day it gets harder through Sunday.

There also is a weird tradition of freezing the score board for the last hour or half hour to raise excitement. It just sorta annoyed me! It’s a weird cultural oddity.

One thing really became clear: it’s super frustrating and difficult to try to debug something on hidden test cases. We were passing the given ones for one problem and had no idea why we were getting the wrong answer on the server. It’s an interesting illustration of the challenges of testing.

Quick Twitter Lib Update

God there are a lot of them. However the search one is right…you need a “premium” account (in beta!) to get older tweets. There’s a free tier there and I’ve applied for it.

Twython’s cursor is definitely broken and, afaict, basically loops over one page of results. Which makes it entirely pointless. Given the lack of adoption of an existing patch, it’s probably time to move on. Oh well!

Sunday Baking: Apple Rose Tarts, Seed Cake, and Zoe’s Currant Orange Cake

Still on the road, but there’s some fun baking from earlier. Uli’s birthday was last week and I planned to make a cheesecake because she loves them in spite of her lactose intolerance. But it didn’t happen (yet). So I did some other stuff and Zoe made her classic Orange and Fig cake but with currants because we didn’t have any figs.

So the Apple rose tarts. I love them. They are just so pretty and yummy. I use this recipe with the addition of rose jam. This week, in an effort to get them not to stick, I used muffin papers. They stuck to the papers!

Actually, once they cooled they didn’t stick that much.

My very first batch didn’t stick at all but I used rather a small amount of thick apricot jam (heated for application). The rose jam is much thinner and I want to glaze the tops as well. That gets us bubbly carmalized stuff which glues them in. Not much rose flavour comes through. Still, tons of fun.

This week I discovered the Rare Cooking blog where some folks at UPenn try to recreate old recipes they find in their European archives. The seed cake looked easy and fun and I love caraway and have a bit too much of it in my cupboard:

It came out super dry which I attribute to my 1) mindlessly going for the longer time and 2) forgetting to adjust temp for fan assist. Still light and the caraway shone through. You could cut the sugar by a lot (and I’d cut the 10 minute mixing time). I’m curious to pop in buckwheat flour as well.

Zoe’s orange and fig cake is a Tassajara recipe, I believe, and even with currants it is freaking delish:

This is the fabulous room we ate it in:

Adventures in iOS Python: Twitter Fail

After plenty of git frustration, I decided to push that off for a bit. I can always pony up for Working Copy and be done with it! (I still feel that I need to do some more due diligence with the command line option but I think I’ll need my laptop beside me.) Since, I’m on the road with Zoe, I thought it’d be worth doing something I’ve meant to do for a while: write a script that would extract tweets about “The President Sang Amazing Grace” and other songs from Whistle Down the Wind. This is both for my interest and it seems like it could make a good “data on the Web” exercise. Since I’m on the road, doing it on my phone (or iPad) seems reasonable.

And Pythonista has a cool built in Twitter module! Hurrah! No install fussing and code examples for my very environment!!!

You don’t have any Twitter accounts (or haven’t given permission to access them).

Well that wasn’t supposed to happen! I’m pretty sure back in the day I set up a system wide Twitter account so I should have gotten a dialogue box asking for permission. Bugger. Maybe my phone upgrade lost it.

Off to settings!

Er…I can’t find the setting! What the hell. Googling reveals…system wide updates are gone in iOS 11. And there’s no work around. (Maybe a note in the documentation would be sensible?)


Now we’re off to comparing libraries, the living nightmare of OAuth setup, and whether I can even install or use this libraries on my phone. SUCH FUN!

There seem to be at least four Python Twitter libs but I decided to try Twython first because, in spite of its rather dumb name, the discussion of authentication get better (albeit with a couple of holes, but it did set out clearly the read only and read write levels).

With only a bit of wrong turning, I was able to use pip to install Twython on my phone, set up a Twitter app, get an access token, and retrieve some tweets mentioning Zoe. Not bad! Rather civilised, actually.

Now I have to figure out how to get all such tweets. I wish the Twython docs discussed that but it seems not.

Still, progress!

(Note, I was able to get TIG talking with Pythonista by accident. I installed another client which seemed to trigger Pythonista to let me add more document providers. That option is gone again but not before I enabled TIG. Boo Pythonista!)