Archive for June, 2016

My Trip to England: Day 11 and Final

June 30, 2016

Nothing very English about today. Got up early and finished packing — left all of my used underwear in the trash can because otherwise there was not enough room for the swag. Jen and I shared a taxi-van to Heathrow. Turns out that a two way share is slightly cheaper than a single person riding the train to Heathrow via London. Very enjoyable ride through a green and pleasant land — southern Cambridgeshire and Huntingtonshire.

At Heathrow, I found that the nice lady from British Airways who helped me on Day 1 had messed up the ticket and so we had to go through it all over again. I didn’t mind, because I had eight hours to kill (one of the drawbacks to shared transport). There had just been a bombing at the airport in Ankara, Turkey, and security was high — Army guys with automatic weapons, and police with bomb dogs wandering around. Still, there was a certain EuroSanity about it, with none of this silly remove your belts and your shoes business.

HiMyNameIsCasey

Hi! My name is Casey!! You got a bomb for me? Or maybe a cookie?

The trip back was about as expected. Long and boring. I watched a Japanese movie based on a Manga (Orange). I watched the first 10 minutes of the 2016 release of the movie “Dad’s Army“. Sorry guys, you just couldn’t pull it off. I had more footroom than on the trip out because I was in a center section and didn’t have to fight for space with the USB router box (as I now discover). Tried to stay awake, and mostly succeeded.

In Seattle, the basic ineptness of the US  border control mafia was on display. Passport processing was relatively easy because there were around 20 automated machines to let you do the work of border control official. Foreigners had a slightly longer ordeal. Then the two streams, totalling about 300 people, merged again, and flowed to the immigration checkpoint — two stations. Of course there was a big pileup (solar physicists would call it a shock front), and we had to wait.

After that, it was clear sailing down to pick up our bags and head out through a short, poorly lit corridor and around a corner to …. some additional TSA checkpointing. Unlike the highly alert UK on the edge of a recently bombed Continent, TSA wanted belts and shoes off and even paper out of the pockets and ran me through the particle accelerator scan — twice. Turns out my beltless trousers were too baggy for the machine, which missed the Garmin I’d forgotten I had strapped to my ankle. All in all, it took me longer to get back into the States, than it me to get into the UK, or onto a UK plane.

BA had  pre-booked me on AK Airways, so I only had a five hour wait in Seattle. Ate at Wulfgang Puck’s. Had a dinner pizza, in this case a pizza disk heated up with a cheese and mushroom topping, with arugula lettuce added, post baking, as a final topping. As they say on MJ’s favorite TV program, “I’m sorry, Wulfgang”, but you’ve been chopped.

Got home at 12:15AM. Slept well.

Corned beef oats

June 30, 2016

This is more variations on a theme, rather than a major new item. I’ve done a number of experiments with corned beef, and cabbage, leftovers in oatmeal. This time we had slow-cooked a corned beef slab, with root vegetables, for eight hours on low, in enough water to just cover. Added cabbage a half-hour before the end. Result wasn’t exciting, but that might have been the cut of the meat, or the cutting of the meat. The broth, however, was great. There was close to two quarts of it. This is my best result:

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of slow-cook corned beef and cabbage broth, a quarter cup of chopped raw cabbage, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the cabbage at the eight minute point, and the potatoes at the end.

Results: Most excellent. Will do this again. Adding a teaspoon of yellow or brown mustard to the broth helped. Or you could add pepper (we didn’t use the spice packet). The only reason it didn’t get five stars is because it didn’t make me do an Aristotle and run down the street shouting “lend me a towel”.

Rating: *****

My Trip to England: Day 10

June 29, 2016

Last full day in-country. Second day of the workshop. Started early, ran long. Did some final shopping and said goodbye to Henry VIII

No, I don't know what he's doing, either

No, I don’t know what he’s doing, either

On the way to get a cab we saw the mayor’s office at The Guildhall hanging out some post-Brexit flags.

Cambridge wants in

Cambridge wants in


I guess some folks didn’t like the outcome.

My Trip to England: Day 9

June 28, 2016

Today was the big day, my 2hr workshop for systems science students at Cambridge University. Actually, it was for everyone from anywhere — at least one person came up from London. The talk went reasonably well, and we had a nice lunch in the Eagle — the same pub that Crick and Watson used to hang out in (and the first bar I have seen that had San Miguel on tap).

Good beer, good food, good talk

Good beer, good food, good talk

Afterwards I did some shopping — I think I’m going to have to leave some clothes behind in order to fit all the new stuff in.

Went back to the hotel for a bit of a nap, then out again to find a pub for dinner. It turns out that the England/Iceland football match was on, and the first pub, half a kilometre from the hotel, was filled to standing with athletic-looking guys, cheering and shouting. Another half kilometre and I came to a second pub. Open mic night for prospective bar bands. But there was an open patio, away from the noise, where I could sit and drink and read my kindle.

On the way home I walked down this road. It’s typical of half the roads in Cambridge.

Two lane road. Can you spell narrow?

Two lane road. Can you spell narrow?

The other interesting thing about that picture is that it was taken at nine-o’clock at night, normal exposure.  Summer days in England are long. Of course, in the winter, you’re going to work and coming home in the dark

My Trip to England: Day 8

June 27, 2016

Nothing significant to report. Spent all morning in my hotel room (no a/c), working on tomorrow’s presentation. Spent all afternoon at Jen’s (no a/c but the windows open), working on tomorrow’s presentation. Spent all evening trying to get anime on Crunchyroll.

My Trip to England: Day 7

June 26, 2016

Today was a down day. Ran down to London to meet some friends I hadn’t seen for 40 years.

Darby and Joan

Darby and Joan

We just walked around London, and rode the tube here and there. London Transport is serious about safety. They have signs everywhere.

Mind The Gap

Mind The Gap

and they mean it. This gap is 8″ wide and 6″ high.

No, really. Be careful.

I don’t think they would allow this in Japan

We had a long discussuin about Brexit. They are for exit “because the country is filing up.”

Meanwhile, back in the US, some more important things are happening.

Her name is Music

Hi! My name is Music

She seems to be fitting in well

I have many friends

I have many new friends

My trip to England: Day 6

June 25, 2016

Hotel in Cambridge is nice, in a small, two-star sort of way. The room is bigger than the one in London.

Two mats bigger than the JR hotel

Two mats bigger than the JR hotel

The view out the back is of the green buffer zone around the airport — hedges and grass and … rabbits.

Watership Hotel

Watership Hotel

There’s a paved footpath across the commons, and I took a walk in the cool of the morning.

Nothing like this in Cheney

Nothing like this in Cheney

The path takes you past a small Army Reserve training area, complete with an assault course, warning signs, and … rabbits.

Only combat troops and rabbits allowed

Only combat troops and rabbits allowed

Late that morning, I walked to Jen’s for a grant-writing meeting. Afterwards, she took me on a foot tour of Cambridge. We were going to get dinner at this posh restaurant she knew about, but we got caught in a T-storm and ducked into a little bistro across the street from this building.

There's some goood eating near here.

There’s some goood eating near here.

Garmin says I did 9.6 miles today. I think that’s wrong. Google Maps says the distance from the hotel to Jen’s (plus my morning walk) covered almost exactly 4 miles (pretty much a straight line), while the Garmin swore blind it was six. Checking the settings, I find that some update or other wiped my stride length, so the Garmin was just guessing.

Memories of my youth: Brexit

June 24, 2016

In 406 AD, the last of the Roman legions in Britain were withdrawn to the continent to support the pretender Constantine III. In 410 AD, Honorius, the victorious emperor, wrote a letter to the cities of Britain saying that from here on out, they were responsible for their own safety. The Empire had abandoned Britain. There are those in Britain who never forgot this betrayal, even unto modern times.

Fast forward 1560 some years, and Britain is trying to decide whether or not to join the European Community. A friend of ours — an old man who was in the Fire Service in WWII and knew so much ancient Greek history that we called him Archimedes — was adamant that because Europe had abandoned Britain in 410, there was no reason to support them in 1973. He said that if the UK gave up their sovereignty like that, he was going to emigrate to New Zealand.

Fast forward another three years. The UK is in the EEC. We are back in the US. We send our usual Christmas card. Some weeks later we get it back “Moved to New Zealand. No forwarding address.”

There have always been Britons who looked with distrust on any relationship with The Continent.

My Trip to England: Day 5

June 24, 2016

Woke up early to the sounds of thunder. Nasty, but fast-moving set of storms passed directly over London and my hotel. FlashBang close.

The Hotel. I'll have more to say about this when I revise these entries.

The Hotel. I’ll have more to say about this when I revise these entries.

Had planned to go out while traffic was low but it stayed pouring rain until 10AM. Had an early lunch with Jen, and we set off for Cambridge. Of course we went through King’s Cross, and of course they had a Platform Nine and Three Quarters set up. Not however, between platforms 9 and 10, but off to the side, where the crowds wouldn’t interfere.

Platform Nine and Three Quarters.

Platform Nine and Three Quarters, the tourist version.

After which we had a nice train ride through rolling green countryside, to Cambridge. It was raining there, the traffic was horrible, and that’s a story for tomorrow.

Lobster Dashi

June 23, 2016

The other day we were in a celebratory mood. Or maybe we were depressed. In any event we needed to treat ourselves, and how better than to buy a small steak and a couple of lobster tails. The steak divided, the lobsters eaten, the only thing left were the shells — to the pressure cooker! I cooked the two shells and other detritus in two cups of water, with a sprig of marjoram, on high for 30 minutes. After the broth had cooled, I put in one two-inch slab of kombu seaweed and let it soak overnight. In the morning, I heated a cup of the dashi until it was steaming, then removed the seaweed. The broth was clearly dashi, but it was distinctly different from the standard bonito-based variety.

The first morning I added a dash of shoyu. The second morning, I added a teaspoon of chopped ginger (from a jar).

(more…)

My Trip to England: Day 4

June 23, 2016

Today was the big day. Up early to check out the facilities. Session room is small and stuffy, about par for the course. Nobody embarrassed the side too badly, and I got one complement.

To get to the session room you go into this guy's lab, and across his bridge.

To get to the session room you go into this guy’s lab, and across his bridge.

Attendance was poor, but it was, after all, the last day of the con.

That evening I did a bit of a walkabout. Crossed over Waterloo Bridge — lots of cyclists, lots of joggers, all fleeing the city.

The Thames, looking East to the Shard and St. Pauls.

The Thames, looking East to the Shard and St. Pauls.

I promised MJ we’d come together next year. The Southbank area seems a good place to do things.

The Thames, looking West towards Westminster. Many of the props from the Harry Potter movies are still in place.

The Thames, looking West towards Westminster. Many of the props from the Harry Potter movies are still in place.

My Trip to England – Day 3

June 22, 2016

Up early and had my now-standard breakfast of pancakes, mushrooms, fried potatoes, and boiled ham. Off to register for the conference and have a look around campus. Parts of the campus are new, and parts are old. Here’s one of the old ones:

Kings College Chapel, London branch

Kings College Chapel, London branch

That night there was a dinner — small and sparsely attended (this is, after all, London). The meal itself was quite odd: goat curry, vegetable curry (mostly sweet potato) and vegetable salad, also mostly sweet potato

Curried Curry

Curried Curry

Add some rice, an adequate white wine and an inadequate red, and you are ready to go. And sorry, England, sorry, India, I like the Japanese version of curry better.

My Trip to England: Day 2

June 21, 2016

Up earlier than I wanted — jet lag. Morning rain, so I stayed inside, prepping for the conference. To dinner with one of the other presenters, then walked her to St Pancras station, stopping to look at the sights on the way.

Memorial to the members of the British Army who died in the Iraq War. Not that one, the other one. No, the other other one

Memorial to the members of the British Army who died in the Iraq War.
Not that one, the other one. No, the other other one

On the way back there was a beautiful Solstice Moon hanging right next to The Eye.

Green Thumb Up My Nose

June 20, 2016

Garden Report for 160620

Lots of shade by the 4th

Lots of shade by the 4th


So it’s been almost a month since my last garden report, and there’s still not a lot to report. Weather was mostly of the June Gloom sort, with a frost warning just last week. But now it looks like we’re headed into the 80’s.

Things continue to slog along. The cool weather means that most plants haven’t grown very much, but it also means that the cabbages have not yet bolted. I’m pleased with the growth of the hops. They’ve filled in a lot since last month.

We have a couple of early deck tomatoes just starting to break, and a small finger of a zucchini coming along. Harvested two volunteer butterball lettuce, and had some of our snow pea pods in the resulting salad.

My Trip to England – Day 1

June 19, 2016

Preliminary notes. Will be organized into a separate web page, just like my Japan trip, although I probably won’t spend as much time talking about toilets.

The trip over was sortof not bad. British Airways 777. Minimal leg room, and what there was was taken up by a space-heater-looking box under the seat ahead. Seat itself was comfortable enough that my back didn’t die from 9hrs sitting in it. Heavy turbulence almost the whole way.

Spent an hour or so running around rescheduling flights and hotels (see previous entry). The downside of booking ggggggggggggggggg* everythingg through a travel agent is that many changes have to go through them as well.

After too big of a mixed grill and rather too much cask-conditioned beer, I wended my way back to my hotel room. Small, overheated, noisy. On the other hand, the headboard does have two USB ports.

One mat bigger than the room in Kobe

One mat bigger than the JR hotel room in Kobe

And now it’s 5AM, even though my body says 9PM. Time to get on with the day.

 

*The ‘g’ keycap on my 10 year old MacBook just came off.

Memories of my youth: MJ carries on.

June 18, 2016

It was the early 70’s. We hadn’t been married very long, and were still living in England. Back then, the British tradition was that worker strikes would cause rolling electricity blackouts every winter. It might be the electrical workers in the coal-fired power plants. It might be the train crews of British Rail, who hauled the coal. Or it might be coal workers themselves, in the black pits of Lancashire. Whoever it was, you could be sure of ending up with four hours of power, at the most inconvenient times. This time it was the coal workers.

We had just moved into a new house, third and last of our homes in the UK, in a small town north of Cambridge. The others had been furnished. This one was also furnished: bed, sofa, kitchen table, two straight chairs, and a TV. We went out and splurged on new furniture, to be delivered when available, and went home to our cold and somewhat Spartan digs.

Well, MJ went home. I went to Crete on a deployment to support some Army units that were training on the missile range at Souda Bay. It was a month in the sunshine of the Eastern Med (but it was March, so not so warm), working every three days when a new Army unit rolled in. The harbour at Kania was a little gem (some Hollywood stars have bigger pools), with fishing boats moored alongside, and octupi drying on lines next to them. We sat at a little cafe and drank retsinated wine and dined on calamari and moussaka.

A month later and it was over. We flew back in our C-130, loaded with souvenirs. I got back to the house in the dark of a high latitude afternoon, and met a bunch of workmen getting into their truck. The power cuts had ended that morning, and the furniture had just been delivered. MJ seemed a little miffed, for some reason.

Now, almost half a century later, MJ is sitting at home with a shattered shoulder and no idea of when the replacement surgery will be, nursing one of our favourite dogs, who is dying of cancer. Or maybe dying of chemo is a better phrase.

And me? I’m heading out to the airport for a two-week trip to London and Cambridge. MJ seems a little miffed.

Chicken Noodle Oats

June 16, 2016

MJ was off doing churchly things the other night and I was left on my own, to fend for yourself, as she put it. I’m used to fending, so I dug around the kitchen and found a half-used can of spaghetti sauce and a half-empty box of miniature spaghetti — thin spaghetti noodles about an inch long, terrible for winding on your fork (even if you use a spoon), but good for a quick spaghetti dinner. I ate all the sauce, but there was a cup or so of noodles left. Noodles and sauce are about as hard to balance as milk and cookies. The next morning I mixed about a half a cup of them (it’s hard to measure noodles) with this week’s chicken broth.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, half a cup of leftover miniature spaghetti noodles, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Most excellent. Tasted just like chicken-noodle soup with added oatmeal. You need a good, strong broth though.

Rating: *****

Anime Preview Summer 2016

June 15, 2016

The Summer of 2016 looks to be a dull one, anime-wise. Fortunately, I’ll be travelling a lot and won’t get to see much of it.

Unlike others, who use knowledge of the source materials, close observation of the previews, and who actually read the press releases, I’m going to base mine on just the AniChart cover art and maybe a bit of the description.

CUTE GIRLS: Most of the shows fall into the cute girls category, and the only thing that differentiates them is how many girls there are.

Magus One girl meets horny skeleton

Magus
One girl meets a skeleton

Mari Waka Two girls do time travel

Mari Waka
Two girls steal a star-gate

Amanchu Three girls do flamenco

Amanchu
Three girls learn flamenco

Kono Bijutsu-bu Four girls do art

Kono Bijutsu-bu
Four girls do art

Ange Vierge Five girls play cards

Ange Vierge
Five girls play cards

Rewrite Six girls live in a tree

Rewrite
Six girls live in a tree

Love Live Sunshine Nine girls do music

Love Live Sunshine
Nine girls chase pigeons

Tsuki-uta Twelve guys present all those girls

Tsuki-uta
Twelve guys present all those girls

BUT THERE’S MORE TO LIFE THAN GIRLS: Four non-cute anime that I probably won’t watch, either

91 Days A whole academic quarter under the Classics mafia

91 Days
A whole academic quarter with the Classics Mafia

Fukigen na Mononokean The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Fukigen na Mononokean
The road to Fuji-San is beset with demons

Cheer Danshi Anime's first big Hollywood musical

Cheer Danshi
Anime’s first big Bollywood musical

Handa Kun God has an ahoge

Handa Kun
God has an ahoge

So that’s it. 91 days of nothing to see here, move along.

Fun with RSS

June 14, 2016

As I said in an earlier post, I recently dropped the Opera browser after almost 20 years of having it as my primary. Now, I am using Firefox for my browser, with Thunderbird as my RSS feed reader.

When first installed, every time I clicked an RSS link in Thunderbird, it would open a tab in Firefox, and then jump to that tab. If I wanted to continue my screening I had to <Alt-Tab> back to Thunderbird. Every. Time. It was tiresome, but acceptable.

About a week ago, something happened. Not sure what (there was a solar eclipse, but that was back in March; maybe it was the Gotthard tunnel). I certainly hadn’t touched the settings for either Thunderbird or Firefox. Suddenly, whenever I clicked on a link, a tab in Firefox would open up, but I would stay on Thunderbird! Interesting. At first I was irritated, because I didn’t know if the click had taken or not. After a while, I learned to trust the click, Luke, and my screening sped up (I’m following over 100 RSS feeds).

A day or so ago, equally unheralded, the behavior switched back. When I clicked on a link in Thunderbird, it would once again open a tab in Firefox and immediately jump there. It was like running into an old flame. I was once interested, but I’d moved on. What to do? To the Googlemachine!

Mozilla Help wasn’t much help, at first. Pretty much all their articles were superbasic (left click to open a set of menu choices...) or superunbasic (this has been noted as a bug in build 120.386.297.4323, a simple code edit and recompile will solve the problem until the next dot release…). It wasn’t until I’d actually typed in the text of my question, instead of just key words, that it gave me anything useful.

The behavior is the browser’s fault. To fix it in Firefox you have to edit the config file using About:config. I don’t want to release any spoilers, so your best bet is to read the original article, which includes hints for Chrome as well. Sorry IE users — you are SOL, but you knew that anyway.

LinkedOut

June 13, 2016

Professional networking site LinkedIn has just been bought out by Microsoft. The deal was for $26.2billion.

If you’ve read this blog very long or very often, you know I am a long-term skeptic of Microsoft, in a from Hell’s depth I stab at thee sort of way. They are monopolists and bullies, and they are technologically not all that great and have had to borrow from Open Source. Their criminal acts killed competing browsers and operating systems, and their funding of bogus lawsuits attempted to kill the Open Source world itself — and they laughed about it and patted themselves on the back. Under new leadership, their Windows X malware update campaign shows they have not changed at all.

I don’t know what their plans are for LinkedIn, but whatever they are, they are not good for the tech community. There’s not much I can do about it, but what I can do is drop my LinkedIn account, which I did this morning.

At last report, LinkedIn had 433 million members, although there’s no indication of how many are active. Now, $26.2billion / 433million = $60 per member, roughly. So I can’t say I did them much damage, but I did my best, and I hope they like their new $26,199,999,940.00 purchase.

UPDATE: I find that LinkedIn has 106 million active members, which are worth about $250 each. So my dropping out has done four times the damage I thought it would. Well done, FoW, well done.

I wish I had a daughter, so I could forbid her to marry him.”

The trains of Shirobako

June 12, 2016

So, what’s with it with Shirobako and trains, anyhow? Train references keep cropping up at the most unusual times. If they had brand names, I’d say it was product placement, but these don’t. It’s as if director Mizushima wants to create a drinking game or something, or maybe because he thought it up while riding on a train.

It starts in Episode 1, where the first shot you get after the beginning of Exodus, the anime-within-the-anime, is of a train, possibly a track maintenance train, pulling into a station. It’s not mentioned in any way, and the next shots are of the various Musashino Animation people with Exodus playing in the background.

Just doing a little maintenance. Nothing to see here.

Just doing a little track maintenance.
Nothing to see here.

Jumping ahead to Episode 10, we have college student Imai Midori, soon to be known as Diesel San, researching a question about trains for Miyamori Aoi

Jane's Book of Trains

Jane’s Book of Trains

She tells her that the only diesel train running on the line is a track maintenance train. If it was a reference to the train in Episode 1, then that was the only shot of what was going on in Exodus.

ShirobakoEp10TrackMaintenance

Next, Miyamori Aoi heads to Sawara Studio to deliver a musical instrument, and gets roped into providing all sorts of sound effects.

Give me a monster roar that's just a little sexy

Give me a monster roar that’s just a little sexy

The sound editor mixes in a train sound to Miyamori’s gaaow give it a little ballast, or something.

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Nothing says feminine ferocity like a train

Finally, in the last episode delivery montage in Episode 24, we have Okitsu Yuka driving past a train on her way to her destination

Welcome to Japan Rail

You may be fast, but we are cute

Whether it’s a product placement, or a JR homage,

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

Welcome aboard Japan Rail

…or maybe somebody’s daughter, it’s a fun and unexpected aspect of my favorite anime.

Comments on Comments on Shirobako

June 5, 2016

Author has an interesting pair of comments on Japanese cultural aspects of Shirobako over on ani-nouto. He appears surprised that anyone would want him to blog about them, and seems to think they are obvious, but I can assure him, and you, that they are anything but.

The first is the phrase “make a living at X”, which in Japanese comes out as “eat by doing X”. Crunchyroll has the direct translation, but the US release blu-ray uses the English term.

Or even make a living at...

Or even make a living at…

The comment-worthy aspect of this is the dropping-the-donut scene where the rookie loses it, and old-hand Yasuhara-san catches and eats it.

The other point was a deconstruction of the 3rd Flying Girls Squadron author comments about the manga representing his inner turmoil. The discussion is more complex and nuanced than the “making a living” comment, so I’ll just point you at the original page.

The point of all this is that to understand socially-based content from a society as different as that of Japan requires multiple translations, and expert commentary. I noticed the frequent references to eating, but didn’t really map them to making a living, and even when I did, I didn’t pick up on the other aspects. That’s what makes watching anime so much fun, and so confusing.

 

 

 

 

Black Chicken Oatmeal

June 2, 2016

MJ went out to lunch with friends yesterday, and came home with a doggie bag for me — she’s a light eater, and I don’t mind dog food. It was a strangely jarring meal of adventuresome ideas that didn’t quite work. First was the blackened chicken. Blackened, to me, means heavily black peppered, which makes it taste a little hot, but not capsaicined. This time, the chef decided that if spicy was good, then spicy would be even better, and added a generous amount of red pepper. Too, too spicy. Then there were the french-fries, made from sweet potatoes. Normally I like them, but here, the chef remained adventuresome and seasoned them with what I think was cinnamon. Didn’t work. Finally, there were noodles with an unidentified herb, that also didn’t go. It was like this guy was the first one to get dropped on the cooking show Chopped.

Nonetheless, I stood by my motto: If it’s leftover, it’s breakfast. Chopped up the chicken and the potatoes (I’d finished the noodles the night before) and mixed them in with the oatmeal. Kept a handful of shredded cheese and a tablespoon of sour cream on standby for if the heat remained too hot.

Setup: 1/3 cup of stone ground rolled oats, one cup of broth, about half a cup of the chicken and sweet potato mix, two dinner teaspoons of potato flakes, salt. Cook for 10 minutes or so, depending on the exact style of oats. Add the potatoes at the end.

Results: Marginal. Still too spicy. Shredded cheese helped, as did the sour cream. Not inedible, but not something I’d serve company. Or the dogs.

Rating: *****