3D Printing

I'm still sick.

Really sick.

I remember feeling a bit sick when I was twenty, and thinking the world was out to get me. But that's nothing compared to how sick you can get when you go to the cleanest and shiniest, most superbly well maintained one year old's birthday party. The dribble alone could feed a bio warfare attack. It turns out twenty happy, healthy children extrude enough bacteria to drop every adult in attendance.

I don't think I've ever felt so old and tired and miserable.

Even the joint in my little toe aches.

I didn't even know there was a joint in my little toe.

It turns out I have two of them.

Everything hurts.

So I have nothing to blog about except that I found around 3 cubic foot of strawberry runners, and they are sitting on my kitchen floor in plastic bags topped off with a hand full of weeds, but still dying, because if I go outside in the cold I start a hacking cough that brings me right back to suck air from around the heater until I stop choking.

The only reason I'm even typing is because I'm hoping to get some karmic credit by (albeit misleadingly) making someone named mike (who has been a long time reader) briefly happy by making him think I was going to talk about 3D printing.

That was the best I could manage.

Mike has kindly offered to print anything I need on his 3D printer. I'm not sure if the offer extends to the rest of the world. I'd ask him if I were the rest of the world.

But more importantly, he also pointed me in an interesting direction which I wont talk about until I see if the people involved are all crazy or not.

This has to rank right up there as one of my most informative posts.

But enough about 3D printing, and more on baby-bio-hazard.

It can be like watching a clown pulling silk from its pockets.


And a bit scary.

It can just go on for ever.


An endless stream of colourful, bio-hazard drool that is always out there. 

It can't be bargained with. 

It can't be reasoned with. 

It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. 

And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. 

But it seems the real danger is in the well kept ones that aren't leaking all the time. 

Stealth babies.

Yep. Stealth baby-bio-hazard.

120 Things in 20 years sees me wondering if I'm the first person to come up with the "I missed, and kissed the air next to your forehead!" game, when it comes to kissing little people goodnight, in a desperate attempt to stay dribble free.

Aquaponics - Cucumbers!


I've been trying to grow cucumbers! for the entire time I've been involved with aquaponics, but have had a miserable time of it. I kept getting tiny cucumbers! that had failed to pollinate properly, and would shrivel up and die after they reached two centimetres in length.

But I just noticed this.

It's a cucumber!

Actually it's a stack of cucumbers!

I've been hand pollinating them with a cotton  bud. Q-tip? Whatever they call cotton on a stick in your part of the world.

It has worked.

That green thing on the one in focus is caterpillar poop.

120 Things in 20 years - Cucumbers!

Aquaponics - Carrot growth

My carrots are growing.

Which is nice.

They, or at least this one, looks like this.

Some stuff take a long time to grow.

I have very low levels of nitrate (plant num-nums) in my system due to having only two fish, and sleepy ones at that.

The water temperatures are sitting at around 10c, and the growhouse has similar air temperatures.

All that means my fish are almost dormant, and only eat a tiny amount every second day. No feed, and no activity mean no plant nutrient. I should have got some trout, (trout love the cold water) but I was waiting for some more silver perch, and also expected this grow house to keep temperatures up a bit higher. Unfortunately, the fish farm I normally get them from, had some kind of spawning fail, so I didn't get any.

In other news in the grow house, there is no new news. Everything is sleeping except lettuce.

I think I need to seal up my solar panel, and connect it to my fish tank heater. It's a 300 watt heater, which is quite powerful for a fish tank heater, but I suspect it won't do a lot in a thousand liters of water that's outside.

120 Things in 20 years needs to have bought a bigger and better grow house if it wanted decent aquaponics carrot growth.

Plagiarist - My previous post

Those who follow this blog will know that I go to a bit of effort to try to try not to rip off other people's ideas.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the internet today.

Yesterday I posted this...

     If you love something...

     Set it free...

     If it comes back to you...

     It's probably Stockholm Syndrome.

It was a little joke that occurred to me, that was inspired by an acquaintance the day before, telling me that he thought there was a component of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships.

But today I thought I'd search the net for the notion. Sometimes I ask google questions in plain english. eg "Hey google, do you know any good sourdough recipes?" Sometimes I copy and paste entire pages of stuff. Today I dumped my entire post in and found this tweet from someone named Pieter Rossouw . It's dated 5 days before my post and this is the first I've seen of it.

If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it's probably Stockholm Syndrome.
4:10 PM - 12 Jun 12 via Twitter for iPhone · Embed this Tweet


Stockholm Syndrome is something 23% of hostages experience (according to wikipedia) whereby hostages end up defending their abductors.

The name relates to something that happened in a bank robbery in 1973. Nearly forty years ago. As far as google and I know, there are no other references that tie Stockholm Syndrome and the "If you love something set it free, if it comes back to you, it's yours. If it doesn't, it never was." saying.  

Forty years, then two people come up with the same joke, word for word, five days apart.

I'm going to ask @PRossouw why he tweeted that this week. I've tried all kinds of things to see if there is any link between @PRossouw, my acquaintance, and me, but I cant find a thing. 

Anyway, it seems I plagiarized it without knowing. 

Sorry Pieter.


120 things in 20 years is guilty of plagiarism in my previous post.

Thinking - Caramel malt milkshakes

[edit from the future - it seems I stole this without knowing. See here for the slightly interesting story]

     If you love something...

     Set it free...

     If it comes back to you...

     It's probably Stockholm Syndrome.

120 things in 20 years understands that sometimes titles like "Thinking - Caramel malt milkshakes" won't do much for your google search rankings when the rest of your post is about sleep deprivation.

Thinking - Robots

When caught in a futuristic robot war, and treating the injured with a bit of field surgery, I'm not completely convinced that carrying a stainless steal kidney shaped bowl around all the time to dramatically drop removed bullets into would rank high on one's list of "must carry" luggage , yet it seems everyone's doing it.

That's all.

I just thought you should know.

120 things in 20 years wonders if it's the robots that are the worry.

Aquaponics - Algae eating suckfish death

The smaller of my two little algae eating fish died today.

It always looked a little off, and spent a few hours swimming upside down in the days after I first put them in there, but has since looked happy enough. I'm wondering if it got too cold for it. I was told they were happy in unheated water, but perhaps if it was already a bit sick...

The temperatures in my system, have been down around 10c the last few days.

I have a really bad cold, and have totally failed to seal up all the gaps in my grow house due to spending every spare minute of my life in bed. Those gaps include one big enough for me to get through.

I'm also not sure that this grow house really works. Even when it was first installed and was in the standard layout, it never seemed warm. I think I might need to investigate going back to a clear plastic version.

The other potential problem is that the relative size of the fish tank to the grow house means it acts as a massive heat sink, and takes 5 degrees of air temperature gain and turns it into 1 degree of water temperature gain. From memory, water has 5 times the thermal capacity of air, so that might be a large part of the problem.

In other words, a big grow house can heat a little fish tank, but a small grow house can't heat a large fish tank.

120 Things in 20 years discovers that sometimes an aquaponics algae eating suckfish can get dead due to a large thermal mass in your grow house (or something else). Who knew.

Bread - Sour dough with cheese starter success

My fake sour dough made with cheese starter actually worked.

I doubt it ever would have risen without the packet yeast, but the flavour was interesting.

It was also interesting that the texture of the dough was so different. I have no idea if it was because it was made with curds and whey, or if that's that's just a feature of something else I did that I have no idea about.

Many things baffle me.

But the loaf worked and tasted great.

Due to my temperamental camera (It's either not focusing properly, or missing altogether lately) I managed to completely fail to get pictures, but heres a "just in time" effort of the loaf.

I don't know why it was eaten from both ends like that. Perhaps someone found the crust particularly worthwhile, but at least I got a pic of the last slice.

120 Things in 20 years finds me in bed with a really bad cold, rather than dealing with my sour dough bread made with cheese starter successes.

Bread - Sourdough

So I thought I'd make some sourdough bread.

I looked some stuff up.

I discovered it had some lactobacillus in it.

That's what makes it sour.

I remembered from some earlier research, that that's the beastie that makes cheese, cheese.

Now normally you make sourdough by making a slurry of flour and water and waiting, then once it's been inoculated, you take half the slurry, and add it to your flour, and then re-feed the slurry with replacement flour and water. This way, you always have some alive and festering in the back of your fridge. That's called a sour dough starter.

There are apparently different kinds of beastie in different parts of the world, and thus, the traditional sourdoughs are different. even from village to village.

People and their marriages and social minglings are recorded in those peoples sourdough starters that fester in the backs of their fridges.

So because I dont know anyone with sourdough festering in the back of their fridge, but remembered I had some old cheese starter in the back of my own freezer, I thought I might try a shortcut.

I put some milk in a container with a little sugar and a little flour, then added a pinch of the cheese starter.

It's now halfway through it's first rising.

It looked really, really interesting when it was just a liquid.

120 Things in 20 years - Sourdough bread. My camera is stupid.

Vermiculture - Or worm farming

We have the same amount of kitchen scraps we've always had, but we no longer have a stack of animals that like kitchen scraps.

I think it's time I did something with it all, rather than sending it to landfill.

I'm going to make a worm farm.

I've started researching it, but from what I've seen so far, it seems there's really only one way to do it.

It seems the plan is, get a box with drainage holes full of scraps, and stick some worms in it.

Well that pretty much wraps up worm farming as a "Thing".

I've lost count of how many things there are now, and this blogger software has undergone some changes and a few thing don't work any more. One of them is the thing that showed "Things" at the top of the page.

120 Things in 20 years - Hang on! I've just had a vague vermicultural idea. My worm farming future just got complicated.

Bread - A recipe

3 2/3 cups bread making flour (sifted - it changes the weight if you don't sift it)

+An extra 1/3 a cup if needed (if the dough is too wet), and a bit for dusting your bench top surface when kneading.

1 1/2 cups warm milk ( 54 - room temperature - flour temperature (usually the same as the room temperature) = how warm the milk should be in degrees c)

1 egg yolk

1 1/2 teaspoons bakers yeast

1 teaspoon bread improver (just a product you can buy wherever you buy yeast)

1 teaspoon salt (minimum - I would add a little more perhaps and extra 1/2 tsp)

1 teaspoon sugar


I understand you should try to keep the pure salt away from the pure yeast as it can kill it. I'm not sure if it's true, but it's easy enough to make sure you mix the salt into your flour before you add yeast.

If you are trying to make this with a bread machine premix pack of flour, adding that much salt will make it disgusting because there is already things like salt, and bread improver in the premix stuff.

But you really need to buy a good quality bread making flour. All purpose flour is a compromise product to allow you to make something a bit like bread, or something a bit like cake.

Get bread making flour. It is such a different beast it should have a different name.


Mix your warmed milk, sugar, and the yeast in a bowl. You may as well drop your egg and the oil in there as well.

Whisk it up a bit, then let it stand. After a few minutes, you should see some bubbles forming from the yeast. This step is called proofing, and I'm guessing it proves your yeast is still alive. My first few attempts turned out to be made with dead yeast, and failed completely.

Those times, I made glue.

Crunchy golden glue, but glue.

Now, fill a bowl with the dry ingredients, and mix them up a bit.

Make a well in the centre and, if you can see some bubbles forming, add the wet stuff. Or if you like to take risks, and trust your yeast is alive, add it anyway.

Mix it around for a bit until its a lumpy thing that you think you might be able to pull out of the bowl. At this point you may need to add up to an additional 1/3 cup of flour depending on how soft you dough  is. The flour picks up moisture from the air, so you cant really have a recipe that gets it right no matter what.

Now don't pull it out yet.

Let it sit for 15 - 20 minutes so that the flour absorbs some water. This should reduce the kneading time a bit.

Now pull it out, and knead it. The idea here is to stretch it without tearing it. Probably the easiest way to do this is to put it on a lightly floured surface, and with the palm of your hand, push the top half away from you, then turn it around a bit, fold it back on itself, and repeat.

For ages.

Until the consistency changes to a silky smooth texture.

It should be so silky and smooth, that you can stretch it out like a window and see through it without seeing and lumpy irregular bits. Like a really grubby window that you cant actually see through. Not really like a window at all. More like thin dough.

Here's a really poor photo of it. Poor, partly because my camera is having trouble focusing for some reason, partly because I'm not so good at kneading, and also because this was my hand model's first try (Thanks Mrs 120 Things in 20 years)

Everyone says kneading takes around 10 minutes, but mine seems to take 20. No doubt you get better at it, but as a beginner I knead for much longer than 10 minutes.

Knead it for at least 15 minutes.

Then jam it into a tall thing. Dont use a bowl, because you have to wait until it doubles in volume, and nobody has any idea how much bigger a lump of dough has to be to have doubled in volume. I think a cylinder doubles in volume with a 10 % increase in diameter or something, a sphere, something about 2/3rds of the same size cylinder, and an irregular spheroid of dough... who knows.

Use a straight sided thing.

I use a big plastic water jug that has volume marks on the side. You can lightly oil the sides if you feel like it. This loaf went in at 1L.

And came out at 2L.

It doesn't get much easier to judge than that.

Put it in a warm place (in my case on the cup warmer of an espresso machine) at around 25c to get it to rise quickly, but I'm told the longer it takes, the more flavour it will have.

Once it's doubled in volume, turn it out onto a lightly floured, clean, dry surface. Try not to tear it as you get it out. Give it time and it will probably come out on it's own. If not gently coax it out by sliding your hand or a stick up the side between the dough and the container.

Now spread it out a bit and knock all the air out of it. It's called punching, but it's pretty gentle. Not like the punching I see on TV. More like a massage.

Get all the big bubbles out of it, then shape it roughly into the shape you will want it in. In this case a roundish blob.

The big bubbles at this stage wont tun into some nice looking rustic holes in your bread. they will just swell up and flake the top of your crust off, or burn.

Dough likes a rest.

That doesn't really mean anything, but it makes it easier to shape it after it's had a little lie down. If you have just handled it a lot and try to, say, roll it into a long thin loaf, it will keep springing back into a shorter one.

So give it a rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

I divided this dough into two portions, and this loaf shown here uses around half this recipe, but it's a small loaf. All of it could easily be used for a single loaf.

Now form it into a ball by endlessly tucking the sides towards the bottom. The idea here is to create a smooth, tight, membrane on top. One good way to do this is to cup your hands around the dough, with your little fingers slightly under it, but with the dough resting on a table. Then gently pull the ball toward yourself by a half inch or so, this moves the side closest to you under the ball, and stretches the top. Then you rotate the ball slightly and repeat until you have the desired result.

Smooth, tight, membrane. This holds the loaf in shape and stops it from becoming a puddle. It also keeps the air in and make's it rise a bit better in the oven. The photo below shows a bit of a failure to make that nice thin membrane, because after I did my best, I patted the loaf flat with my hand.

Now place it into or onto whatever you are going to put into the oven with it. You don't want to have to pick the thing up to put into an oven. Experts can do it but I cant, and there's a fair chance that if you've read this far without being disgusted at my methods, you are also a beginner, and thus you cant either. I shaped mine into a flatter disk to stop it hitting the lid of the container I bake it in. But it get's quite delicate after it's final rise, and it's easy to ruin it with rough handling

I put my bread in a deep, non-stick frying pan with the handles removed. This thing also has a glass lid, so I can see what's going on, and hold some steam in.

Now leave it to rise until it doubles in volume. This is tricky and you just have to guess. I found the more I let it rise, the less it rises in the oven. But I'm basing that on a pretty small sample with every one being a different recipe, so try to ignore that.

But don't let it get too big.

Mine looked like this when I guessed it was ready for the oven.

I have no idea if that's double the volume. It's very deceiving.

But it's close.

The first ones I let rise until they were double the width and height. That's six times the volume or something crazy.

Next, it's time to wet the top surface of the loaf with water, slash it and add seeds.

I did that in the wrong order, but that's ok.

So I wet it, then did this with my razor bread slashing thing, or Lame.

Then this.

A very important thing to do to get that extra rise in the oven is to heat it from the bottom. Once again, this allows the rise before a crust if formed on the top. Once the crust forms, unless the loaf cracks open, it cant expand any more. I put a stack of cast iron stuff into my oven at the bottom to collect some heat and preheat my oven to flat out. That combined with having my loaf in a sealed container seems to do the trick pretty well.

Real bread ovens have the option to add steam when you first put the bread into the hot oven.

This stops a crust from forming too soon, and allows the bread to do a sudden extra rise in the first few minutes of being put in the oven. You can throw some water into your very hot oven to do the same, but risk burning yourself, breaking your glass door, and wrecking your electronics. If you cover your loaf, you can get a similar result because the bread puts out some steam of it's own. If it's sealed in, it can do the trick, but I also add a bit of water to the container just before it goes into the oven.

I also leave my oven flat out, and don't remove the lid during cooking. So my oven is at 250c the entire time and it takes around 20 minutes for rolls, and 30 minutes for a round loaf of around 225mm or 9 inches. My pan is only 10 inches wide, and it's all I've got so that's the biggest loaf I could do.

You can tell a loaf is done when it sounds hollow when you tap it.

Your oven will be different, so cook it 'till it's cooked.

It will look exactly like this when it's done.

120 Things in 20 years - A bread recipe. I think I got most of that in the correct order.

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