Weapons grade hot sauce

So anyway, we ran out of hot sauce last week.

As I’ve mentioned before, I like jazzing up my food with a splash of the ol’ pepper spray. In the absence of the amazing Dan-T’s White Hot Cayenne Pepper Sauce (still not available in the UK), I’ve been sticking to the tried and tested Encona Cajun hot pepper sauce (cayenne peppers). Occasionally, though, I do browse around for alternative flavours and new experiences.

Who Dares BurnsWhile snuffling through the sauces aisle at out local Safeway, I noticed a bottle I didn’t recognise. It looked hot, though, so I picked it up and checked out the label. It was “Who Dares Burns” from the Hot-Headz. In my travels across the web I had come across the Hot-Headz web site before, and they looked like pepper enthusiasts. I dropped the bottle into our shopping trolly with a satisfied grin.

Tried it tonight for the first time.

Oh. My. God.

And me an atheist, too.

This stuff isn’t hot sauce–it’s a Pepper Genie trapped in a bottle. And the only three wishes you get when you release it are “Make it stop hurting, make it stop hurting, make it stop hurting!

The flavour isn’t as good as Dan-T’s, but it’s hotter by an order of magnitude. I made the mistake of dipping my pinkie into the sauce and trying it neat before dosing my food with it, and it damn near took my head off. My throat constricted in a characteristic pepper burn reflex, and the ensuing cough brought tears to my eyes. I normally pour a generous teaspoonful of Encona hot sauce over a plate of gnocchi with bolognese sauce, but even a few meagre drops of “Who Dares Burns” was too much for comfort. After chugging a glass of cola and a glass of water, I had to resort to heavy duty flame retardant: milk.

I don’t know how long this sauce will last on the shelves of Safeway (how long before the first lawsuits?), but I’m glad to have had the experience.

(How glad I’ll be tomorrow when the experience progresses further through my digestive system, I don’t know.)

Related Links

ScreenSelect first impressions

I signed up for ScreenSelect.co.uk on Tuesday evening. I added sixty-odd films to my queue that first evening. On Wednesday, their web site showed that the first three had been posted, and on Thursday morning they all arrived. That’s quick!

The ScreenSelect web site is, at first glance, pretty good. It’s light-weight, and fast-loading, and the process of adding DVDs to your queue is one-click simple. What it lacks, though, is a better way of finding interesting DVDs to watch.

The main way to find a film is by its name, of course. Alternatively, you can look up an actor or director and see a list of all their work that is available. But one of the joys of a service like ScreenSelect is the process of snuffling around to find hidden gems, films of which you say, “I’ve always wanted to watch that!” and adding them to your ever-growing queue. You can browse by genre/category, but the sorting and filtering options are poor, and so far I always find myself with a selection that is too small or too big.

Alternatively, you can browse their “featured collections”, such as their “Top Picks”, “Recent Releases”, or “100 Top Thrillers”. The problem with these collections is their quality, or lack of it. “100 Top Thrillers”, for example, contains such gems as Nightstalker and Jaws 2 on the first page of results. Ummm. Could they really not find two better thrillers to pad out their top 100? In their desire to have the UK’s largest collection of DVDs to rent by post, they seem to have forgotten that the vast majority of films on release are actually rubbish.

It would be nice if the service could help me get past that junk, and help me select films I might like, but wouldn’t know to find on my own. Fortunately they do seem to have some kind of ratings and recommendations engine, but with only two films watched and rated so far, it’s too early to tell if this works.

The service allows you to submit little (up to 500 words) reviews of films you’ve seen, but their copyright terms are brutal: “Please note that all submitted reviews become the property of ScreenSelect Ltd., which reserves the right to edit or delete any submissions.” I’m happy to submit my ratings, but I can’t see myself contributing to their reviews database.

It would also be nice if reviews were indexed and hyperlinked by reviewer. That way, if you that someone liked a film, you could look up and see what else they liked. Likewise, it would be cool if you could link to other people’s film queues, or expose your own to the public. No go on on both of these ideas (yet), though.

(However, there are Movable Type plugins for screen-scraping and exposing a Netflix movie queue, so it shouldn’t be hard to knock together a similar thing for ScreenSelect. Except that I’ve given up Perl. Nngggnng….)

Overall, though, these are just niggles. It has been very easy to put together a queue of over 100 films in just a few days, and that ought to see me through well into 2005. Their delivery service seems to be fast and efficient, and £14.99 a month is an excellent price–especially when you consider that you don’t pay any postage charges. So would I recommend ScreenSelect? Based on these first impressions, definitely yes.

European Union Enlargement Day

To everyone in Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, the Slovak Republic and Slovenia: Welcome to the European Union!

Welcome to the EU

Personally, I’m looking forward to increased immigration from these countries, and to seeing more products from Eastern Europe on the shelves of British shops. I’m looking forward to seeing the new member states influence the identity of the expanded Union. I’m looking forward to easier travel arrangements, and new opportunities for tourism, student exchange, and cultural exchange. I’m grateful that my taxes are being used for an immensely ambitious project to share the wealth of Western Europe with a host of countries that are not so well off.

And no, speaking as a Socialist, I’m not being sarcastic.

So, again, to my new fellow Europeans: welcome. I’m glad to have you here.

Tip for a quieter PC

A dirty fan is a noisy fan. As dirt builds up around the blades of the fan, and between the plates of any heat sinks the fan might be attached to, the smooth air flow gets disrupted, which leads to turbulence, which leads to noise. Compressed air is your friend.