Sauteed beef with extra potassium

Today was not a good day for J. She’s been dropping down her dose of the Dexamethasone which she’s been on since April last year to keep the oedema around her tumour under control. Over the last week or two she’s hit the crossover point, where what the Dex is providing is no longer masking what the body’s natural systems provide. It’s rather weird, definitely obnoxious, and very frustrating because it means that she has to slow down the weaning-off process. If she didn’t, her risk of things going really bad would skyrocket.

Today was not a good day because she woke up very tired and nauseous (moreso than normal); the motilium didn’t seem to take the edge off. Then she pulled a muscle in her thigh, and later pulled a calf muscle. All without actually doing anything. After a bout of Doctor Googling later, we reckoned that she might have a touch of adrenal insufficiency, and a potassium deficiency. The heat of the last week or two, coupled with the stress of Christmas and C’s birthday party (not forgetting the underlying stress from the fact that our house still isn’t fixed yet after the storm on 18 November), makes that joint hypothesis seem quite possible.

When she was pregnant with A, she suffered from Restless Leg Syndrome, for which our OB prescribed a 1/4 teaspoon of Epsom Salts dissolved in a glass of water, every evening before bed. That chemical intake redressed the imbalance and solved RLS for her then, and we hope it would do so again today. It appeared that this might not be the case, unfortunately.

Trying to do my bit to help, I checked which foods have high potassium levels and found We have several of those in our pantry and fridge right now, so the beef noodle stirfry plan was ditched in favour of this recipe:

  • 300g beef sliced very thinly (across the grain)

  • 100g baby spinach, finely shredded

  • a handful of snow peas, topped-n-tailed

  • 80-100g sun dried tomatoes

  • 1 head of broccoli

  • 1 cup of mushrooms, chopped

  • a few cloves of garlic, shredded or finely chopped

  • 1/4 long red chilli, finely chopped

  • 1 leek, finely shredded

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil

  • 1/8 cup (around 30ml or 1 fluid ounce-ish) soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon of honey (to taste)

  • freshly cracked pepper, to taste

  • 150-200g of fettucine

  • approx 50g of shredded parmesan cheese

[The above quantity of ingredients served two adults and two toddlers, it would probably have been ok for three adults if more vegies were served with the dish. Your mileage will vary.]


  • Heat a frypan (heavy, steel-based) to a high heat

  • Add the oil, ensuring you cover the entire frypan

  • Add the beef, quickly stir-frying it to a light brown colour

  • Turn the heat down to the lowest possible setting, then

  • Add the leek, mushrooms, garlic and chilli then put the lid on and simmer for 5-6 minutes

  • Meanwhile, start cooking your fettucine (or other pasta, if preferred)

  • Add the soy sauce, broccoli and sun-dried tomatoes to the frypan, stir through and then replace the lid for 2-3 minutes

  • Do a taste check and then add the honey, mixing it in to the liquid in the pan first, then stirring through

When you are just about ready (ie, less than 1 minute to go) to serve, stir the baby spinach and snow peas through. Serve on to a bed of fettucine, then sprinkle the parmesan cheese on top.

If you like, add other vegetables. I cooked carrots, and would have steamed some zucchini if I’d had some in the fridge. If you’re so inclined, a bubbly white wine (I’m a big fan of Prosecco) would go nicely with this dish.

You might think “oooh yuck, that’s going to be really salty” because the soy hasn’t had enough other liquid to dilute into, and without the honey you would probably be right. However! The point of this dish is first and foremost to provide a potassium hit for a person in need of redressing a chemical imbalance. J remarked that she didn’t find it too salty at all. I thought it was only a little bit saltier than I would normally have served up – I try to cook with as little added salt as possible.

I don’t have an estimate of the calorie count, or the per-serve cost; I will try to provide those by the end of this week.

J’s having an early night (she was nearly asleep by 8:30!), I just hope that I’ve been able to help. We’ll see.

Update: I forgot to mention that J loved the dish.

Further Update: Here’s a screenshot of the approximate nutritional values for the recipe, via I am not sufficiently bothered (yet) to sign up with the site so I can save or share my recipes, [alt][prtscr] will have to do

;)The Recipe

A riding goal for 2013

Last year I really got into tracking my rides with Strava. Having weighed in on 1 January at 89kg, I was rather despondent about how flabby I had allowed myself to get, and resolved that I would lose 10kg by the start of 2013. I did, indeed, lose 10kg during 2012, weighing in at 78.85kg on 1 January. I’ve still got flab (another 5kg would be good) to get rid of, however, so it’s full speed ahead on the riding.

Comparing my the results I mention in my first riding or health-related post of 2012 with what Strava figured out, I did a little better than Garmin Connect reported, perhaps that comes down to tracking moving time differently. There’s certainly a difference in the calorie count. When I started using Strava I was surprised at the differences, but after checking with a few colleagues who also use power meters and where Garmin’s figures were way out but Strava’s were within 3-4 percent of the actual meter, I’ve ditched Garmin Connect entirely.

Here’s a snapshot of what I achieved last year:

Strava summary for 2012

I’m determined to do better than that in 2013. Not only does Coottha not intimidate me any more, I’ve really enjoyed getting out there and stretching my body. I decided that the regular interval training I’d been doing around Jindalee was not quite good enough. Six laps with not much climbing just didn’t cut it; three laps of Mt Ommaney Drive (with a loop around Arrabri Avenue) are much better – I get much greater climbing and a bit more distance in only another 15 minutes, so it’s any ideal way to start my day several days a week.

This last week’s weather has been a bit of a shock so I didn’t get out as much as I wanted to. For all of yesterday’s 58km effort it felt like I was riding in thick goop. Still, I’m on target for 100km/week as a baseline, and even allowing for some travel in February and March I should be able to not only do this year’s Coottha Challenge in a respectable time but also the Brissie To The Bay 100km ride in June.


A much-delayed post on the storm

I started writing this on 24 November last year, but didn’t get it finished because I had higher priority things to deal with.

The post:

Last Sunday I was on my way back home from a productive week away in Santa Clara. My flight (UA-863, SFO->SYD) suffered from the cattle class toilets being unusable for almost the entire flight, so we all had to use the loos in business class. The two (downstairs) loos. All 300+ passengers. Ugh. We also had significant turbulence (by which I mean that we had the seatbelt light on for several hours, and I was shaken around in my seat) – just like the trip over to SFO. Not pleasant.

I managed to get through the fairly quiet Sydney airport Immigration queue, my baggage was amongst the first out (despite me being seated in row 60 at the back of the plane), and I bolted around to the transfer desk to make sure I got my flight up to Brisbane.

The trip up to Brisbane was uneventful until we were about to start our descent, at which point the captain advised that Brisbane airport was experiencing a major storm and we would have to wait. So we did – another 40 minutes which basically doubled the length of the flight. When we were cleared to land the pilot put us on the tarmac very smoothly, but we then had to stop quite a distance from the terminal because the tarmac had been shut down due to the storm, and we had to wait for it to be started up again. [Greg pointed me to which, while not an actual strike on an aeroplane, does indicate why the tarmac was shut down!] Amazingly, my baggage was again almost the first to come off, so I hopped in the first available cab and headed home.

It was really, really good to be home.

Later in the afternoon we wandered down to our local Coles to get the makings for pizza and have a general leg stretch. We also noticed that there was a storm warning from the BoM, so we kept watching the weather radar to see how far off it might be.

Around 4pm I got the pizza dough made, and C was all excited because she’s now able to help me with some of the processes. About 5pm we started preparing the toppings, and then about 5:20pm J called out that I should come upstairs. She was in the back bedroom with the kids watching what turned out to be rather scary.

After grabbing that video (and getting quite worried about the safety of the back window while doing so) I headed downstairs, noticed the size of the splashes from the pool as the hail came in and grabbed some video of that as well. Then I noticed that both skylights (1m x 0.5m) had shattered, the table was covered in water and shards, and carefully dashed (does that happen?) to grab J’s laptop and phone from the kitchen bench.

J and the kids were in the loungeroom. A was freaking out, J was barely holding it together, C was upset and scared.

Then the storm was done, gone, moved on to the next impact point. All done in 20 minutes.

Hopped on the phone to call the SES (5:49pm, I made a note), grabbed some towels to put on the floor and then put my shoes on. Our neighbours from across the road popped in to help (M sat down with the kids and read them stories, C helped J and I mop), and I grabbed some more video of the damage and took photos as well.

[Time passes]

We tried to get through to our insurer that evening, but we gave up after close to two hours on hold. Also because our cordless phone batteries died.

The SES finally got to us at about 10pm; there were a lot of calls for them to deal with and it was only after they arrived that I discovered that I should have alerted the dispatcher to the fact that we have young children. Apparently young’uns and oldies get bumped up the queue a little


On Monday the 19th we managed to get through to the insurer, filed a claim and got the process started. We went around the house and took more photos, did more cleaning up and tried to put things back in order as best we could. Unfortunately our adsl2 modem had fried (as had the psu in my workstation) so we were without fast internet and our recorded TV shows that the kids love to watch. We also discovered that the TV antenna was knackered – ABC2 (the most-watched channel under this roof) kept coming and going.

It took another few days before O’Brien Glass could get to us. Unfortunately, because the broken window is toughened (for a bathroom), over a bathtub and on the second floor, we had to get a special piece made to measure and scaffolding will be required before it can be replaced. In the meantime we’ve got a clear sort of large-area bandaid over the cracks. The insurer’s “make-safe” team managed to get out to us on the Thursday (after a building assessor and a roofing specialist had visited), so we could then use the kitchen and diningroom area again. Our stress levels decreased a little since we didn’t feel like we had a mythological weapon hanging over us.

The pool: it’s still green.

end of the post

We’ve been a little warm today

For Christmas 2012, J’s sister and brother-in-law gave us a thermoclock with a remote sensor. It’s pretty cool being able to sit inside the house and see how hot (or cold) it is inside as well as outside.

Today just after we’d had lunch I noticed that it was a bit warm:

hot, damned hot!

then a few minutes later we hit what I believe to be our residence’s record:


Surprisingly, the car thermometer didn’t get above 38.5C on my trip to the bike shop this arvo (needed some new gloves), unlike 4 December:


Still, while it’s darned hot here, at least we don’t have an imminent bushfire threat like J’s sister does, the NSW Rural Fire Service page Total Fire Ban and Current Fire Danger Map makes very sobering reading.

Darktable 1.1 package now available for Solaris 11

I’m delighted to announce that the Solaris 11 package of Darktable v1.1 is now available.

You may obtain it from the usual location.As with previous releases, you’ll need the pre-requisite packages, with more details available at pssst! wanna darktable package set for Solaris 11?.

This package contains my fixes for memory corruption in monotone_hermite_set(), and RawSpeed’s #include of jpeglib.h needs __cplusplus guards as well as some miscellaneous packaging updates to reflect updated and newly delivered plugins.

J baked me a cake

It looked like this (*):


and tasted delicious. She even got one of the internal layers looking pretty darned close to Sun Purple!

Best. Wife. Ever.

Thankyou, darling, you rock!

(*) Points awarded for nominating the model the cake was based on


A few personal bests yesterday

Yesterday I rode in the Bicycle Queensland annual Brisbane to the Gold Coast 100km mass ride. I started the day by riding the 19.2km (and 467 calories) from our place in to the start at Grey St. It was quite strange to set off before dawn – I really did need the new batteries in my front light, which normally I only use if riding after dawn, or around dusk (and that’s rare). I took it fairly easy, but still managed an average speed of 24.6km/h. For the big one, I’d entered in the “barely moving” 20-25km/h average speed group, even though I knew I could go a bit faster. I rationalised it by thinking “this will probably be my average across the whole course, because I’ll get quite tired the further we go.”

However, I did a fair bit better than that:


The first section along the Busway was a lot of fun, we had a few rolling inclinations and somewhat faster descents. The last time I’d done this ride I was on my old (heavy) mountainbike with slick tyres. I was also not nearly as fit – so it was quite a grind. I had a blast and managed to do the first 40km in about 1h20mins – my very best time over 40k. After I’d had a break at the rest stop I managed to find T and his rather fast riding mates, so we set off together.. and I got dropped on the first corner.


Still, I did manage to keep a reasonably good pace for that second 40k (1h41m moving time) and met up with T and his crew only about 10 minutes after they’d arrived at the second rest stop. I was feeling excited, and happy and ENERGISED! My perception at that point was that I’d only dropped back by perhaps 5 minutes over the second 40k, perhaps that’s because I was having such a great time riding.

For the last segment we set off together again, then T and the crew dropped me about 2km along. I felt pretty happy about that (2km) because it meant I still had quite a bit of ‘go’ left in my legs and lungs, and those guys are fast. T had mentioned that they were expecting to average over 30km/h and before yesterday I hadn’t thought I could do that unless I was going along the riverside bikepath with no headwind.

I was, therefore, really delighted to see that I caught up with them around Hope Island (one of the guys came off his bike and they lost some time), and I managed to keep up with them for the rest of the ride (about 16-17km). We were going fast, and I loved it. It was hot, we were riding as a group, at speed, pushing pushing pushing to get to the finish. I kept up, I exceeded my expectations and I think I rode very well.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I had an average speed over the whole course of 29.9km/h. Next year (and in fact, for the Coot-tha Challenge) I’ll be entering the 25-30km/h group. I know I can do it. If I train well and hard enough, I might be able to enter the 30+km/h group.

Now I just need to train on Coot-tha itself (as well as the wilds of Brookfield) so that I can make it happen.

An actual fix for the printing frustrations

I tried again to print some documents, following what I thought was The Fix(tm), as mentioned in the previous post. However … blam! cupsd fell over again and the service was placed into maintenance, with the same signature as before: a core from /usr/bin/gs with that same stack.

Frustration. Level. Rising ……. AAARRRGGGGHHHHH

So I found our copy of the sources for Gutenprint, ghostscript and Cups, built up cscope database and started searching for the cmd_put_list_op function and what might affect it. I also turned on debug logging in /etc/cups/cupsd.conf and scanned megabytes of output for several hours this evening. After a while, something twigged – perhaps cups’ RIP_MAX_CACHE might have something to do with the problem – after all, each reported crash was due to SIGSEGV (11), which is almost always a memory allocation or memory stomping problem.

This setting is for the Raster Image Processor (RIP) and limits the amount of memory which it is allowed to allocate. Since I knew already that printing plain text files (/etc/passwd is a great testbed for this) was fine, and that complex PDF or PostScript docs weren’t, I thought I might be on to something. Cups uses getenv() to check the value of the variable, so I first tried

$ RIP_MAX_CACHE=16m lp -d lp1onfire

but that value wasn’t passed through to the RIP (/usr/bin/gs).

Next, I tried editing /usr/lib/cups/filter/pstoraster, a mere shell-script, adding


just before the invocation of ghostscript.

Again, no joy. Then I googled for ways to change the setting with cups, and quickly came across the cups parameter RIPcache. It’s easy to set – just add a line to your /etc/cups/cupsd.conf with the desired value, and restart. I chose 16m to start with, and finally saw the value being passed through:

D [04/Oct/2012:00:00:27 -1000] [Job 25] envp[21]="RIP_MAX_CACHE=16m"

It was not, however, sufficient for my test document. A quick change to 128m and a restart … et voila! printing!

My stress level dropped immediately


I’ve updated my cupsd.conf to now have a RIPcache value of 512m, and (finally) turned off debug logging.