Thinking - R2D2

That little R2D2 robot nugget doesn't really have a lot going for it other than charm and cracking skills. Some would say that's enough, but I want more from my personal robot assistant.

It talks in ascii via a screen when it communicates with humans, and chirps to everything else regardless of what language they speak. Even my iPhone speaks more languages than R2D2.

Now dont get me wrong, I've always enjoyed it's company, and it seems like a decent kind of ... device, but it hasn't seen a lot of upgrades in the time we've known it.

I think it's been a hundred years or so. The kid did a few adjustments, but I dont think there was any kind of major operating system upgrade from the manufacturer or anything, and it seems to have pretty much the same skill set on the ice planet as he did all those years earlier.

That makes him a toaster as compared to my aging phone.

Not happy!

120 Things in 20 years wants more from my robots NOW!

OK this time I really haven't added a photo (or a post really)

Thinking - Pest control

Once when I was eighteen years old or so, I owned a ghetto-blaster style sound system.

Which is interesting enough as it stands.

But to add interest to the narrative, I once saw a remarkable thing occur upon it's top surface.

A cockroach walked across it.

I realize at this point that this is still not the gripping tale promised by it's title, but there's more...

I rolled up some junk mail* vouchers for fast food and furniture, and just as I was about to kill it, it died.

It just died right there in front of me while I watched. I presume it died of old age. I have a slight allergy to bug spray type product (I get hay fever from them) so it wasn't because of a surface spray or anything.

I'm guessing it didnt die of a heart attack or anything, because I've notice in squashed cockroaches there's no sign of a heart of anything else meaningful.

Just mush.

I always assumed they dont have organs, just soup, and something that makes their legs twitch to give their famous ability to scurry.

Here's my impression of an actual X-ray of the mush inside a healthy, living cockroach.

Pretty convincing stuff.


The thing just up and died right in front of me just seconds before I was going to kill it.

I was going to rob it of those last few seconds of life.

It changed the way I saw killing things for a while.

Until the ant incident a few months later, but thats a story for another day.

That's it really.

I just thought you should know.

120 Things in 20 years thinks it may be the only person on earth to have seen an insect die of old age.

*In order to take a relevant photo of something rolled up, I just went out to get the daily batch of junk mail that we have hand delivered to our door every day. Today for the first time in our history here, there has been no delivery. When we lived in the country we didnt get junk mail, so we still find it culturally interesting and worth a read. Before we lived in the country, I lived in the city, so received junk mail, and something called the Messenger Post, which is a free newspaper (looking thing) that someone sees fit to throw at every house in South Australia, and is typically used to help fill recycling bins, and wrapping fish heads. In fact it was most likely a copy of the Messenger Post news paper that I would have rolled up on the day.

Sous vide - Rice cooker on keep

I just Sous vide(d) a steak to perfection in three hours in a thirty year old rice cooker on "keep".

There's a factory somewhere in Japan that's still turning out "old school" rice cookers. Or at least I figure there must be. It's either a factory that's still running, or a really, really big warehouse that's still full. You can still buy the exact same model as mine thirty years later. Perhaps they just left the factory running and forgot about it.

My impression of the situation is that there was an order placed thirty five years ago, and someone rocks up in a truck every few hours at the loading bay, and collects the latest batch for drop shipping around the world.


The rice cooker I'm talking about is the one I still use all the time, and looks like this.

Actually it looks a little less like this.

It looks like this, but without the meat thermometer I put under the lid.

Interestingly it keeps an interesting temperature.

Which is interesting.

If you happened to start by putting a quarter of a cup of water into it and set it to "keep" and "cook" so that it first cooks, then keeps, you will find that after the cook cycle has finished and it switches to "keep", you can fill it with hot water, and it will sit at around 57c.

Now it turns out 57c is a very interesting temperature.

You even get a bit of control.

You can control the temperature by putting a thermometer under the lid and thus creating a gap. (see observer effect as pertaining to cooking meat in a rice cooker/something about photons and so forth)

If you have a shallow depth of water you will get a slightly higher temperature, and if you fill it to the rim, you will get a slightly lower temperature.

I'm guessing that this is because it vents more heat the fuller it is. Something about the exposed hot surface area or something. (Search "something something law of thermodynamics or something".(Interestingly, a search for exactly that gets you everything you ever need to know about such stuff.))


Get a rice cooker and make it be on keep and fill it with hot water.

Then get a zip-lock sandwich bag, and drop a steak into it.

Just make the steak stay dry.

Then do one of the following to rid it of air pockets and expose all of it to even heat...

1. Submerge the steak in a bag in the water until the pressure forms a nice tight compression around the steak(s) then seal up the bag.

2. Seal up the bag but leave a tiny gap and suck the air out. (I used a straw)

3. Just leave the bag open, peg it to the side, and let the hot water in your rice cooker do it's thing with it's own pressure.

They all work.

So now... and this is the exciting bit...

Put the bag of steak into the hot water.

Leave it there until you get bored.

If you get bored in less than an hour and a half, leave it there until someone else gets bored.

I didn't get bored until around three hours the first time.

Read that last line again.

This is a steak cooked for three hours in a rice cooker on "keep" setting in a vat of water! (then very quickly fried)

It looked like this when I fried it for twenty seconds on each side and cut into it.

Yeah that's the same photo as above but I thought it was worth another look.


I count this as a total success,

120 Things in 20 years doesn't cook steak the regular way any more, but still makes rice the regular way.

Aquaponics - Vivipary strawberry propagation fail

It looks like my absurd strawberry has pretty much failed to do much of anything except go all floopy, and look a lot more like earth than it did a few days ago..

I was (of course) hoping it would change the world in some enormous way, but alas it was not to be.

On the up side, a few of my very healthy normal strawberry plants are actually doing quite well, and have started to send out yet more runners, so "normal" might turn out to be a pretty good approach after all.

I think This might be my first post without a photo, so given the strawberry has turned to what looks like earth, I'll post this pic in place of anything meaningful.

120 Things In 20 Years thinks  the world might have slipped back into normal mode when it comes to strawberry propagation.

Aquaponics - Strawberry propagation

I found a new way to propagate strawberries. Or at least it's new to me. The secret is to have the seeds sprout while it's still on the fruit.

Although I would have liked to leave it alone to see if they would all grow by themselves, the fruit is almost rotten so I thought it would be better to pick it and plant them all.

It came from a dirt garden so there was a lot of risk of it being eaten by things before they had a chance to grow.

I planted it into my aquaponics system.

From what I could see, all the seeds had sprouted.

I have no idea what conditions were required to make it happen or if they will actually end up growing, but the original plant was a modern lab created thing that didn't produce runners. Or almost didn't. From around 60 plants I think I've seen two runners in two years.

120ThingsIn20Years thinks the world is odd.

Thinking - Sandwiches

Dont underestimate the sandwich. It's like Sushi, but with bread! The world needs the sandwich to have a bit of a run. If even a tiny percentage of the western world cared as much about what we put into a sandwich as the average japanese worker cares about their bento box of yummy goodness bought from a train station on the way to work contains, the sandwich would take the world by storm.

It's like sushi, but with Bread!

When I was a kid, 45 years ago, a school lunch might be a sandwich that consisted of ham between some buttered bread. This would be lovingly stored in a school bag at, on some days, say.... 48 degrees c .... that's 118.4 F... from the time your mum made it, until you ate it four hours later.

Can you say "Rancid?"

Four hours at that temperature is pretty much getting into the zone of eating a dead thing you found on the side of a road after you woke up from a heat induced stupor of a length you could not define.

But anyway.... the fresh, hand crafted with love, quality sandwich is by any measure a most pleasant thing to eat, and should never be dismissed. I look forward to the day we see "Sandwich Train" restaurants offering us ever more interesting temptations from the sandwich family.

I dont ever recall being offered a salmon and caviar sandwich in my entire life of eating.

That's a lot of years.

That's not a good effort from the sandwich making community.

Sandwich Train!

120ThingsIn20Years predicts... Sandwich Train restaurants!

Aquaponics - Recycled Leeks

It turns out it's possible to recycle leeks.

Which is nice.

When you buy or harvest a leek, cut the base off like you might normally do, but perhaps be a little more generous in what you leave. ie cut the bottom off so that it's 1cm thick or so.

Also leave the roots on if they are there still.

Then just stick it into your growbed media and wait patiently for a bit.

If you bought your Leek from a supermarket and the roots are all removed, it takes quite a while before you see new growth. Like all things without roots, they try to grow enough of a root system to keep from getting all thirsty and dead as a priority, then start to put up the all the photosynthesising bits to get on with the business of growing in earnest.

But, if you leave the roots on when you harvest, or better yet, just cut the stem off and leave the roots in the media, you should see new stem growth right from the start.

Pictured here are three store bought Leek bases in different stages of growth.

All of these had no roots at all.

The one I pulled up was just harassed in order to have it's photo taken, but will no doubt be fine because the expanded clay media is very forgiving when doing such things as pulling up a plant just to take a photo of it's roots.

As far as I can tell it's growing normally, and should be a perfectly good Leek in no time.

There's always the chance that something strange might happen and it might turn to a piece of wood or something, but if it does, rest assured I'll probably get around to telling you before you waste too much of your own time doing this.

120ThingsIn20Years thinks it will probably work just fine.


Due to the overwhelming existence of the spamming minority, comments will now need to be approved before they get published.

Sorry for any delays to those of you who are real people.

I hate to sensor, and as per my usual policy, anyone who wants to leave an ad or link may do so, but if you do so more than once or twice (or at least more than once off topic), I wont let them through.

Unfortunately I'll just have to decide on the day.

I hate having to do it, but the last few days have been keeping me busy all day deleting spam.

Please dont let it put you off posting a link to your blog or business if it's on topic and might be useful to someone reading, but everything is moderated now, so by default you are spam, so dont waste your time if you are a bot.

Sorry normal people, but if you are real, It will be posted when I get around to dealing with it.

I'm getting hundreds of spam posts per day at the moment, and they all just get pushed into a new mailbox from this point on until I get around to sorting them.

Thinking - Lies and fun

For around 25 years I lied to Mrs Bullwinkle that I had been on a flight with Leo Sayer on the one and only time I traveled first class on a plane to Papua New Guinea when I was seventeen years old.

I cant remember what the original gag was supposed to be that I never managed to punchline, but for some reason, I just kept it up for years and years.

Then one day when she was really, really sad for very good reasons, I told her the awesome truth.

She stopped being sad for a few minutes.

Sometimes it’s worth lying to your partner for twenty five years just for a few minutes of giggles.

It still cracks her up whenever she remembers it.

"Of all the people to lie about being on a plane with!"

It turns out twenty five years is a long time to set up a punchline.

On a different and oppositely styled gag, I realised I always wore white business shirts, and a blue thing over the top of it.

The shirts changed, but the blue... thing was always the same.

But one day I decided to cut the cuffs and the collar off a shirt, and wear them under the same blue thing I always wore.

So, no shirt, just the blue top, and cuffs and a collar from a white business shirt poking out where they normally should.

This was when I was around sixteen years old or so, and I was friends with a guy whose parents owned a motel in Kentown in Adelaide. It was pretty cool because we got to eat food from the restaurant at will, use the pool and sauna, and have unlimited access to video games and vending machines.

So one day I rock up un-announced after school, and find my friend and his girlfriend sitting on the stairs in the middle of a depressing argument that looked like it might spell the end of their relationship.

Now, keep in mind, this is the first time I had ever worn my cut down stunt shirt, but it was perhaps the 500th time my friend had seen me in a white shirt, and my blue thing.

I realised I needed to get back on the bus to go home and leave them to it, but for a few seconds before I went, I asked my friend to give me 10:1 odds on a $1 bet that I could take off my shirt in less than 5 seconds without removing my blue thing.

Three buttons, and it was done.

To this day, I doubt he could be convinced that I wore normal shirts for all the years he knew me.

I never did collect my $10, but I also don't think I saved the relationship with my cupid stunt.

120ThingsIn20Years thinks lies are always funny and stupid,but are sometimes worth giving a go if you're willing to put in the years to develop them to their full potential, or at least pretend that you have being doing so. You don't need to lie to seem like you are, but when you do, it's worth doing for the right reason.

Thinking - Post war blues and forgiveness as a profitable virtue

Forgive and forget, or perish.

That's it really.

Everything else I write will be just rehashing that first line.

And maybe a bit about Trump.

In spite of being a white, middle class, 50 year old man... which is pretty much the ideal as far as the way the world is set up to favour, I'm not a huge fan of the way the western world behaves for much of the time.


The one thing we do really, really, really well as a culture is just move on.

See World War Two for an example for most of us.

By the time the 60s rolled on we were trading with the Germans and Japanese as if nothing had happened.


I know people who's grandmothers are still holding a grudge because someone from the country next door back in Europe gave their grandmother's grandmother a hard time, and tried to kill them a lot.

Well... killing people is a shit (sorry to the school I know that reads this blog, but sometimes teachers need to explain words) of a thing to do.

"Dont kill people!" is one of my favorite rules to live by.

But really???

That was 130 years ago*.

Stop it!

I don't care who you are, if you remember something that didn't happen to you, you will suffer from it until the day you die.

Read that last line again, it's really important.

Unless you are really old, and have a direct connection with whatever bad thing happened, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Move on.

If it wasnt you beaten within inches of your life and abandoned in the jungle, then it also wasn't the twenty two year old waitress in your local restaurant that didn't do it to you.

The problem with the world is people holding grudges.

Never hold a grudge for longer than you live.

That's my advice to live by...

Never hold a grudge for longer than you live.

A week or two is probably ok, but if you cant do that, at the very least don't take on dead people's grudges.

The problem with the world is people holding grudges.

And maybe Trump.

Grudges, and Donald.

North America, if you trust Trump to hold the launch codes to a shipload of nukes, then so be it, I'm all for democracy, but please, please, please don't let it happen because you didn't show up on the day to vote.

Please vote.

Please vote.

Vote for Trump or not, but please ....

apathy and grudges will mess up a world as fast as...


pretty fast

 120ThingsIn20Years thinks that *Numbers may not reflect reality

Thinking - Science

If we look for new ways to win at say...chess, and start by making moves that leave the board, I can predict the outcome with a high degree of certainty.

I don't think that's thinking outside the box, I think that's trying to solve problems that aren't there.

Sometimes I have the feeling a lot of pre-agendered organizations are doing the same.

Solving problems that aren't there.

Sometimes, if you have no way of answering a question, there's no need to add another turtle under the last, because the question didn't need to be asked in the first place.

Thinking outside the box doesn't bring about good science. You need to solve outside the box.

Thinking outside the box is easy.

120ThingsIn20Years cant remember if it's offending anyone with the turtle reference, but it doesn't think so, and it if it did, it was entirely unintentional.

Thinking - Bricks

Why didn't they make bricks a bit bigger to save a little time in construction?

Just a bit.

Say 20%.

I think that might have saved perhaps 5% in building time and cost.

I'm probably wrong because bricklayers and stonemasons know their stuff...but my question still stands...

Why didn't they make bricks a bit bigger to save a little time in construction?

120 Things in 20 years is waking up slowly, but slowly.

Alchemy - Gooey Date

I invented a drink.

I called it a "Gooey Date".

Get a pitted date, bust it up a little... say into 5 pieces, and drop it into a 50ml shot glass full of vodka.

Add a teaspoon of maple syrup, a few drops of bitters (I make my own), and let it sit in the fridge for an hour or so to let the date flavour escape into the vodka. (so far I haven't made a bottle of it, so only have the one glass recipe)

Drink it.

It's delicious.

Don't have too many.

They make you fall down.

Unless you want to fall down.

Then you should have too many.

120 Things in 20 years typed something.

Thinking - Lotto Economics

I just wrote an email to some people about a person I knew ( I think that covers me) that never quite paid their way.

They would skimp a little when everyone was kicking in at the end of a meal in a restaurant or whatever. I've been quite poor (financially) at times in my life, and this was always something I managed to avoid.

Sometimes by just ordering a bowl of air.

Other times by skipping the air and just having the water.

Either way, I was less than a fan of the person who didn't pay their way.

But now I'm not so sure if they were perhaps contributing to the economy in a way I previously missed completely.

Damn me!

Perhaps the value of a (*dollar*) is better determined by someone who doesn't pay their way.

Or perhaps it already is.

I had this grand scheme where I recommend my friend should buy 5 x $1 instant lotto (scratch some kind of coating off to reveal you have lost yet again) tickets each week to get over their problem of being a decent payer. I figured it would be easy to be generous to the potential tune of $25,000 for only $5 week left as tips.

I figured they were dodging their due because they thought, not that they didn't have enough, but rather someone might be getting more. That was my big breakthrough idea. Force Them to give a potential something from them.

I figured it might be worth kicking that in the guts with only $5 spent per week.

Giving someone a ticket that only cost a dollar, but that might be worth $25,000 is apparently different to giving someone a dollar. It turns out it was nearly unbearable to think they might win.


Win more than the dollar they tipped.


Win more than the dollar they could have had themselves!



what if you gave someone 3 x $1 instant lotto tickets for a $3 cup of coffee?

That would be fair.

Except we see from my friend that lotto tickets are seen as worth more than the cost of the ticket.


But also from actual statistics, we see that lotto tickets are worth less than their face value.


Obvious really.

Otherwise nobody would buy them.

Nope, I dont understand either...


We sometimes see the potential as being more than the real worth.

People see lotto and slots as worth slightly more than the real worth... of say a ticket...

Or a coin.

The promise of a return is the thing we value in a lotto ticket, or a slot machine, or a coin.

And we all know the return cant be quite as much as the cost of the ticket.

Somebody is making something.

But what if we all started using lotto tickets to buy coffee?

What if we all said I want to buy a $3 coffee with three $1 lotto tickets?

We all know the tickets are worth less than $3, but as in my friend's case, he cant deal with letting go of $3 worth of tickets for $3 worth of stuff.

So $3 worth of lotto tickets are actually worth $3.05, so you only need to pay 2.95 lotto tickets for a $3 cup of coffee. (ish)

Pay for something worth $3 with $3, and get some change.

Everyone nearly wins!

Free money!




120 Things in 20 years thinks it just understood how the economy doesn't work..

Thinking - Multiverse

So, apparently we live in one small manifestation of the universe within something called the Multiverse. This is according to some apparently excellent equations.

I don't like it.

One version of the Multiverse says that every possible version of the universe exists, and there's some stuff about a new universe popping into existence every time a decision is made. And a stack of other stuff as well.

As far as I can see, the main upshot of all this, is that people tend to talk about it a lot. I'm not so sure it makes any useful predictions or anything, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

As I understand it, I think it's more of an inevitable side effect of some awesome equations rather than something people really want.

I know I dont want it.

I've never been comfortable with the concept because it seems a little wasteful. Just think of how much energy is required to support a universe made entirely of blue paint with nothing (obviously) that needs painting. Painting blue paint blue is a foolish errand in anyone's book.

See my problem.

But this morning I found a yellow sticky note on my screen in my handwriting that said...

"This version of the universe just so happens to be one where the Multiverse doesn't exist."

Problem solved.

120 Things in 20 years has only had five hours sleep in the last three days, but I dont think anyone can tell.

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