Chris Worfolk's Blog


Smile

February 10th, 2017 | Photos

Recently, I was walking home, when I noticed someone had strung a banner across the bridge saying “smile”. I did. It was good. I think if people hung these banners everywhere I went, I would be a lot happier. Unfortunately, the banner has since been removed.

Super Bowl LI

February 9th, 2017 | Sport

Ah, I was so close again! Last year I predicted a Carolina Panthers vs New England Patriots Super Bowl (this was before the playoffs started, not before the regular season). The Denver Broncos beat the Patriots in the AFC championship game to knock me off by one.

This year, I predicted a Green Bay Packers vs New England Patriots. Alas, the Atlantic Falcons convincingly beat the Packers in the NFC championship game to once again knock me off by one result.

Still, it made for a good Super Bowl. The first three quarters were so-so. It looked like the Falcons were firmly in control. But then Tom Brady did a Tom Brady and suddenly we had a game on.

Turn out was good too: six of us, not counting Elina, Venla and Kearny who were all here, but had gone to bed. For once, I managed to make a reasonable amount of food.

ChrisWorfolk.com v6.2

February 7th, 2017 | News

Earlier today, I pushed version 6.2 of my website live. I think we can say with reasonable certainty that you will be less excited about than I am. However, life is not about the opportunity you are handed. It is about what you do with it. So smile and think to yourself “wow, that is interesting!”.

Not much has changed. It looks mostly the same. On the homepage, the giant picture of my ugly face has been replaced by another giant ugly picture.

Books page

I have replaced the photos link at the top (photos can now be found in the “about me” section) with a page detailing all of my books. I like my photos, but most people are probably not looking for a gallery of shots when they visit the site. It is much better to follow me on Flickr.

About me sections

Most people are probably looking for one of three things when they visit my site: to find out more about my tech consultancy, to explore my food writing or to check out my work in mental health and wellbeing. To make this easier, the about me section is now divided along these three lines.

Social media

I’ve added all of my social media links to the footer. Why anyone would want that much Chris, I have no idea. Probably nobody does. But Elina might find them useful.

To the wine guzzlers hoarding that one special bottle

February 2nd, 2017 | Food

Let’s face facts: you have already waited too long to drink that bottle.

You know the one. The expensive looking red that was a year or two old when you got it. You put it aside for a special occasion. That makes sense. You might as well chug cheap plonk until you have someone to share it with.

But now it is five years later. Ten years later. It is still sitting there in your kitchen. You have moved house since then. The bottle came with you. You keep telling yourself that you are just waiting for an occasional special enough. But that occasion never comes. You have had major changes in your life since then and the bottle is still sitting there.

It’s not getting any better. You’re not even sure it has a cork in it, and even if it does, you have had it stood upright all of this time. All you are doing is building up expectations that it is going to be great. It cannot possibly live up to that hype anymore.

So, do yourself a favour. Crack it open tonight. This week at the latest. The next time someone suggests wine, reach straight for it. The poor thing has waited long enough.

Is this the worst sprint ever?

February 1st, 2017 | Tech

If you are not familiar with a burndown chart, the idea is this: you pull so many points (bits of work) into a sprint (a period of time, typically two weeks) and your burndown chart shows you how far you are through said work. So, the red line on the chart (the amount of work done) should follow the grey line.

Or, at worst case scenario, the red line should stay flat because you have done literally nothing.

However, what it should never, ever do is go in the opposite direction to the grey line. Because that would mean you actually ended the sprint with more work to do than you had at the start of it. The point of a sprint is that you should not be bringing in extra tasks.

Safe to say then, that this was not a great sprint for us. But, it is at least comically bad.

Spring rolls

January 31st, 2017 | Food

Have you ever tried to make your own spring rolls?

I have tried several times, from several different cookbooks. It is difficult. First, you have to get the rice paper in a bowl of water. Th is hard because it does not bend much without cracking. I usually manage to crack it on the way in. Then, once it’s in, god help you if you put it near another spring roll because they stick together like crazy.

Then you add the filling and try to roll it. I was told to tightly roll it, so I did. The filling squirted out the end. This happens every time, even though I never manage to get it that tight.

Finally, you have to cook them. Keeping your oil at the correct temperature and preventing them from sticking together, leaking filling or exploding all at the same time is an art.

It could be that spring rolls happen to be a weakness for me. However, I suspect it might be that the subtle art of making spring rolls is difficult to communicate in a cookbook.

Does anyone have a more positive experience? What are the secrets?

Baconated kale recipe

January 30th, 2017 | Food

Have you ever thought to yourself “I wish I could eat more kale, which genuinely is a super food, but it just tastes so boring”? If so, never fear. I have found a solution that will have you eating kale until it comes out of your ears.

The solution: combine it with a second super food. In this case, bacon.

Everyone knows bacon is a super food, of course. It cures hangovers. It comes from a magical animal, one that produces chops, ribs, gammon and much, much more. Best of all is the unmistakable smell that comes down the corridor as soon as someone starts frying it.

I used pancetta, but any type of bacon will do. Start by cutting it up into small pieces. Next, fry it in a pan until crispy. While you are doing this, steam the kale. When they are both cooked, toss to mix.

Or, if you want to get more of the bacon flavour into the kale, cook the bacon first and then toss it with the kale. If you have the bacon crispy before it goes in, it should not go soggy during steaming.

No traffic jams

January 29th, 2017 | Success & Productivity

I hope there is at least a service station with a KFC…

NFL: Who are the real franchise quarterbacks?

January 28th, 2017 | Sport

The term “franchise quarterback” is thrown around a lot in the NFL. There is an official meaning: teams can use their franchise tag to keep one key player at the club. However, more often when referring to QBs it is used to label quarterbacks who people expect to be at the teams for a long-run without any enforcement.

But who exactly is a franchise quarterback?

Philip Rivers, for example, is probably not the first person to come to mind when you think about the legendary quarterbacks of the NFL. However, Rivers has now been at the San Diego Chargers for 12 years. Only Tom Brady has been at his current club for longer.

Quarterback tenure in data

Below, I have tabled all of the NFL teams and their starting quarterbacks. I have included the year that they joined the club, and the team’s 2016 record.

Note that this is slightly different to the year they became starting quarterback. Many sat on the bench for the first season, for example. However, as it is a measure of how long the teams have kept them around, tracking it from the time they joined the team makes more sense in this instance.

It also does not include how long they have been in the NFL. Alex Smith, for example, was at the San Francisco 49ers for several years before moving on to the Kansas City Chiefs. Again, this makes more sense for what we are discussing.

The data

Team Starting QB Year joined team 2016 record
Patriots Tom Brady 2000 .875
Chargers Philip Rivers 2004 .313
Giants Eli Manning 2004 .688
Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 2004 .688
Packers Aaron Rodgers 2005 .625
Saints Drew Brees 2006 .438
Falcons Matt Ryan 2008 .688
Ravens Joe Flacco 2008 .500
Lions Matthew Stafford 2009 .563
Bears Jay Cutler 2009 .188
Panthers Cam Newton 2011 .375
Bengals Andy Dalton 2011 .438
49ers Colin Kaepernick 2011 .125
Colts Andew Luck 2012 .500
Seahawks Russell Wilson 2012 .656
Dolphins Ryan Tannehill 2012 .625
Redskins Kirk Cousins 2012 .531
Chiefs Alex Smith 2013 .750
Cardinals Carson Palmer 2013 .569
Raiders Derek Carr 2014 .750
Jaguars Blake Bortles 2014 .188
Titans Marcus Mariota 2015 .563
Bills Tyrod Taylor 2015 .438
Buccaneers Jameis Winston 2015 .563
Jets Bryce Petty 2015 .313
Vikings Sam Bradford 2016 .500
Browns Robert Griffin III 2016 .063
Texans Brock Osweiler 2016 .563
Eagles Carson Wentz 2016 .438
Broncos Trevor Siemian 2016 .563
Rams Jared Goff 2016 .250
Cowboys Dak Prescott 2016 .813

Discussion

I was expecting to see some correlation between the length of quarterback tenture and the results of each team. However, this was difficult to fine.

Sure, a lot of the play-off teams have the longest-standing quarterbacks. But then, the Chargers and Saints did not make the playoffs, despite having had the same quarterback for ten years.

Similarly, while there are a lot of rubbish teams with new quarterbacks, there are also the Cowboys, with one of the best records in the NFL, who only replaced Tony Romo, their quarterback since 2003, this year.

Here is the data in a graph:

There is nothing there. As with most of the stats in the NFL it probably suffers from the same critical problem: small sample size. When you only play 16 games per year, and those games only involve 11 minutes of actual play, almost anything can be luck.

Tapas Revolution

January 27th, 2017 | Books, Food

Tapas Revolution is a cookbook by Omar Allibhoy. Omar hails from Spain and previously worked at elBulli, which, between 2006 and 2009, was voted the best restaurant in the world four times running. Now he runs a chain of UK-based restaurants by the same name as his cookbook.

Tapas is usually associated with small dishes. However, most of the recipes Omar includes are big meals. Typically, the dishes involve frying a lot of garlic, throwing in some chorizo, and then maybe adding a few more ingredients. We are pretty sure we set a new chorizo-eating record somewhere towards the end of tapas month.

Some of the recipes were a bit lacking on the instructions. A bit of filling in the blanks, and adjusting the quantities to something more sensible. Other dishes were beautifully simple to implement. My favourite recipe in the book is the still lemonade.

Prawns with chorizo, black pudding and fried bread.

Clams with ham.

Chicken paella. I only put half the amount of water in that the recipe indicated. Even then, I was incredulous. “This is never going to work”. But it did; it all came together at the very end.

Creme caramel. The instructions for making the caramel are very unclear, but it turned out edible.

Blackberry cheesecake.

It was a fun book. Most of the recipes were quick to cook. Those that were not, could be left unattended while you did something else. Some of the instructions were frustrating, but there are definitely recipes in here that I will be going back to. If nothing else, it provides simple recipes to cook things like prawns and chorizo in a tasty and uncomplicated way.