Why cooking Cyril needs a lawyer

Cooking a duck for the first time may require a legal eagle by the end of the process. 

A week before Christmas Day in 2014, I bought a frozen duck.

Purchased Sir Duck mostly because he was on special (i.e. cheap), certainly not because I knew what I’d be doing with it.  Never cooked a duck in my life, but there’s always a first time for these exciting adventures.

NAMING OF THE DUCK

One of our friends, Susan, decided Sir Duck needed a name.  As a consequence, he was dubbed Cyril.  A slightly unfortunate name really, because that’s my grandfather’s name.  Fortunately grandfather Cyril is deceased, which is just as well or he might be having conniptions reading this.

Cyril sat in the freezer for quite some time, despite Susan and Gregoire giving me the odd verbal prod as to which method of cooking I’d be using.  I had absolutely no idea.  Even reading up about it required time and energy I didn’t have.

While both my brothers are talented chefs, sadly that’s not a talent that’s been passed onto me.  I’m quite passionate about cooking – you only have to count my cookbooks to see that – but I rarely cook these days and mostly succumb to very simple meals.

With the advent of retirement, I thought “yippee, I can cook to my heart’s delight”. Good theory.  Now the problem is not so much time, but that I don’t have a decent kitchen due to travelling around so much.  An oven is a rare commodity indeed.  Added to the complexity,  I only have rudimentary ingredients most of the time.

But I deviate from Cyril.

It’s now early February 2015 and we’re heading off overseas in a couple of weeks.  Cyril MUST be eaten as we’re shutting down the fridge and freezer, rather than leave it on and pay lots of money to the electricity company.  One of my pet hates are electricity and water companies – if you want to be blatantly ripped off, they’re very good at it.

RECIPE TIME

I decide to roast Cyril using whatever ingredients I have to hand.  No point buying anything fancy given the departure date is looming fast.

First stop is a scan across the internet for the most proper cooking method. Some recipes are remarkably complex using 753 ingredients, but most recipes call for a drying of the duck, a toss of salt and pepper and into the oven.  I can do that.

THE COOKING OF CYRIL

Cyril is removed from his packaging and I’m a bit shocked to see the rather l-o-n-g neck poking out.  Chickens don’t have long necks poking out but ducks obviously do.  For some reason, this is a surprise.

Cyril the Duck sprawled across the sink
Cyril the Duck looking attractive once removed from his packaging

He’s patted down with a paper towel to dry out his skin as apparently this makes him nice and crisp.

However, Cyril doesn’t look dry enough after his pat down, so I fished out the hairdryer and gave him a good going over on a warm heat. This seems to do the trick.  The skin should be seriously crispy now.

Cyril the Duck being blow dried with the hairdryer
Cyril the Duck having a happy time with the hairdryer

He’s placed on a roasting tray, seasoned with salt and pepper, and I check to ensure the vent end of our duck is open to allow for even cooking.

Cyril the Duck on his roasting tray, ready for seasoning.
Cyril the Duck on his roasting tray, ready for seasoning.

Into the pre-heated oven he goes.  He has to be roasted “for 40 mins per kg until golden brown” then removed from the oven and left to rest for 20 minutes.

I weigh and measure and calculate, and do exactly as I’m told.  I even cook the potatoes and pumpkin in the electric frypan to ensure I don’t disturb Cyril’s cooking temperature.  Oh no, you can’t accuse me of being a non-caring Meandering Duck.  I look after my own kind.

DUCK EATING TIME

Cyril’s skin looks nice and crispy – I figure the hairdryer trick worked well.  He’s had his 20 minute rest before devouration begins.

Our mouths are watering, he smells pretty darned fine.  I do note, however, he’s a lot smaller cooked than when he was raw.

It’s time to eat the duck.

VERDICT

There’s not a lot of meat on a duck is there.  Almost had to get out the microscope to find where it was.

Sadly, Cyril is tough and dry despite the special gravy I have miraculously produced.  What a disappointment.  Perhaps I’ve done something wrong to have him turn out such a tough ol’ bugger.  Maybe he had an aversion to the hairdryer.

Really not happy with Cyril, he smelled so good while cooking.  I’m feeling I need to sue on the grounds of ‘Inappropriate Tough Duck’ or ‘Excess Chewing Required Leading to Sore Jaw’ or ‘Lack of Juicy Meat on Duck’.  Are there any good duck lawyers out there?

The potatoes were nice though.

When comments turn into spam

Most comments left on my blog look a lot like spam.  Why are people bothering to do this?  What possible benefit could there be?

I’m not an expert at anything technical.  I know a bit of HTML, can find my way around any Content Management System, and can talk fairly legibly about accessibility on the web.

But aargh, I’m strictly amateur when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), editing CSS, altering templates or making sure everything’s set up beautifully and working like a flowing stream on every browser known to mankind.

And one thing I was definitely not good at was working out who’s being sincere when comments were left on my blog.  It took a bit of messing around to realise I needed to check the email and web addresses for each comment … and that “bigpenis@babes.com” might be spam.

WHAT ARE THEY WRITING?

These spammers do write some very nice stuff though.  Much of it is most flattering – they’ve obviously worked out what gets a reply or will be published.

Here’s some examples for your quiet enjoyment.  Note these are mostly coming from skincare or porn sites at this stage.

(1) Dodgy Islamic website (Google can’t translate this one!)
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(2) A limp dick website (as I like to call them) …
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(3) Another different limp dick website …
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(4) Yet another limp dick site …
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(5) And another limp dick …
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(6) Skincare site …
Wonderful items from you, man. I have keep in mind your stuff prior to and you are just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you’ve got right here, certainly like what you’re stating and the best way in which you assert it. You’re making it entertaining and you continue to care for to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great web site.

(7) And another skincare site …
I’m really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your weblog. Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Either way keep up the excellent quality writing, it is rare to see a nice blog like this one these days.

WHY SPAM?

Fortunately WordPress has spam filters which catch this stuff and allow you to approve it if it’s actually genuine.  The trouble is you have to spend time trawling through to work out what really is genuine. And most of it is completely wasting your time.

Spammer evolution - worm to cockroach to spammerI’m trying to work out what the point of these is, other than inflating my ego.  Are these people:

(a) completely stupid morons
(b) breaking the law
(c) thinking I’ll approve their comment and my readers will click their dodgy link and buy something
(d) thinking I’ll email them back so they’ve got my email address
(e) nasty parasites?

It turns out they’re all these things, but the one thing in common is they’re making money from it. How much I do not know.  However I found a rather good pdf at Antispam Hong Kong which goes into some detail about this topic.

In essence, spammers earn money by sending rubbish emails and comments to:
* sell their product
* gather e-mail addresses
* get you to join an affiliate program

So these morons are sending comments to blogs to get you to reply and voila, they have your email address.

How is this done?  Techies suspect that web robots (bots) detect you have a WordPress blog, and therefore know the fields in the form used for submitting comments.  Then they proceed to blast you with cr*p.

I’m only small fry at the moment, but given the dodgy companies I’m getting comments from, I figure it’s only bots who’d bother wasting time doing this. Anyone with half a brain wouldn’t bother.

So I’m off to figure out how to stop these as much as possible.  My gawd spammers, you really know how to waste people’s time.  I sincerely hope all your fingers fall off.