As part of the Sydney Festival, UNSW is allowing Joe Public to get our mitts on the T-Visionarium. It's an interactive 360^ television environment in which 300 brief clips from a database of 20,000+ are played on 3D windows projected in a grid pattern around a room.
Use the handheld pointer to select a window and it enlarges, activating the audio stream. Press buttons to alter the values of seven criteria (eg. motion, communication) and the "screens" will reshuffle as the software displays the most relevant clip, surrounding it with examples of similarly classified footage. And in the same way a good thesaurus offers antonyms as well as synonyms, the other side of the room will show clips "opposite" to your criteria.
Leaving aside the present technical limitations and obvious issue of subjectivity in classification, it's a nifty piece of kit that's surely worth half an hour of your existence to do the tour.
The Komachi Japanese restaurant in Surry Hills has a long-standing ramen challenge... If you can scoff a huge bowl of the spicy chicken or spicy pork variety in an hour, they'll award you a $50 voucher and stick your pic in the store window. Fail and they'll charge you a fiddy for the food.
The meal equates to six normal servings - or, in numerical terms, 1kg of noodles, 300g of meat and (minimal) vegetables, and 3.5 litres of soup. The liquid component's the killer 'cos it ain't no clear broth, but rather a dark, gelatinous gravy. I know because I attempted the feat on Saturday evening, in the company of my sister and her family.
I'd prepared by having a medium-sized breakfast and lunch - so as to keep my stomach from shrinking without sating my appetite - while doing light exercise in the arvo, viz. trudging to and from the UNSW's Scientia building, site of the T-Visionarium :-)
Komachi give you the option of tackling the dish as a whole or in two equal portions. Fortuitously, I chose the latter. They make you sign a form absolving them of any liability for injuries sustained...while playing the "Rocky" theme in what would seem encouragement to push oneself beyond mortal parameters.
The first 50% of my spicy chicken ramen arrived and it was murky, steaming hot and daunting. I clicked my stopwatch. Along with chopsticks, there was a ladle and regular bowl for isolating clumps of the noodles. This proved the optimum method for beating the heat.
By the 16-minute mark, the 500g of curly carbs were in my belly. The chook and veg took comparatively longer as I felt the need to dredge up every morsel before drinking the thick soup. After 27 minutes, I'd effectively consumed three main meals and was halfway to glory and financial gain.
It was then I did something I've done on many occasions, though never in relation to eating challenges: I quit. You see, I knew with absolute certainty that I couldn't do for the same amount again. One quarter as much, yes. Half as much, maybe. But all of it? Not on your Nelly Furtado.
I don't think, apart from the sweating, it was apparent I was nearing my discomfort zone, as waitresses twice asked if I was ready for the next bowl. As greedy as I must sound, I abhor waste. The equivalent of 1-2 servings wasn't gonna be tossed in the trash to feed (sorry) my vanity. I announced my surrender.
With sis's discount card, the experiment set me back $45. Considering a triple helping of ramen ordinarily costs $39, that's far from the dearest lesson I'll ever learn.
Today mirrored last Sunday in that I spent the majority of it at PB's, our eyes supaglued to the NFL playoffs. Hefty homemade hamburgers and Barefoot Radler - a refreshing lemon'n'lime-flavoured alcoholic soft drink masquerading as a beer - only improved the situation.