Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Year End House Cleaning

All right, I'm cleaning up the sidebar for the end of the year. Below are all of the books that I read this year after I started blogging. Of course this doesn't include the comic books.

Death from the Skies! - Philip Plait - ****
The Born Queen - Greg Keyes - ***
Blood Knight - Greg Keyes - ***
The Joker - Brian Azzarello - *****
The Hero of Ages - Brandon Sanderson - ****
The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson - ****
The House of the Stag - Kage Baker - *****
The Accidental Time Machine - Joe Haldeman - ***
Maus - Art Speigelman - ***
Mistborn - Brandon Sanderson - ****
The Charnel Prince - Greg Keyes - ****
Juggler of Worlds - Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner - *** 1/2
The Briar King - Greg Keyes - ****
Playgrounds of the Mind - Larry Niven - ****
N-Space - Larry Niven - ****
Fragile Things - Neil Gaiman - ****
Murder Mysteries - Neil Gaiman - ****
The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch - Neil Gaiman - ****
Neutron Star - Larry Niven - ****
Tales from Known Space - Larry Niven - ****
World of Ptaavs - Larry Niven - ****
The Flight of the Horse - Larry Niven - ****
A Hole in Space - Larry Niven - ****
The Princess Bride - William Goldman - ****
How the States Got Their Shapes - Mark Stein - **
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho - ***
A Practical Guide to Racism - C. H. Dalton - ***
Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank - Celia Rivenbark - ***
Zorro - Isabell Allenda - ***
Magic Burns - Ilona Andrews - ****
Up Till Now: The Autobiography - Willam Shatner - ****
My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy - Nancy Cartwright - ***
The Botany of Desire - Micahel Pollan - **
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - Michael Pollan - ***
Prom Nights from Hell - short stories - **
Y: the Last Man - Brian Vaughan - ****
Owly, Volume 4 - Andy Runton - ****
Wintersmith - Terry Pratchett - *****
A Hat Full of Sky - Terry Pratchett - *****
The Wee Free Men - Terry Pratchett - *****
The Complete Peanuts 1959-1962 Box Set - Charles Schulz - ****
The Name of the Wind - Patrick Rothfuss - *****
Iron Kissed - Patricia Briggs - ****
Blood Bound - Patrica Briggs - ****
Moon Called - Patricia Briggs - ** + 1/2
Personal Demon - Kelley Armostrong - ****
Small Favor - Jim Butcher - ****
Holidays are Hell - short stories - ***
The Outlaw Demon Wails - Kim Harrison - ****
For a Few Demons More - Kim Harrison - ***
Dates from Hell - short stories - ***
A Fistful of Charms - Kim Harrison - ***
Every Which Way but Dead - Kim Harrison - ***
The Good, The Bad, and the Undead - Kim Harrison - ***
Dead Witch Walking - Kim Harrison - ****
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents - Terry Pratchett - *****

Monday, December 29, 2008

Light Echo

Okay, go here, and see a really cool compilation of pictures morphed into a movie.

I've been watching the progression of these pictures since 2002, and it's really amazing to see how rapidly this shell has grown in less than seven years.

Here it is without the morph.

And then a quote from another compilation:

The sequence of images in this video depicts the variable star V838 Monocerotis (or V838 Mon) - a so called 'red supergiant' star in the constellation of Monoceros - exhibiting a phenomenon known as the light echo effect.At first glance, the image sequence appears to be that of an expanding cloud of dust and gas moving outward from the star. Actually, the cloud already surrounds the star, but had always been too thin and tenuous to be visible, and so was never detected up until just recently.When V838 Mon underwent a sudden expansion and then a contraction (giant and supergiant stars have a tendency to do this!), it flared-up giving off a bright flash of light in January of 2002. The expanding sphere of light traveling outward from the star lit up successive surrounding cloud layers as it proceeded to travel through them, rendering them visible for the first time.The diameter of the widest image is of the order of about five light years. The images were therefore taken over a period of about two and a half years. Each image was taken around 7 to 8 months apart.

And then the Hubble site.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Return

And tomorrow we're back at work. The weekend was not much to speak of. Time with the in-laws was surprisingly draining. I dozed a little yesterday, and I dozed a little today.

I finished The Born Queen by Greg Keyes, and read a book, I never got on my active reading list.

The Born Queen was a good book for the end of the series. I enjoyed the final conflicts between the powers and the way things were wrapped up in the end. The series wasn't great, but it was entertaining and engaging.

Then there's Death from the Skies! by Philip Plait. That was a fun book which again goes to show just what kind of a person I am. It's an astronomy book by the creator of the Bad Astronomy blog at Discover Magazine online.The book is about the many ways that life and the earth could be affected by various incidents from or in outer space. And written in ways that both the scientist and layman could enjoy.

And tomorrow, I will once again try to pick up Paul of Dune at the library.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Travel and Music

The weather was just good enough to fly on Tuesday, so we are now in Portland.

Today Jennifer and I spent the morning shoveling the in-laws' driveway. It was a fair trade for the drive they had to make from Yamhill to PDX and back to pick us up. And the shoveling wasn't too bad with two of us doing it.

It was above freezing by about 10:00, so the melt was on for quite a while. I'm sure it's dropped back below, but it's supposed to be above tomorrow, and then all day Friday, so we'll make it back to the Bay Area just fine.

While flying, Alanis Morisette's "You Oughta Know" came on the iPod, and it took me back to when it was a new song, and I was driving cross country with my cousin the Air Force pilot. We traveled fast, and made it to Louisville from Concord in 37 hours. With an 8 hour stop somewhere in Wyoming (or Colorado).

There are a few other songs that transport me. Most of them are ones that I used to listen to on the radio while playing Ultima III on my Apple II+.

Monday, December 22, 2008

200th Post - Christmas and Traveling

Well, this makes me feel pretty good: 200 posts. That gives a sense of accomplishment.

This morning Jennifer and I were sleeping in when we got a phone call from her dad. PDX (Portland's airport) is closed today due to snow. They've got 2 feet of snow. Now, I figure New York is just laughing at them, but still.

We are supposed to be flying out tomorrow around 5 or 6 PM. We'll see what happens. I'll be refreshing the PDX webpage all day tomorrow.

Last night Jennifer and I went out looking at Christmas lights. First we went looking for hot chocolate, and had to end up at McDonald's because Caffino and Starbucks (nearby) were closed already. Jennifer got hot chocolate, I got a milk shake (chocolate), and we shared a large fries.

Then we drove around Pleasant Hill looking at lights while listening to Christmas music. It was quite the wonderful evening.

Friday, December 19, 2008


My MP3 collection is large and ever growing.

Last night I was taking songs off of the iPod and dealing with duplicates. Towards the end, I was selecting unconnected songs by holding the CTRL key down and then clicking on the song for later deletion. I made the mistake of clicking on the check box to load the song instead of just the song name.

iTunes then unchecked all of my songs.

Last night was a loss, and I know what I'm doing tonight.

I am sadness.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Oh the time just flies when you're not blogging

So yeah, quite the time I had in the field.

I put in one well in Marysville (nice two hour drive in the fog). That took two days. One day to clear 4 feet with a soil vacuum rig, and then one day to drill and install about 35 feet with an auger rig. Why didn't we do it all in one day? The two rigs weren't available on the same day. And we had planned to install two other wells, but they were on a Mervyns parking lot, and that's just gotten all messed up with the bankruptcy and the new buyer.

I was back in the office that Friday (12/5), but didn't get much done aside from get ready for six days in the field in Pleasanton.

That job went nicely. Incredibly nicely. No disasters, no setbacks, no slowdowns aside from the site safety check on Thursday. We put in two wells to almost 40 feet, and four wells to almost 70 feet. And yes it was cold (for California), but we only had rain for half a day this Monday, and we had lucked into working near the station canopy, so we were mostly under shelter.

This week so far has been catch up at the office with report reviews, and paperwork for follow-up of the field work. It almost makes me look forward to the trip to Portland. Almost.

There's snow up there. With ice underneath.

At least we'll likely be inside most of the time since Jennifer's parent's don't go out much.

We can only hope.

Geologist List

So through the writings of Kim Hannula, I found the list below from Geotripper.

I like these kinds of lists. They're more specific to a person than the generic "100 Things...". Items in italics have not yet been accomplished.

1. See an erupting volcano. - Yeah, it's a goal. The main reason I want to go to Hawaii. And that just shows how weird I truly am.

2. See a glacier. - Since I'm guessing from closer up than Mt. Shasta from I-5, I have to say "Not Yet."

3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland. - Again, not quite. Little Hot Creek in Long Valley and its little hot pots don't quite count.

4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy; Stevns Klint, Denmark; the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. - Nope.

5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage. - Was this last year or the year before? It was New Years Day when Grayson Creek flooded in Pacheco. And I'm guessing that being on the bridge spanning the creek is not necessarily at a safe distance.

6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia). - I got to take a night tour through Mammoth Cave in Kentucky while out there for grad school. It's an awesome sight.

7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile. - Outside of Getchell, Nevada, for my Ore Deposits course at Sacramento State. We saw a few pits, and got to enter one of them. It dwarfed any stadium I've been in including parking lots. And there was a one in thick layer of crystalline barite about halfway up the walls.

8. Explore a subsurface mine. - This time for ore deposits and then field mapping at Sac. The first was a large modern gold mine near Jackson Slough. The shaft was only slightly inclined (more of a long adit), but was big enough for two large dump trucks to use. Lots of quartz veins in black slate. The other was an old gold mine in Placerville. Narrow and irregular, but beautiful walls of mariposite.

9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California). - Every time I drive to Point Reyes, or the Marin Headlands I get to see this.

10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too). - Not yet.

11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw. - Hopefully soon.

12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere. - I actually got to see a small example outside of Livermore doing a fault trench. We came across a small pond that had obvious varves.

13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. - Yup. And Rock City on Mt. Diablo.

14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland. - Nope.

15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website). - Yup.

16. A gingko tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. - I actually have one in a pot beside my garage, but Sac State had scores of them; unfortunately both male and female, so the stench was quite overwhelming in the spring. And we had on in the yard in Kentucky when I was in high school.

17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) - Yeah, but I can't remember where I was.

18. A field of glacial erratics. - Not a field no.

19. A caldera. - Long Valley. Not all at once of course, but we traveled over most of the caldera. And sometime this year, Jennifer and I have plans to go to Crater Lake.

20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high. - Nope.

21. A fjord. - No.

22. A recently formed fault scarp. - Only in pictures.

23. A megabreccia. - No.

24. An actively accreting river delta. - Yes, I'm sure, but no specific examples come to mind.

25. A natural bridge. - No.

26. A large sinkhole. - Back in Kentucky.

27. A glacial outwash plain. - Long Valley again. There are quite a few.

28. A sea stack. - Plenty along the California coast.

29. A house-sized glacial erratic. - No.

30. An underground lake or river. - In the Mammoth Cave complex.

31. The continental divide - Many times from driving cross-country from California to Kentucky.
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals. - Lately at a rock and mineral show, but also in both my mineralogy and ore deposits courses.

33. Petrified trees. - In a museum and I've some pieces, but never in nature.

34. Lava tubes. - The jets near Depoe Bay in Oregon are believed to be formed by tidal water being forced into lava tubes. But I have yet to walk through any.

35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. - No. When I returned to California from Kentucky, the Grand Canyon was not yet completed, and the far side was shrouded in fog. I hope to return, but there's no way I'm walking on the transparent walkway.

36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible. - Hopefully when I return to the Grand Canyon.

37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world. - No.

38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m). - No.

39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale. - No.

40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe. - No.

41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania. - No.

42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water. - No.

43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high. - No.

44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing. - No, but I've seen the jointing in the Bishop Tuff in Long Valley.

45. The Alps. - No.

46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below. - No.

47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art. - No.

48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst. - No.

49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge. - No.

50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders. - No.

51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck. - No.

52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist. - No.

53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America. - And perhaps the Flying Dutchman.

54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism. - Only from a distance. Someday I need to go to Oregon during good weather.

55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows. - No, but definitely a goal.

56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa. - No.

57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn". - No.

58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain. - Yes, in high school, but I didn't know why they were special at the time.

59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington. - No.

60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity. - No.

61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley. - Also something to see soon.

62. Yosemite Valley. - Twice. I've even been fortunate enough to see the sno-cone under Yosemite Falls.

63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah. - No.

64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia. - No.

65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington. - No.

66. Bryce Canyon. - No.

67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone. - No, and I just need to get to Yellowstone period.

68. Monument Valley. - No.

69. The San Andreas fault. - I've flown parallel to it many times, and I've seen the offset fence many times at Point Reyes Station.

70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain. - No.

71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands. - No.

72. The Pyrenees Mountains. - No.

73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand. - No.

74. Denali (an orogeny in progress). - No, but my uncle has climbed it.

75. A catastrophic mass wasting event. - You mean besides all the ones I created my climbing during summer and winter field? I have seen many collapsed slopes along the Oakland Hills and certain housing projects throughout the Bay Area.

76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park. - No.

77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches). - No, but Jennifer brought me back some sand.

78. Barton Springs in Texas. - No.

79. Hells Canyon in Idaho. - No.

80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. - No.

81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia. - No, but oh, so tempting.

82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0. - Yeah this has happened a few times. Especially back when the Hayward Fault was overly active in the late 70s and early 80s. I was in Sac during Loma Prieta, and Zzyzx during Northridge, so I've missed recent the big ones.

83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ. - No.

84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil). - Lots of brachiopods in the road cuts on the road from Lexington to Maysville.

85. Find gold, however small the flake. - Panning in the Sierra Nevada.

86. Find a meteorite fragment. - No.

87. Experience a volcanic ash fall. - Only the fringe, but the dust content was high after Mt. St. Helens.

88. Experience a sandstorm. - Driving from California to Kentucky for grad school, my cousin and I went through one in Utah.

89. See a tsunami. - No.

90. Witness a total solar eclipse. - No.

91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game). - Bugger you chasing, I've had one jump my subdivision when I was a kid. I've seen the green sky and clouds, and seen a funnel dropping.

92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower. - No, the Perseids and Leonids have yet to be that exciting.

93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope. - Chabot baby.

94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. - Not yet, but I've got Jennifer very excited to see these.

95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century - Comet Hyakutate. We saw it naked eye while walking to Dairy Queen drunk during a party.

96. See a lunar eclipse. - Hard not to really.

97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope. - Andromeda, and others at Chabot.

98. Experience a hurricane - Hurricane Gloria during my Junior year of high school, Fall 1985. I'd had snow days and ice days in Kentucky and heat days in California, but it took a year in Maryland to have a hurricane day.

99. See noctilucent clouds. - Yes. Another bonus of living near the coast.

100. See the green flash. - It's debatable, so I'm guessing no.

Friday, December 12, 2008


All week in the field (not to mention the end of last week), and oh so hard to get back in the swing of things. I'm catching up on my Internet tonight while Jennifer is at a party, and I ran across this video by Lore Sjöberg (also available on his site here)which is full of awesome and win.

I can remember when Lore was doing stuff on Brunching Shuttlecocks and the Book of Ratings.

It's so cool and uplifting to see him working for Wired magazine.

I still check up on Slumbering Lungfish Dybbuk Hostel and All-Night Boulangerie. I miss the ratings of the state quarters the most, but still enjoy hearing whatever he has to speak about.

I have one more day installing monitoring wells in Pleasanton on Monday, and then I'm back in the office for four days before vacation and the trek to Portland for Christmas. Hopefully, I can get adjusted to being inside before being crammed into an airplane.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Food and Ink

Last night Jennifer and I had dinner at Nibblers in Pleasant Hill. We hadn't been there since Jennifer's birthday a few years ago. It was really a nice experience as always.

And while there, I got a call from Phil, and we've scheduled the black for the burning "S" for Saturday afternoon at 1:00 in Sacramento. Then I'll be going to a party that night. It'll be interesting.

Monday, December 01, 2008

More Books

This weekend I also finished a lot of books. I had planned to read while convalescing from the tattoo, but well...

Anyway, I got through my stack of comics and am thoroughly enjoying the "New Krypton" arc through the Superman titles, and Alex Ross' continuation (or actually interlude) of his Kingdom Come tale in Justice Society of America. And The Joker by Brian Azzarello is absolutely amazing. It's done with the Joker and others in the style of "The Dark Knight" movie, but in regular Batman style continuity. Azzarello's take on Harley Quinn and the Riddler are really cool. And you don't even see Batman until the last few pages. It's going to be up there with The Killing Joke by Alan Moore for me.

I also finished The Hero of Ages by Brian Sanderson, which was a very good closing of his trilogy. I look more and more towards his conclusion to "The Wheel of Time."

Jennifer is still reading Terry Pratchett's Nation. I'm on it as soon as she's done, and she's loving it. She says it's like Pratchett's trying to get all of his thoughts out of his head and on paper before the Alzheimer's can take them away from him.

Netflix Madness

Sunday Jennifer and I watched three DVDs.

Well, kind of.

We tried to watch the final DVD for "Planet Earth" but the three shows on it were all about conservation and save the planet and stuff. We're kind of the wrong people to watch that in the same way it's not necessary to tell boys that dinosaurs are cool.

(I'd say "...and girls that ponies are cute", but I'm afraid Miss Em would smack me long distance.)

We also watched two episodes of the original "Star Trek": "A Private Little War" (mugatu!) and "The Triskelions" (quatloos!).

The third thing we watched was George Carlin's second HBO special. This one was done in the round. In 1978. We're working through his shows as chronologically as I could arrange them.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

No Ink is Not Good Ink

Well, no completion to the tattoo yesterday.

We got up to EVT, and started to walk upstairs, and one of the guys downstairs asked if he could help us. I said I was getting work from Phil, and they said he wasn't in.

He tried to call me Sunday, but he didn't leave a message, so I didn't know he wasn't going to be there.


But we'll get back up there and get the burning "S" finished, and talk about the rest of the piece.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tenaya Rocks

And Saturday's climax was seeing "Tenaya Rocks!" at Stage Werx.

We walked from our favorite parking spot behind Kennedy's to Union Square, and watched the ice skaters before the show. Then we headed down Sutter, and went to the show.

Put on by Tenaya Hurst, the show was... well, I can only call it geology filk. Not that that is a bad thing. I think my favorites were the new lyrics to "Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend."

Tenaya was a thrill to watch and hear. Jennifer and a friend had been to see the show opening night, and we were lucky enough to get tickets for closing night.

The blending of science, songs, and sexuality went beyond what Jennifer had described to me. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and will be tracking Tenaya in the future. I just wish I had been able to see the show sooner, so that I could have shared the good news and humor with some of the other geologists I know.

And I should say that none of the geology students at Sacramento, or Kentucky looked like her.

Pier 39 and the Wharf

Saturday, Jennifer and I spent the day in the city. We had tickets to a show Saturday night, and Jennifer had wanted to see the tree lighting ceremony at Pier 39.

And we killed most of the afternoon on the Pier. We got some Christmas shopping done, and enjoyed people watching.

The best bit was when we were taking a break in the hallway outside of the marine mammal center. In one window they have a complete skeleton of a male sea lion that died of natural causes. Two men who I can only describe as rednecks walked by, and paused at the window. As they moved on, one said to the other, "I didn't know they had bones."

I shit you not. Fortunately Jennifer and I were able to stifle our laughter until they left.

And then about 5:00, we headed to the front of the Pier for the lighting ceremony. I asked Jennifer about where she had seen the sign (hoping to check up on the time for the ceremony), and she said up near the street, and that it had said the ceremony was on the 23rd. I paused, and said, that's Sunday.

So we did see the lighting ceremony, but we did have a fun day.

It reminded me of when I was a little kid, and Pier 39 first opened. At the time it was so different. And it was one of the first places that they had the silver mylar helium balloons. They were so awesome .

Amazon Shipment

Friday I got my shipment from Amazon a business day early. This being Friday, a business day was three days early.

Inside was:

  • Necronomicon Tarot which I had purchased as a replacement for the wrinkled set I bought at Mystic Dream (formerly Dolphin Dream) in Walnut Creek. The artwork is really cool, crossing Lovecraft and classic tarot imagery.
  • Serenity Found which, as the cover says, is further essays on "Firefly" and "Serenity".
  • Nation, Terry Pratchett's latest book. It's not part of Discworld (as far as I know), but his stuff is always great. I'm still finishing up The Hero of Ages, so Jennifer is getting first crack at this one.
  • WALL-E, the three disc DVD. The third disc gives me an electronic version, which is all set to go on the iPod. I watched "BURN-E" first, and then WALL-E. It's really an amazing movie. I still can't believe the pull it has on my emotions. And not just for a robot, but for an animated robot.
And my replacement for GURPS Thaumatology is supposed to arrive today. I put the original in the mail today.

Friday, November 21, 2008


And then the Bloom County strip, I mentioned here.

Promises to Keep

First off, here are pictures of the damaged book:

See my tie curl?

Yesterday at work, I sent an e-mail to one of our regulators at the water board asking for an extension to a well installation report that is due in December.

Today my project manager asked me to call the regulator to make sure he had received my e-mail.

He wasn't in.

So I left a voice mail asking that he call me to let me know if he received my e-mail.


Now I wonder if I should send an e-mail to make sure he listens to his voice mail and gets my message asking him to call me and let me know if he got my e-mail asking for an extension.

I think my program manager needs to grow pointy hair.

Secret Lives

Okay, I got this link from Yesbutnobutyes, and it's a pretty cool story.

Thaumatology woes

Yesterday my copy of GURPS Thaumatology arrived from Amazon...


I know that things have been going around the Internet for the insane amount of packaging some products get. The 6 cubic foot box with three other boxes in it, plus bubble wrap and tissue paper for the 2 GB jump drive inside. But usually Amazon is good about shrink wrapping a book to a larger piece of cardboard so that the corner are protected.

Mine wasn't. I got the book, and three air pillows. Both bottom corners were round from the impacts of shipping.

Amazon is nice enough that they're sending me a replacement, and I printed out a free shipping label. I'll probably send it out once I get my replacement.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Tuesday night, I took Dad to see "Quantum of Solace". We had a good time and enjoyed the movie.

There were even less gadgets than Casino Royale, but the GPS tracking business card was a cool touch.

My only complaint is that Dad and I both had never seen concrete burn quite so much.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


John has thrown down another gauntlet.

So here's the news: "Meh" is now a word. Check the news.

It's a good word. I have of course heard it on "The Simpsons", but I'm thinking that I used to hear it in "Tiny Toon Adventures".

And the best place to find it is Something Positive.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Science and Science Fiction

I ran across these questions at All of My Faults Are Stress-Related, and thought I'd join in. there are two sets of questions which can be found here and here. I'm not really a science fiction writer, there is little science to what I write. However...

What is your relationship to science fiction? Do you read it? Watch it? What/who do you like and why?

I read science fiction, probably in a 2:3 ratio with fantasy. Fantasy has increased in recent years just because I haven't found many science fiction authors that excite me anymore. My first introduction to science fiction was H.G. Wells and The War of the Worlds. More Wells followed with The Time Machine and The Invisible Man. I've read others of his works, so I learned about cavorite, but none of the others really captured me like the big three.

A few years later the movie "Dune" came out, so I began on Frank Herbert. I read the Dune series, and a few of his other books, and was very depressed when he died. And then I found Robert Heinlein, and Job introduced me to the wide range of alternate realities. And then I found Larry Niven who has consistently remained my favorite for science fiction. Known Space keeps me coming back wishing for more.

As for watching science fiction, it's really difficult sometimes. I will refrain from naming the trinity of geology movie bastardizations. My favorites for science fiction are "Firefly"/"Serenity", "Eureka", and the lamented "Journeyman".

What do you see as science fiction's role in promoting science, if any? Can it do more than make people excited about science? Can it harm the cause of science?

I think good science fiction can interest children and adults into following a science education and career. The best example I can think of is "How William Shatner Changed the World". Additional examples can be found in Larry Niven's writings on the science fiction authors who were allowed to be present when the Voyagers passed Saturn. The combination of imagination and science can only help fields grow.

Have you used science fiction as a starting point to talk about science? Is it easier to talk about people doing it right or getting it wrong?

Every now and then I have been talking to people about science fiction books or stories, and we've segued into science discussions. Or I've used science fiction examples to expand on a point in a scientific discussion. Sometimes to extreme thoughts of science fiction can help set an upper bound for what people see as possible.

Are there any specific science or science fiction blogs you would recommend to interested readers or writers?

I'm not a big follower as yet of science blogs, but ones I do check out every day are Bad Astronomy, Astronomy Picture of the Day, and NASA's Image of the Day. For science fiction blogs, nothing I've seen yet comes close to io9. And to add a bit of a twist, XKCD is a great science webcomic, and Schlock Mercenary is a fun science fiction webcomic.

Sensory Flashback

I had a Coke today.

There was one in the break room up for grabs. So I grabbed. Normally, I'm a Pepsi guy, but free caffeine and all.

Also in the break room were brownie bites.

One sip of coke and a bit of the brownie, and suddenly I'm back in my junior year of high school in Maryland.

At the end of the school day, when I had been allowed to borrow the car and not take the bus, I would be able to hang around the band room, and chat with fiends. Outside of the band room were two vending machines: Coke and candy. And my typical after-school-at-school snack was a Coke and M&Ms.

So in my flashback, I can see my friends, and the band room. The white floor tiles. The hand rail that led to the back stage.

Strange times, and good times.

Engulf and Devour

Yesterday before going to the gym, I stopped by the library and picked up the last two TPB volumes of Y: The Last Man by Brian Vaughan.

Then I went home, and finished The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson. it was really a good book. I'm looking forward to Reading the third book now, and really eager to see how he writes and wraps up Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series.

And then, since Jennifer was out, I read both volumes of Y.

I can say that I'm glad I read them, and I appreciate the closer, but some parts really didn't help the series. At least that's what I think.

Like the general of the Israeli army who is driving her soldiers to help her find Yorick (the last man), not so that she can get his DNA to revive the planet in kosher fashion. She feels that women are weak, those in her squad and across the world, and she wants to die in battle by the hands of a man.

She's that character in any post-apocalyptic/disaster movie, that just keeps coming, and you know is going to cause shit all through the story, and is never going to be redeemed. And it just pisses you off, because there's enough room in the story for so much more than just this relentless character.

I got to bed about 2 AM. I need a nap.

You Have Got to be Kidding Me

They're doing it again. I am trying to come up with another word that has been bastardized as much a "Infrared" seems to be.

I saw a thing like this at Costco on Saturday. But I am freshly shocked at seeing it elsewhere.

I mean really? Infrared technology? Has someone patented a specific frequency of the EM spectrum in the infrared range?

I begin to wonder. Microwaves used to be called radar ranges. Now radar waves are right next to microwaves in the spectrum, so maybe it's not such a big thing. But the layman is pretty up on ultraviolet and X-rays. Some might even know that gamma rays were not invented my Marvel Comics, but are actually a higher frequency than X-rays.

But now infrared has become a technology. Yes, this cooker does use infrared, so it's not lying. But so do my stove, oven, frying pan, grill, blowtorch, dashboard, and carburetor.

I have gone off on this before, but now I start to wonder about things. Are there areas of science that I'm ignorant of whose words have had this done to them?

Does Oxyclean really clean with oxygen? Does an ozone filtration system really use ozone? Does my supplement really have iron or spirolina?

I'm not done; I just can't keep typing while shaking my head in amazed disillusion.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Random and Assorted Thoughts

I just got off the phone with Phil from EVT. He'd had a cancellation by his artist (he was going to get work done), and has an opening for the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I'll go in and get the black done for the burning "S", and then we'll have time set aside for planning the future of the back piece. I'll bring artwork printouts, and talk about what I'd like in the future as far as ideas and such.

* * *
Saturday night Jennifer and I watched "Equilibrium" on DVD. That is an intense movie. It's fun and exciting. And it has the occasional levity as well. Very good
* * *
Got my comics on Saturday too. And some cool lead minis as well. I think the next time I'm unoccupied, I think I'll take some close-ups, and post them here.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Oink, Oink, Oink

Tonight Jennifer, Steve, John, and I went out and took a -=FNORD=- Cruise.

We opened the night with dinner at [REDACTED]. The scenery there was so-so.

Then we went to Pier 39, and at Dock (illegible) boarded our boat.

On board we met T____ and L____. They {Lost in Translation}, and then we did various other activities:

  • The P... R...
  • The W...C... R...
  • P... S...
  • L... B... R...
  • and a G... - ... - G... S... S...

All with an open bar.


I’ll be in my bunk.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Philosophical Homophones

John threw down the gauntlet with this post this morning.

Now, the first thing I thought of was an old Bloom County Sunday strip which I will try to dig up and scan tonight. Milo (with Opus following behind) goes to a Lost and Found kiosk, and announces that he has lost his youthful idealism. He goes on a building tirade about other lost intangibles.

Then I went to Murphy's Law, Finagle Law (or Corollary), and others. My favorite has always been Clarke's Laws:

  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

And also there is Cole's Law (thinly sliced cabbage).

Of course this all kind of falls flat when I say that I didn't shave today.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Worn out

Well, Ms. Baker never fails to entertain.

I finished The House of the Stag during lunch today. A bit of a long lunch, but I could not stop reading.

Each portion of the story is told so well, and has its own voice. I had to read through to see if it would end before I ran out of pages, or if it was to be a cliffhanger.

And I am not unsatisfied.

There is action, humor, and even some religious commentary.

A truly amazing book.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Time Travel and Fantasy

Sunday, while Jennifer was the the Raiders' game, I spent most of the day reading.

I finished The Accidental Time Machine by Joe Haldeman. It was very engaging for the first two thirds of the book. Imagine a time machine that can only go forward (preserving all the pesky laws of conservation and such), and each time travels approximately 12 times farther each jump.

So first jump, 1 second. Second jump 12 seconds. Third jump 144 seconds. And so on.

Matthew quickly learns how to get things to travel with the machine, and later begins his jumps through time.

The hand-waving kind of ending with what seemed like a quick summary of events went by too quickly, and left me unsatisfied.

But now I am on to The House of the Stag by Kage Baker, which is a prequel of her Anvil of the World. Kage Baker's style of writing captivates me. Mother Aegypt, a collection of short stories, was the first thing I read by her, and her language and skill made me want more.

I'm already halfway through this latest book, and then I will get back to (and hopefully finish) The Well of Ascension, before picking up Paul of Dune at the library.

Movie Night

Friday, Jennifer and I ran a few errands, and then came home and watched "The Fall".

I put this in the ol' Netflix queue from a recommendation from some web page as it was described as "The Princess Bride" for adults. Now, first off I thought "The Princess Bride" was already for adults.

However, the movie is amazingly stunning and entertaining. It does have a bit of "The Princess Bride" as it is a man telling a story to a little girl. But there is also some of "The Wizard of Oz" as she populates the story with people that she knows. The vividness of colors in her imagination bring to mind "Hero. And the seemingly random gathering of the Blue Bandit and his cohorts brings to mind "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen".

And yet while watching the movie, it did not seem derivative at all. It was highly entertaining and enjoyable.

Caramel and Silk Ivy

Saturday morning, I was explaining to Jennifer the setup for the game. The characters are in ruins in the middle of an old forest. For best imagery, picture Angkor Wat. I showed her the "ruins" created with caramels, and said I'd tried to used the "barbed wire" decoration from the party. She then suggested we run to Michael's for ivy.

And we found some.

As well as some small, slightly flattened, glass beads of varying colors. And some plastic gems.

The colored beads we use to indicate things like spell area effects, clouds, and fire (to name a few). I got some fiery red, lightning blue, and amber beads, and some crystal clear gems. I only used the fire, but the rest are going to come in handy as well in the future. Especially the water blue and poison green beads I got on Sunday when I bought little organza bags to put them all in.

And the caramels were perfect to indicate cyclopean blocks of stone.

Finally, props to Steve for passing around his pictures from his recent visit to Angkor. And I swear that I had the idea for the appearance before he told us where he had gone.

Friday, November 07, 2008

She loves me...

Jennifer and I have done lunch twice this week.

Wednesday, brought home DeVino's and we watched Sarah Connor together.

Today, she called and asked she could take me out for lunch. I was torn, because I'm in the middle of a really good book I got at the library (yeah, I need to change the What I'm Reading box), but she offered me fish and chips, so I said yes.

And when she came to pick me up she had a half pound of See's Candies dark chocolate butter chews. That's 32 cubes of chewy, sugary, chocolate goodness.

Nummy, nummy.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It is Decided...

And so it begins

Trickle, trickle, trickle...

Porno... kind of

last night, Jennifer surprised me by saying that there was a 7:00 showing of "Zack and Miri Make a Porno".

It was nice and funny. In my mind not as good as the Jersey Chronicles, but still 4 out of 5 stars.

Elizabeth Banks and Seth Rogan are fun to watch, and the rest of cast are really good.

I heartily recommend it.

Holy Pix

All right, I'm using Flickr, to keep my sets separate for parental consumption.

Here are the pictures I took.

Here are the pictures Aileen took.

And here are the pictures John took.

Not that they are all that different, but they are different enough.

Monday, November 03, 2008


It is.

And I so optimistically brought my sunglasses in this morning...

You have been warned...

Hello my name is Erik, and I'm a comic book fan.

I have been reading comics for most of my life, and mom considers a contributing factor in the speed of my learning to read. I used to have a grocery bag of comics that had been given to me by a friend of Dad's who used to run a drug store. They had the titles ripped off because they had not sold, but I read them all. I had Archie, Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, Mickey Mouse, even others.

Comic books fascinated me, and in conjunction with the Super Friends cartoon, I always wanted more. Then there was the Spider-Man cartoon, and "Superman: The Movie". I read all the books I could find at the library, and became adept at the alter egos and origins of everyone.

But slowly things became polarized. I didn't enjoy Marvel like I did DC comics. As a kid there was no X-Man or Avengers animated series, and so the DC heroes were the ones I liked the best. Spider-Man was still cool, but none of the other Marvel heroes really hooked me.

Then it is 1985, and I discover that the local book/magazine shop is carrying comics in the back. That was when it started: the real collecting. The year 1985 was DC's 50th anniversary, usually measured from the first Superman comic, but there were a few other heroes who didn't quite last that came before him. And for the anniversary, DC had decided it was going to clean-up its continuity in a year long Maxi-Series. Two primary points in the Crisis on Infinite Earths was that Barry Allen as The Flash and Kara Zor-El as Supergirl died. Dead, gone, it's new continuity. I felt for the heroes with Barry's death, but Supergirl's sacrifice actually made me cry, and I can still get in touch with that feeling when I re-read the tale.

That meant lots of crossovers and an introduction to many new heroes. Moving to Maryland the next year nearly cut me off, but I found a small drug store that carried the mainstream books, but I was still missing out. I saw ads for The Dark Knight Returns and wanted to get it, but could never find it. And there were the occasional ones that sold out, and I never found.

Maryland was also where I saw my first real comic book store. It was little more than a booth in Baltimore's Inner Harbor (designed by the same guy who did San Francisco's Pier 39), but it had back issues. Oh, the wonder of first seeing long boxes of bagged and boarded books.

Then we moved to California, and I quickly found a tiny comic shop, that was unsatisfying, but then I found Land of Nevawuz (LoN). Sadly, LoN is no more, but that became my regular weekly hangout for the new books. And there I picked up issue number one of the Wally West as the Flash series. The Flash was always one of my favorite heroes. The running fast without getting tired, and the vibrational associated powers amazed me as a kid. He was a regular in the 70s "Super Friends" series, but like Green Lantern appeared occasionally as a supporting cast. I had read about Barry Allen dying, and had some of the back-issues, but Wally sounded interesting. Wally West as The Flash quickly (sorry) became a favorite. He grew, he changed, and he became more powerful. He even fell in love and got married. Linda Park became his anchor, and that was powerful for me.

Soon DC killed off (kind of) Hal Jordan as Green Lantern, and replaced him with Kyle Rayner. And this was cool too. Hal was okay, but It was great to experience someone learning the ring.

But eventually, the outcry was too much and they brought back Hal Jordan. And while DC kept Kyle he has been shunted aside, and I got bummed.

It seemed that everyone could come back from the dead for a while in the DC universe. Even Superman. But you could count of six major players to remain dead: Barry Allen, Kara Zor-El, Jor-El and Lara, and Martha and Thomas Wayne. Before the Superman re-boot there were eight with Jonathan and Martha Kent, but they were made not-dead through not having died in continuity, one of the few things I can thank John Byrne for. And I could accept that.

A few years ago, DC reintroduced Kara Zor-El, and now we have a teenage Supergirl. I was able to accept this also as she wasn't replaced (that had been a weak series then DC tried that), but simple introduced for the first time in this new single Earth.

But still Barry Allen was dead. Wally was safe.

Recently, DC in Final Crisis brought back Barry Allen from being trapped in the Speed Force (or maybe it's the Time Stream, I'm still not sure), and essentially nerfed Wall West by making him unable to break the speed of sound like he was as a teenager. And while he is still a hero, and they have future plans for him, I am depressed.

The story writers say they brought back Barry because they loved him as a kid. But you didn't see the guys who wrote the old JSA crying because Barry had replaced Jay Garrick (the Flash from WWII).

DC says there will be a future tale dealing with Wally. I can only hope they do him justice (sorry), and ... I don't know, just leave him with his dignity.

Hello my name is Erik, and I'm a comic book fan.

Oh, and you don't want to know how much I spend every month on comics.


Don't even ask.

Sunday night

Once we got back from the football game, there was a feeling around the house of Sundays before returning to school. There was just a thick feeling of "SCHOOL NIGHT", but there was still so much light left with things to do.

I checked the hours left at Fantasy Books and Games, and seeing they were open until 7:00, I got in the car and drove down to get two weeks' worth of comic books. This includes the new Joker hard cover which I'll describe when I get a chance. One of the nice things about Saturday was that John brought the second book of Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn trilogy (and today he told me the third book is coming from him this coming Saturday) and the third book in Greg Keyes' Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series. I'm not needing the library for a while.

The thing that amazes me is the speed with which some people on the net read their comics. Granted they're reviewing the books for their blogs. Intensely reviewing. I'm just reading them for enjoyment. I've considered reviewing things more officially, but I can't quite get into it. But anyway,these people post pictures of from the books, and I almost have to skip the posts when I haven't read the books yet.

And Sunday night, I finished Mistborn. It was a fun read with good tension, exciting twists, and very little predictability. John told me, and you can see for yourself, on Sanderson's site that he is writing the conclusion to Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. After reading this first book, and John's continued (never waning) raving (truly, raving) about the trilogy, I look forward to strong ending of the Wheel of Time. Of course the Wheel never stops turning, but you get the idea.

Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!

Saturday night as we were cleaning up, I told Jennifer that we weren't going to be watching football, because we were going to go see "Zack and Miri Make a Porno". So we got ready for a movie time of 11:25 at the Pleasant Hill Century, and left early to go by the Raider Image store nearby since it was going out of business, and Jennifer is going to the Raiders-Panthers next week.

While she was fingering one of the sweatshirts, Art Thom came up and asked us if we were going to the game. Yes, that Art Thom. Jennifer said she was going next week, and he asked if we wanted to go today. She asked where, and he said 50 Yard line, 27th row. She asked how much, and he said face value. She looked at me, and then turned to him and said yes.

So we went to the Raiders game. The seats were amazing, and it having been almost 15 years since I've marched on a football field, I was amazed how small the field actually was.

And they got slaughtered 24-0.


Oh, the costumes we had. I was St. Peter in a way that I really thought more people would get. Jennifer was the Holy Ghost inspired by Eddie Izzard.

As for saints, we had St. Pauli (Girl), St. Stephen (stoned to death), Should-be-a-Saint Mother Teresa, and St. Deborah (from Judges).

Other puns we had were the Holly Ghost... Space Ghost... The "Say Ain't" Couple...

Rounding out the roll call we had two angels, a blinged out monk, a Monty Python style Spanish Inquisitor, a death (darth?) monk, Titania, and Hera/Aphrodite.

And the Dread Pirate Roberts. Not me, just Jack.

And Mike and Nick without costumes.

And I forgot my jump drive with pictures at home, so I'll post those tonight.

This is just between you and me, smashed hat...

Oh my, what a weekend.

We can continue with Friday where I dressed as Westley, the Dread Pirate Roberts. I got a wide range of comments from "Zorro!" to "You look like that guy; you know, from that movie." Essentially, no one really got the costume except for the few real geeks in the office. So I didn't win the contest, but I looked damn good.

After work, I had a haircut, and then went home and changed, and went to the gym. I got home about 7:00, and just sat down and watched "Smallville." I kept the porch light off, and only got one ring at the doorbell. I'm sure because they saw lights inside, but "No Porch Light = No Candy". I learned that at an young age. And yes, I am torn by my feelings for "Smallville" and this comic sums it up best.

Saturday morning was for shopping for the party. I was at Costco when they opened at 9:30 to get alcohol and a few other things (like roses for Jennifer). Then I went home and unpacked those bits, and waited for noon to come around. At noon I headed over to Safeway where I had ordered food trays of cold cuts, chicken, and sushi. And after getting everything into the fridges and finally prepared, I had almost five hours to kill.

It was a very relaxing time before the party. I wish it could have been like that for all of my parents' parties growign up. There was always so much stress the entire day (and a few previous) before hand. It kind of helped to have done all of the decorating Thursday night.

And then it was party time...

Friday, October 31, 2008


Last year I dressed as the Joker.
And this morning as I'm driving to work with my big black mask, I remembered driving to work on Halloween back in 1997.
I was doing temp work at the Bank One offices in Lexington, KY. I had picked up a coworker and fellow grad student, and we were on our way. Like last year, I was dressed as the Joker.
And halfway to work, I was rear-ended. I saw it coming, and was about to warn Reuben, when we got hit. The force of the impact pushed me into the car ahead of me. Twice.
The idiot in the car who hit me was some kid, and the car I hit had two large black men in it. And I was dressed as the Joker.
Soon the police arrived, and had us pull into a nearby parking lot. They took our statements, and told me that my car, a 1988 Toyota Corolla SR5, was pretty solid having not taken any real damage. And I was dressed as the Joker.
Then I got to work, and explained why I was late. I ended up winning the costume contest, and had the notoriety of having been spotted on the road by high up execs visiting from the Ohio headquarters.
Truly my most memorable Halloween.

Happy Halloween

Maybe I've said this before, but my favorite single movie is William Goldman's "The Princess Bride". And my costume this year is the Dread Pirate Roberts. ("No one would surrender to the Dread Pirate Westley.")

I've got my Faire shirt and pants, plus my sword belt and sword, but I've added a sash to the belt, gloves, and a headscarf. Plus I made my own mask. Oh, and I shaved my beard to a thin moustache. I promise to post pictures once I get some taken.

And to get me into character more, Jennifer insisted we watch the movie last night. I was finishing some things up for the party on Saturday, so I skipped the beginning, but came in for my favorite part: the sword duel. ("I do not mean to pry, but you do not happen to have six fingers on your right hand?")

Between the training and choreography, and Mark Knopfler's soundtrack, that is an incredible scene. And it pays tribute to the classic sword fights of Errol Flynn and Tyrone Power.

And the rest of the movie is so much fun.


Wednesday night, Jennifer and I went to La Piñata. And this time we had burritos.

The sheer size of these things were incredible. Jennifer said she didn't think they made tortillas that big.

It took me back to the CSUS marching band trips to San Diego, and Casa de Bandini. There you could get these huge drinks, like a fish bowl with a margarita in it. And their portions were this big too.

I would guess that the burrito was 9 inches long and maybe 5 inches in diameter.

We each ate about a third of our food, and then had it for lunch yesterday.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Just because

I make no excuses. This is just funny.


Last week my Yahoo account got hacked. Somehow, everyone in my Yahoo contacts list received spam sent from my account. After getting a call from Mom, I checked the account, and found the offending e-mail in my Draft folder.

So I immediately changed my password, and began doing that for all of my accounts. Granted it used to be just a single uncapitalized word, but it is still disturbing to have it happen.

So now I'm in that limbo of no remembering which accounts I have changed the password for. I log on somewhere, or try to, and find out if its the old weak, or new strong password.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Results of Saturday

Well, my mom is taking off on her blog.

And she even gave me credit in her e-mail to everyone:

In my old age, I have started writing. I asked son Erik to read some of my writing and see if it was worth pursuing. He deemed it worthy enough to keep trying. And Erik suggested that I blog in order help me write. I said," I don't know how to set up a blog." Ten minutes later he had me set up. Erik is a good teacher, he made me do the set up.

Below is the link to I have no endings. Keep the link in your favorites and check in every now and then. I won't write daily, but will write more than once a week. If you feel it is worthy, pass the link on to someone. Feel free to make comments.

Janet A

So I encourage you to read her stuff. She has some good stories, and more than just a blog might come from this. Mom's becoming "mobbed up" in the publishing world.

My only qualm is that there are things my parents don't know about: The tattoos, the trip to Key West, the iPod, the car stereo, to name a few. I have to post with my AOL ID. So feel free to post Comments on hers and even become a Follower.

Just don't tell her about this place.

Multiple Reading

As you can see, I'm reading Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. But I've been wanting to listen to rock music during my workout, and I just can't read fantasy with music with words.

So at the gym I'm reading Jumper by Steven Gould.

He is not to be confused with Steven Jay Gould.

I think I've said before how much better the book Jumper is than the movie.

But the main influence for reading Jumper again is the hope of playing our GURPS Psionics group again. We've got a few different players, but the background is as detailed as the Fantasy world. And my character is based on Davey in Jumper with the added bonus of teleporting objects to and from himself. And against people with a touch.

I'm very excited about the possibilities of what the other players might create.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Dad's Birthday

Friday was my dad's birthday, but I was working, and he was working and had other things to do Friday night. So Saturday I spent the day with him.

The day started at the glass study in Berkeley. I got there at 10:00 and we chatted while I watched him sculpt glass. He made hearts, and one flame sculpture, and I got to help with two gazing balls he made. They actually have my breath in them. He doesn't have the gazing balls on his site yet, but do go check it out. The hearts are very affordable, and make nice gifts. And the sculptures are great too, but beyond my price range.

For lunch I went on a quest for Long John Silver's. I had done a search on their web page, and it listed one in Richmond on San Pablo Avenue. I took down the address and put it in my navigator ready to go. I tried to call the store to see if they were still in business, but all I got when I called was a fax tone. So with low expectations, I set out.

It turns out that the shop does exist, is a KFC/LJS. and is right off of Interstate 80 on San Pablo. So I got the food, and we enjoyed LJS for lunch. Dad also invited me over for supper with him and mom.

Dinner was great with T-bone steaks, ceasar salad, and sauteed mushrooms and snow pea pods. And an incredible 1984 Rodney Strong. Apparently their wine in the 80s was really good. Now? Not so much.

And I did the Son thing, and helped out around the house. But in my way.

Dad and I tired to fix the panes on his greenhouse, but we couldn't get them in the tracks, so he's going to do some little work inside and caulk them closed.

I did get his e-mail working. When they switched over to AT&T DSL, dad chose to merge the primary account with his Yahoo account. You can do this because essentially AT&T e-mail is hosted on Yahoo. But this caused a big headache getting the passwords, protocols and such all right. Now, it's straightened out, and should work fine.

And then after dinner, I did a little first look and editing for some writing mom is tyring to get into. She volunteers at the Alameda County Clerk's office and marries people on Monday and Wednesday afternoons. She had such great experiences that her friends have talked her into trying to write a column or a book. So she asked me to look it over and see if it was entertaining. I told her I thought it would be if she expended things more, telling whole stories and not just little paragraphs.

And then for practice, I suggested she write a blog.

So until 11:00 last night, I helped her set up her blog. Once she starts posting, I'll have to throw a link up to it.

Now sometime today I have to find time to run and get my comic books.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


I had a wonderful surprise today when I got home:

One lone silicone ear pad for my headphones.

Apparently Jennifer had found it somewhere in the house.

It saves me $6.99 at Bose.


Well, I found my extra headphone pads stash.

Music is much better than the silence of the office.

And through my random rotation I got to hear the main theme to the old "Alien Nation" television show. Great song.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Teh Suck

To add to today's lameness:

  • Only John has responded to the RPG e-mail interim session for the Warders.
  • I've lost one silicone ear cover for my headphones. Luckily Jennifer and I have the same headphones, and she has smaller ears than me. Now I just have to remember where I put the spares.

On the good side, I made chili last night, and that's what's for dinner tonight.


This is another one of those days that I wish I had the excuse of hard living to explain how I feel.

I was relatively good last night, and didn't stay up too late. And all I got to show for it was a nightmare, a compelling dream I can't remember, and a face that looks like I didn't sleep at all.

So sometime around 3:00 AM, I had a dream where ants/spiders/tiny spheroidal creatures were slowly being pumped into my bedroom onto my night stand. And it was real enough, disturbing enough, and/or effective enough that I woke up looking for them, and trying to stop them. I turned on the light, slapping at every stray hair touching my back, arms, or legs, and worked to convince myself that it was just a dream.

At least the light didn't wake my up too much, and did not wake up the cat. So I went back to sleep.

Pom did decide she wanted to go out ten minutes before the alarm went off, and I was deep in another dream. Deep enough that her scratching at the closet door (the outside, she doesn't sleep in the closet) became incorporated into the dream. I shuffled around, let her out, and then spent the next half an hour, in between alarm snoozes, trying to remember what the dream had been about.

No fucking idea.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

It's been a while...

And not much is going on.

Last Saturday, I played in my first Call of Cthulhu game at my local Canadian's non-embassy house in Alameda.

I had a great time, and got to play with two guys I've known for a few years, but never been at the same table with.

We've spent the time since the game describing the trailer for the film the movie could be made into. The trailer idea started from a double 9-mm attack the characters' security head made, and has gone from there. And I keep think it would be really cool to actually make the movie.

And then John recently brought up our old GURPS Psionics campaign. We both miss it a lot. I'm sure he misses the complex plots. I miss playing a global teleporter.

My character was based on Davey from Jumper (the book not the movie) by Steven Gould, but with the ability to teleport others by touching them as well.

If we can get the Steve and Scott re-interested, and Jason and Barton pre-interested, then we may do some of those games as a break from Fantasy.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

More Time Wasting

So I have already posted this wonderful site.

But I must share my latest addiction by the same creator: Stick Ranger

It appeals to my inner gamemaster.

Dying Foods

After the last post, I thought I'd go looking for other LJS stores.

So there's one in Richmond on San Pablo; I'll go looking for it. Also there is one in Pittsburg/Antioch, so sometime I'm over that way I'll look for it as well. Maybe there is hope.

There are other foods that I must do without living in California.

Steak 'n' Shake. Skyline Chili/GoldStar Chili. White Castle (and the ones in the freezer section don't count).

Then there are the discontinued foods (at least around here): SoBe Dragon, Post Alpha-Bits cereal, Pepperidge Farm Seasoned Croutons, and my long lost Old San Francisco Style Sourdough Snacks.

That's what I want my time machine for: to be able to go back and buy up as much of each of these that I can get my hands on.

I am Sadness

Yesterday was a bit rough. It's budgeting time at ETIC for our XOM client. The downside (yes, a downside to looking into the future and guessing how much money you'll need for the upcoming year) is that we have to match the mid-year forecast we gave good ol' XOM. So we're trying to budget for the new year and trying to match the money we guessed we would need in '09 back in May of '08.

And there is so much that has happened in five months that it just can't be done.

Then I had some changes I needed to make for a report that is being over-reviewed by yet another person at the office.

On top of this, the office is being painted outside. So we've been power-washed thoroughly enough to make all of the windows leak. The windows have been covered with paper for three days now. All of the windows. And the leaks that the power-washing showed us are allowing the paint fumes to come in and be trapped inside.

But none of this is what really makes me sad.

After yesterday's roughness, Jennifer and I had a plan. She had been able to spend the day at the beach. He beach of choice is just south of Stinson Beach near Red Rock. She called to suggest that we meet in Pinole (about halfway), and enjoy our favorite fried past time: Long John Silver's (Seafood Shoppe). She said she would call when Magellan said she was 30 minutes away, but I got impatient, and drove to be there first.

And it was closed.

Not closed early, but closed shut down. The lights were out, and there were poorly handwritten signs (in ball point pen) saying "Sorry We Closed". Now I don't know if it was poor English, or bad English, but, I was bummed. I thought I would call the number and see if there was a reason given on an answering machine for loyal, living customers, but all I got was the three rising tones, and the wonderful female voice saying that the number was disconnected.

And so I slid into depression.

I called Jennifer, and told her the news, she was still a ways out. I drove home, and sank into a funk. When Jennifer got home, we went to Fuddruckers (and what ever happened to the apostrophe?) in the Willows Shopping Centre. Afterwards we watched "Casino Royale", or at least I did. Jennifer had seen some of it at a hotel, and didn't want to sit through it all.

Overall, it was a bit of a letdown for the whole day.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I meant to post this on Friday, but I forgot with other posts and pesky things like work and musicals...

Twenty-two years ago on Friday, was my first kiss.

The musical I went to see Friday, "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" was about the many stages of relationships in the 21st Century. It was really funny, and were it not for the brake problems (metal grinding) my car began suffering on the way home from said play, Jennifer and I would probably get season's tickets to the Campbell Theater.

But anyway, the musical reminded me of that day in high school. Back when I was elated to be kissing a kill on the cheek or forehead, and the "trick" played on me when she kissed me on the kips instead. I still don't know how I got home that day. Driving from Lafayette to Concord, making it home just before dinner, and reliving the kiss the whole way home.

Another of the songs in the musical was sung by a husband looking at his wife of thirty years. He sings of how science says that love is temporary and eventually fades, and yet he can't understand then why he still loves his wife so much. The poignant part is that its a morning-at-the-kitchen-table-over-coffee-and-newspaper kind of moment. They're both in robes, and she's got the curler hood up. He ends the song simply looking at her, and she notices and says, "What?" He says, "Nothing," and the spotlights fade out. It was very moving.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Last night I watched a little indy movie called "Primer".

Let me start off by saying that if "Donnie Darko" confused you, and "Southland Tales" left you looking like the RCA Victor dog, then this movie is not for you.

I usually pride myself on being able to follow time travel movies pretty well, but this one finished with a "Huh?" rather than an "Oh."

And the "Huh?" comes more from a why? As in, what's the point of the movie?

It's followable, but it does not leave you satisfied at the end.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Still Juggling...

I just finished Juggler of Worlds, and I'm a bit frustrated. Yes it closes the story of the fleet of worlds and Sigmund Ausfaller and the puppeteers until Ringworld.

But it didn't answer my questions.


On to The Charnel Prince by Greg Keyes.

Reading and such

I finished Greg Keyes' Briar King recently. It's a good read once you get used to jumping around to different characters a lot. I understand they were necessary, but I would just be getting interested in the character and what was happening, and there would be a mini-cliffhanger, and he would jump to a different character. I've got the next book set aside from John. I'll get to it soon, but...

Right now, I'm reading Juggler of Worlds by Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner. They co-wrote Fleet of Worlds which was pretty good, but this one is much more enjoyable. It's kind of a what was going on in the background during the Beowulf Schaeffer stories (as best compiled in Crashlander). And what was happening on Earth during Fleet of Worlds. I would have almost liked to have seen Fleet and Juggler as one book. It could have been done, if been a bit massive of a book.

And now a geeky pondering: One thing that I have wondered since reading Crashlander is what happened to Beowulf, Carlos Wu, and the rest of the family on the earth-like planet of Home. I did a tiny bit of research last night since there are years given in Juggler of Worlds, and I compared them to a timeline given in Protector.

Protector is kind of an unofficial prequel to Ringworld, and describes the Pak race and their connection to Earth. Towards the end, the Brennan-Monster and his human assistant are traveling to Home. The timeline the assistant creates begins with time a few hundred years before events in Juggler, but dates get distorted as they are traveling at relativistic speeds. He even mentions the need to reset calendars when they reach Home.

We know that Louis Wu, son of Carlos, and primary protagonist in Ringworld and its sequels, survives and travels, but what of the rest? Do they live long enough to become Protectors? Does Carlos Wu become a genius Protector? This site has a timeline which incorporates dates from Known Space up through Fleet of Worlds. We'll have to see.

Maybe it will say in this book, or maybe there will be future revelations in other books. I have to admit my joy of the continuing tales from Known Space. I just hope Mr. Niven keeps writing.

I feel drained

Yesterday morning I got up an hour early, for our company's monthly safety meeting.

I went out to the car, and while I was able to unlock the car electronically, that probably used up the remaining energy in the battery. It didn't even click when I turned the key. I had two lights on the dash and that was it.

So I sheepishly woke Jennifer up, and we tried to jump start it. Nothing.

So I used her old car, drove to work, and pondered what to do. She had been going to check on getting it fixed for me, but work came up for her, and so it landed back on me.

I did the manly thing. Honestly, I did. I went to Kragen. I bought a battery, and I replaced the old one all by myself. Except for one call to our Health and Safety guy at ETIC for a recommendation on which terminal connector to remove first.

The final say: remove negative first, then positive. After replacing the battery connect positive first and then negative.

All is better now. I just have to try to not feel negative (I swear, no pun intended) about the whole event.

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