Thursday, July 31, 2008

Trippy Music Thoughts

Jennifer is out tonight, so I'm doing my typical, manly activity: painting RPG miniatures (actually the ones I'm painting are from here). Hey, I said it was my manly activity.

While I was painting, "Back in N.Y.C." from Genesis' double album The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway came on the iPod. And suddenly a chain of thoughts cascaded through my brain like a flash-forward.

Millions of children (of various ages) saw "WALL-E". Of those a fraction have somehow acquired the soundtrack, and enjoyed the song from the credits enough to wonder, "Who is this Peter Gabriel guy?" Now of those some (probably more than I would expect with iTunes and the like) will get some of his music, and really enjoy it. Maybe they'll work their way back to his early solo work. And some of those might even go so far back as to check out old Genesis stuff.

It was at that point that I became jealous of all of those kids, because they will be "discovering" all of this old music. And yes, Ms. Medicine Balls it is old.

But hey, that's cool. I just turn 13 for the third time.

I Watch the Watchmen

I'm getting worked up for the "Watchmen" movie. In their latest Smodcast (Smodcast 58), Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier chatted for a bit about the "Watchmen" trailer shown before "The Dark Knight". Most of the scenes in the trailer are like live-action scenes straight from the book. And recently there have been promo picture ads for the movie released that have recreated the old ads for the comic. I am feeling hopeful.

Additionally, I wanted to share that Warner Brothers has made what they are calling a Motion Comic. It is a really interesting way of doing it, but think of it as being a combination of a cartoon and an audiobook.

So you can go to iTunes and either enter "Watchmen" in the search box, or you can go: TV Shows/Sci-Fi & Fantasy/Watchmen/Watchmen Motion Comics.

Some of the movements bring to mind the old Spider-Man cartoons. The ones from when I was a kid, with the cool theme song, and the really bad plots.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Earth to boring guy...

I had such high hopes for How the States Got Their Shapes. But it was repetitive and boring.

Mark Stein did it alphabetically. Now, on the short thought side, that might seem better. Cover each state, and make it easier for reference. And that's how it ended up reading: like a reference book.

The long thought would be to show a map with changes to the country and perhaps zoom in on the specific affected state and do the book chronologically.

It became a struggle to read through each state. I finally stopped reading with about ten states to go.

The only reason I persevered as long as I did is because I have nothing else to read except my comics. And that's just at home. Now I need something for work and the gym.

Le sigh!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday and Sunday

I forgot to say that Saturday Jennifer and I went to Livermore for my comics, then we had lunch at Ming's in Pleasant Hill, and then came home to do nothing until we got ready for going out. And I crashed hard. It was worse than a sugar and caffeine crash. We think it was coming down after the stress of the coworker quitting as well as some around the coming night.

Sunday, we didn't do much. We went looking for diner food for breakfast, but we were late getting out and everything was full. So around 2:00 we went to La Piñata again. I had a new treat: Tlalapeño. This was a spicy chicken soup served with half an avocado sliced nicely and a side of Mexican rice. Added to two Smokey Margaritas, and followed up with my standby dessert: two scoops of chocolate chip ice cream on a sugar cone, the afternoon was wonderful.

My standby dessert is best in Concord's Todos Santos Plaza, because the local Baskin-Robbins there was $1 scoops, all-day, everyday. It's perfect. They did it first to drive out Coldstone Creamery from the Plaza, and now they do it and sell insane amounts of ice cream.

I was very happy.

Birthday - Part Three

And so the birthday finally comes to an end with Saturday's dinner and drinks with Jennifer and John.

We all took BART in, but Jennifer and I had the joy of waiting in the East Bay sun, dressed for San Francisco, for thirty minutes. First the northbound platform was out of service, so trains were coming on the other platform in both directions. Then the train came, we got on, and we told to get off since it was having trouble and was going out of service. But the train finally came, and we rode off to the City.

The ride was fun, I watched a movie on my iPod, and Jennifer listened to music.

We walked up to Scala's Bistro which was about half a block up Powell past Union Square. Jennifer trooped up in heels and said no more walking once we got to the restaurant.

John got me two really cool gifts (as well as paying for dinner for both Jennifer and me). First a great t-shirt, and then an even cooler necklace.

Then we went to Bourbon and Branch. That was amazing. The speakeasy atmosphere, and the drinks, and the decorations. That was a fun time.

It was a really fun evening with my wife and my best friend. I hope it's not long before we go back to B&B.

Workplace activities

Thursday afternoon at 4:45, I had the one coworker that I supervise come to me and say that on Friday he was intending to submit his resignation. And that on top of that he would not be staying for two weeks, but would have Friday be his last day.

It came as a bit of a surprise, but knowing the meeting he had had with another project manager and the program manager, I could understand his stress. The primary thought was that he was taking too long on reports.

The thing to realize is that all of us get that talk. I was given it for Geohazards reports while I was at Kleinfelder. The program manager told me that he got that talk, and another of the project managers told us he got that talk. We all get that talk. It's just that when you're a staff-level geologist, you don't consider too much how much time you're taking for a report, and how that might affect the projects budget.

And the thing to remember is how small this business is. Not giving two weeks' notice is something that will get shared about a former employee.

But now, the coworker is gone, and we're picking things up. August just got rel busy with work. We get to do that tank dig in Stockton, as well as a well box repair in Pleasanton, and then back to Stockton for some drilling. Add to this the XOM All Consultants Meeting in Irvine (Ahhhh, scenic Irvine) on August 12 and 13.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Birthday - The Album

All right so in this album you can see:

The art glass my dad made as well as the two pieces I have it grouped with right now.

The sculpture.

The orchid. We're leaving it in Jennifer's sitting room right now to see how it does. It should get enough light there, and indirectly, but we'll see how it does. And how our watering it goes.

Birthday - Part Two

Last night Jennifer and I went over to my parents' house to celebrate my birthday with them. We had a glass of wine, and then they had me open my gifts.

Dad gave me a piece of glass that he had created a few months ago, that I have been complimenting him on ever since I saw it. Once I find a place for it, I'll take a picture of it. It isn't the typical transparent colors he does, and the colors are just cool. I'm not sure how Jennifer feels about it, but it really drew me the moment I saw it.

Then there was another gift that is a sculpture from Africa, carved from serpentine. But it's a yellow-brown serpentine. It's called "Lovers" and is really cool as well. I'll get a picture of it up too.

And third, they gave me an orchid. I'll bring it in to work where it will get some sunlight, since the condo we rent is pretty dark. The orchid is eternally like the one above. I'll take a picture of the one I got and post that too.
Then they took us to Somerset in Oakland, outside of the Rockridge neighborhood. We all had a wonderful time with four different drinks (I had Hangar 1 Mandarin Blossom vodka, neat), four different appetizers (steamed mussels for me), and four different entrees (my choice: paella). And everyone was happy and full.

Monday, July 21, 2008

My Music Collection

Also this weekend (Friday night), I reorganized my MP3s. I decided that there was no need to keep files separated by where I got them. So now they're just broken down by genre. Kind of.

But I began to think about how people used to resort their music collections in the past. Like in the movie "High Fidelity". Like when I used to have cassette, when I bought a new one, I had to take out all the ones behind it and move them over one space to make room. CDs were a little easier when I had them on a rack, you just slid them over. However, Jennifer didn't like the look of the racks, so we go books. And so it was back to either leaving room, or taking out the ones you needed to move.

MP3s are different. You can resort them with the click of the mouse on the category header. So instead I had to move some folders around.

And so iTunes, of course had to require everything. On my and Jennifer's computers.

Birthday - Part One

Sunday was my birthday, and Jennifer and I had a full and fun day.

We started it off with seeing "The Dark Knight" in Dublin at 9:00 because Pleasant Hill wasn't showing it until noon.

Then we went to St. George Distilleries, better known as Hangar One. There we tasted Eau de Vie, Vodka, Liqueurs, and Absinthe. And got to tour the distillery. It was fun, and the vodka was good, but absinthe is nasty stuff. My tongue was coated and... bleh!

Afterwards we went to Everett & Jones in Alameda, and had some wonderful barbecue.

Then we went home and took a nap.

After the nap, we finished the day with a trip to Coldstone for birthday ice cream, and came home and watch three episodes of "Freaks and Geeks".

Birthday - the Teaser

See, this is what good friends do.

Now, if I just had some more famous friends...

I'm looking at you Sorrell.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

A Triumph!

I have finished Portal.

Or as it turns out the basic levels. Now I'm on to the advanced levels.

I have learned that the key to Portal success is save early and often. I saved after each sphere was destroyed, and then saved after breaking the angry sphere free, and then before creating the portal over the incinerator (since for some reason I kept having trouble putting the portal directly over the incinerator.

I still hate timed levels though. Turning down the music down help though.

Now I can devote more time to other things. Like SimCity Societies.

Friday, July 18, 2008

The Wonders of Wor

Today for lunch I had a medium wor won ton soup at my favorite Chinese restaurant for such things: China Garden in Pleasant Hill. I have now tried the won ton soup in all the Chinese restaurants I frequent, and this one is still the best. The broth is good, it's full of meat (even named meat), and the won ton dumplings are the best.

The meat in the dumpling is not over flavored, and the noodle is sturdy, but not starchy.

And then of course there's the tea.

Of course after all this fluid I do kind of slosh when I walk. And a big bowl of soup and nearly all of a pot of tea (Debbie and Nicole had less than a cup each), I think my internal body temperature is approaching 100 degrees.

And I say 100 degrees because I happen to have an average temperature of 99. Jennifer and I were wondering one day why she's always cold and I'm always hot. Okay, sure she's female and I'm male, but beyond that.

So we took our temperatures, and I mine registered 99. Now, yes it fluctuates, and maybe I'm actually at 98.8, but 99 is close enough. Jennifer, on the other hand, tends to hover around 96.8. No, that's not a typo, she is actually 1.8 degrees below normal.

So between us we have about 2 degrees difference in body temperature. No wonder, I tend to walk around in the winter only in boxer shorts with the thermostat at 69, and she still uses her electric blanket in the summer with the thermostat at 75.

At least the air conditioner at the office is strong. I think I may have finally stopped sweating.

Sadly orange juice cannot teleport

Okay, I was reluctant at first. I have no idea why, perhaps I feared it would end up too much like a Buffy thing.

But I put my trust in the man who brought us Firefly/Serenity and continues to let Summer Glau dance, and have now watched the first two parts of Joss Whedon's Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog.

Now GURPS Grandmaster Steve Jackson only felt it worth a grin in his review this morning.

He must have missed some of the lines.

"The status is definitely not quo."

"What a crazy random happenstance."

"All the birds are singing that you're gonna die."

So go and watch. And then go back tomorrow and watch the conclusion.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Best quote of the Book

The Gauls are the ancestors of today's Frenchmen, as evidenced by their haughty imperious manner, and their total surrender to the Romans.

C. H. Dalton - A Practical Guide to Racism

Sunday, July 13, 2008

More Completed Books and Recommendations

Okay, I finished Zorro by Isabell Allende Thursday night. Okay, Friday morning, but still... I was glad for the events in Alta California, but it still left me wanting. Now, I enjoyed the narrative, but it just lacked excitement.

I've just now completed Stop Dressing Your Six-Year-Old Like a Skank by Celia Rivenbark. It had some really funny moments, but at the same time, I found parts of it lacking.

So I'll be starting a new book tomorrow by C. H. Dalton entitled A Practical Guide to Racism. It's a recommendations from Jennifer even though she hasn't read it yet, but I've got good feelings about it.

But for a really good series of books, I heartily recommend Christopher Moore. His early (Island of the Sequined Love Nun, and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove) books have some trouble, but after that he's off to the races. Practical Demon Keeping and Blood Sucking Fiends, are really great. My two favorites of his are Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal, and A Dirty Job. They're incredibly funny.

Wondrous Weekend

I had a great weekend.

Friday night Jennifer and I bounced around the house doing various things. There wasn't really anything outstanding, but it was just an easy segue out of the work week.

Saturday, I hosted this month's GURPS game. And I had an amazing time. I had most of the setting completed, but the player input as well as the questions asked by them fleshed out the blighted forest I was guiding them through into something truly sinister. Sometimes being the Gamemaster is a chore. You have to immerse the players into the world, and come up with an answer for any question they may ask. Or at least try.

Sometimes that is easy, or times it's pretty hard. John wrote me a very complimentary e-mail, and it carried me through Sunday. We both feel it was one the best games I've run. But again, the thought the others put into the session was a big help.

And the best part is that the blighted forest they went into was small and less than a week old. There is a much larger forest that has been blighted for around two years (game time). This is going to be fun.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The scariest words in the English language

The other day I was in with Bryan talking, and one of the company's principals looked in and waited for a lull in the conversation. Then, looking at me, he says, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

I had an immediate flashback to five years ago, when I was let go from Kleinfelder.

Don Gray the geotechnical manager (and prick-and-a-half that he is) comes to my cubical, and says, "Can I talk to you for a minute?"

I said yes, and then he walks away to his office. I get up, and walk in to see him sitting down and the head of Human Resources. That was when I was told that they were terminating me.

Fortunately all Doug wanted was to make me the equivalent of Hall Monitor for the East Wing of our office. We're going to be hosting a client in one of the offices near mine, and he doesn't want anyone discussing privileged things, or client disparaging comments in the hall.

Afterwards, I told Bryan that I want a sash for my new position.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Buckle your swash

I think the thing that bothers me about Zorro is that I'm nearly done with the book, and it's just now getting back to Alta California. It's more of a prequel that a story about the black clad protector of the people (or pipple, if you prefer).

I'm hoping for some good action in the last section, but I'm not holding my breath.

Of course I'm going to have to find something new to read very soon...

Monday, July 07, 2008

Accomplishments over the Holiday

Thursday and Friday last week, I was (at least for dinner) ovo-lacto vegetarian. Thursday Jennifer made a great pasta for me with mushrooms and asparagus. It would have been vegan if not for the asiago cheese on it. Then for the Fourth, I had two ears of corn and two artichokes, each as big as two of my fists. Again nearly vegan, but they both must have butter. That's a lot of fiber.

Friday night, instead of watching fireworks, Jennifer and I watched the 1972 movie production of the musical "1776". It's a fun show, but the cool part were the stars in the movie. John Adams was played by William Daniels from "St. Elsewhere" and also the voice of KITT in "Knight Rider". Thomas Jefferson was Ken Howard who went on to be the star of "The White Shadow". Martha Jefferson was Blythe Danner, Gwyneth Paltrow's mother. Lewis Morris the Representative from New York was played by Howard Caine who was Major Hochstetter in "Hogan's Heroes".

Saturday was a free-for-all of fun as we spent the day with our friends Steve and Lisa in Fairfield. But not before finally putting down the deposit for my tattoos. I'll be getting the line work, and black and white done on August 7 at 6:00 in Vacaville (yes, 6 hours past noon on the seventh day of the eighth month, or was I the only one that noticed that?). Then we'll set up a date to go back and get the color done after the two bits have healed up.

Sunday we went looking at houses for possible purchase. Not much luck in the price range, but we'll see. It's always a good education going out and looking. Then we went by Black Diamond Games, and Jennifer chose a lead miniature to paint. The one she got can be seen here. She decided that since she sees so well close up that she'd like to try her hand at painting tiny pieces of metal with acrylics. She opened the packaging, and then I glued the washed on the base, and I'll prime the figure with gray tonight.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Simple Things

7-Eleven has a new cool product: the aluminum Slurpee straw. They are 28.5 centimeters long (just under 11.25 inches), 1 centimeter in diameter, and are extremely cool. For 99 cents, I got my first one (yes, yes, in a minute). I got a red one for my red, white, and blue Extreme Gulp cup.

If you've ever seen products by Alumicolor, then you can get an idea of what the straws are like. The diameter is slightly larger than the normal straws. And after the first one, and telling Jennifer about them, I had to get the rest.

There are six colors total which we have distributed throughout our cups. Red (my Extreme Gulp at work); Orange (my old Extreme Gulp mug that I use for water at work); Blue (my Ultimate Gulp at home); Black (for Jennifer's Extreme Gulp mug); and two more.

Jennifer took the purple one for her morning Isagenix shakes. And the green one we have in my car's glove box. The point of this is that inevitably Jennifer gets a bottled drink while we're out, and cannot drink it while we're driving due to stops and starts, and such things. I had been swiping straws from Starbucks, but now with these six, we aren't going to need any more plastic ones.

And my favorite bonus with them is that soda in the mug now tastes like it's coming out of a can.


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