Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Weekend of FIL

It was a good weekend, and from his enjoyment, my FIL promises equal hospitality at Christmas.

I can hope that his word will help with my MIL.

Friday night we cooked at home. Saturday we got up and went to the Renaissance Faire in Casa de Fruta. That was fun, and his first experience with a Faire. Jennifer and I are deciding if we're going back this weekend.

Sunday he flew back to Portland, and Jennifer and I had a peaceful evening watching football.

I'm just hoping Jennifer gets her computer fixed soon. That power cord issue makes it nearly impossible to use it, and she shares on mine.

I don't mind, but we both chafe at sharing a computer.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Paternal in Law

Tonight, Jennifer's dad is coming in tonight. We don't really have much of a plan for what we're doing while he's here.

Tomorrow I think Jennifer is going to the City with him. Then Saturday we may go to the Renaissance Faire in Casa de Fruta, or maybe somewhere else.

Then he's leaves Sunday, and I sit with our friendly computer repair person hoping he can fix Jennifer's issues with her laptop.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Many are Called, Few are Chosen

I'm free!

After completing the questioning of the last six alternate jurors, the counsels approached the bench, and agreed to release two members in the box. Those were replaced from the general pool, and then the defense began alternating between those they wished to dismiss.

They released two in the box, and the woman before me, and the I were in the box. And no sooner had I sat down than the prosecutor let me go.

I don't know what it was that I said, but I have a guess.

The case had to do with a home robbery in San Pablo with a 9-mm semi-automatic handgun. He was charged with three different counts of this.

I think because I mentioned John's recent experiences with similar things in his area, that I was released.

Fine by me.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Duty - Day One

I have been recruited by the Star League to defend the frontier against Xur and the Ko-Dan armada...

Er, no.

I have been selected by a random computer to be 8.3% of the force that decides the fate of one individual for a crime he may or may not have committed.


Today I reported for the first time due to a jury summon. I have been summoned many times before, but mostly when I was in either Sacramento or Lexington going to school. And so I didn't have to report. Then I have been summoned once every coupe years since being back but never had to report.

Until now.

Today I sat in a room for two hours in the morning, reading and napping, and then nearly the entire room was called up to begin the jury selection process. There we had the initial charges read to us, and those with hardships were allowed to plead their case.

Those of us without any good reason to get out of the Duty, were freed to go at 10:30 to return at 1:30 for the questioning.

Jennifer came and picked me up so I wouldn't lose my parking spot, then we got lunch, went home, and watched two episodes of "Eureka".

Upon returning we were given numbers. I am Number 14. That means I am second alternate (at present) for the Box of 12. Questioning was performed by the County Prosecutor, and then we had a break, and then questioning was performed by the Defense. They got to me, I answered, and we ran out of time.

So, I go back tomorrow morning for the continuing questioning of the other four alternates. Then the Prosecution and Defense get to dismiss those whom they feel will not be able to perform impartially, or will not perform impartially the direction they wish.

We'll see how it goes.

Yeah, I should have taken a picture of it...

I forgot to tell you about Sunday night.

Jennifer is in reading, and I'm on the computer. Outside the window I hear Pom meow. Pom rarely meows, so I click my tongue a few times at her, and go to let her in.

She comes walking slowly, another odd sign, and I can hear her purring.


While Pom does purr, you usually have to put your head to her chest. And I'm hearing it from over five feet away.

That's when I notice what looks like a long string hanging from her mouth.

Now, she has brought three love presents to us since we've had her.

The first we didn't discover for a while, and by the time we had, the mouse had settled between the openings in the rubber doormat. That took some scrubbing, but we praised her all the same.

This apparently provided encouragement, for the next day I found her in the garage with another mouse rubbing it on her cheeks while she rolled back and forth on the ground. Jennifer held and praised, then took her inside, while I threw the body away.

Gift three was alive. We had just gotten back from Key West and she came slowly into the media room, and dropped something. Which presently began to scamper towards the bookshelves. I quickly dumped my popcorn into Jennifer's bowl, and scooped the thing up in my bowl. Fortunately lizards can't gain purchase on a combination of curved stainless steel, butter, oil, and salt. Pom had been playing with this one too, because some of the tail was missing. This one I released back into the wild of the English Ivy.

Sunday's love gift, was a moue or a rat. I'm not sure, but it was definitely a rodent. I called Jennifer and she held and praised, while I cleaned up again. In the sitting room. And while I got gloves, Jennifer said she saw it move. Death throws, I hope. So I scooped it up with latex gloves and the garbage can lid, where it kept falling onto a pose looking like it was alive. And I carried it to the garbage can. Now the body was probably no more than 3 inches long, but the tail was probably 6 inches.

At this point, I do my best Mr. Burns shudder.

However, the song of the night was "A Mighty Huntress Is Our Pom".

Monday, September 22, 2008

And a late night party

... for us.

So it's still Saturday. I've been running all day, Jennifer's been running elsewhere all day, and now we have the Wedding Celebration in the City. We're already an hour over on the cook-out, which made it harder to go, but I wanted to celebrate with Yuko.

So we made our good-byes and promised to come by Forbidden Island if we had time.

We ran home, got cleaned up, changed,and drove into San Francisco. The journey was quick and painless, and we parked on the street. I had a bit of trouble finding Maiden Lane at first, since neither of us had brought a GPS, so we wandered by memory and walked right to it. And there with flowers and garlands was Otis.

It's a really cool venue, and Yuko and Gony (pronounced like Johnny) had decorated it up nicely. They had food and an open bar. All very good.

My favorite part was the video show of their wedding pictures from when they were in Indonesia for his family, and then their honeymoon in Malaysia.

We stuck around for about an hour, but the sun had drained us from the cook-out, so we made out good-byes again, headed out.

Jennifer was too worn out to go the Forbidden Island, so we went home, and she was out by 10:30.

It was a very nice (and full) Saturday.

Food and Drink and a Show

So Mr. Monkeys is going to be four decade old this coming Thursday. And he threw a cook-out bash at a park near where he lives. There was food and drink aplenty, but he'd asked for further supplies, so I brought steaks and corn on the cob.

I forgot the basil, but still managed to make passable corn on the cob. The steaks I seasoned with black pepper.

Plenty of beer at the party, and Mr. Wilson played Torquemada with the squealing grate over the fire pit. I managed to get away with only singeing the hair on my right wrist.

Other great food was Korean barbecue provided and prepared by an authentic Korean, Costco hamburgers which are always good, chips, salads, and four cakes and two pans of brownies. John says that he's got a kitchen full of leftovers.

The show came from people asking about the tattoo. Some hadn't seen the color, while the Unnamed and Mistress McCampbell didn't know about the tattoos at all. Also one of the oldest people to now have seen my tattoo (since family doesn't even know they exist) is Mackie's MIL, The Colonel.

I got a lot of positive feedback. Always a happy thing from those with blank canvases.

Musica Caliente

I haz a new stereo. My stereo let me show you it.

So with my birthday money from my penitent in-laws (who forgot my birthday) and a little from my own, I bought a new stereo deck for my car. Now I can plug my iPod and play any of my own music there.

Jennifer has been able to do this for a while as she has a tape deck. So she's got a $20 adapter. My adapter cost a little more than that.

The fun part was getting it installed.

We decided to get the deck Friday night, and it ended up being after installer hours. So I went Saturday morning. It opened at 10:00, so I was there at 9:45 ready to go. They opened up, check the stock... They don't have the in-dash install kit. It seems the ones for the 2002-2004 Altimas are out of stock, and Best Buy was in-between suppliers. The installer called a local installer to see if they had the part in stock; they didn't. I said I would be back and ran over to Fry's. I tried calling, but couldn't get anyone.

At Fry's install center, I found out that first, they didn't have a spot available in their schedule until Monday (Best Buy is first come, first served) and that their computer system was down. The guy at that shop pulled out a catalog, and gave me the part number, and said good luck inside. I went inside, and called Circuit City to find out if they had one in case I couldn't find one inside at Fry's. It turned out that both stores had it. I found the unit at Fry's, and went to get in line.

Remember me saying that the computers were down? Fry's, home to techies and electronics geeks everywhere, was having to create hand written receipts on triplicate forms. It took me an hour to get through the line.

Back at Best Buy, I got an estimate, and was told it would be 45 minutes to finish the vehicle ahead of me (luckily just one), and then 45 minutes to an hour to install mine. This will put me right at 1:30 for completion. I have two other events for the day: John's Birthday Cook-out at 3:00 in Albany, buying food for the above, Yuko's Wedding Celebration party at 8:00, and getting a gift for the second above. Plus I hadn't had lunch yet.

Boys, time for a

So to Chipotle for lunch and a much needed beer, then Bed Bath and Beyond for a gift, Rite Aid for a Pepsi, and finally back to Best Buy. I still had about 15 minutes to wait, but they finished early.

So I got the stereo installed, and I love it.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Is it snowing?

Back on my 21st birthday, a good friend who shall remain nameless (but their name sounds like the glowing remains of a fire) gave me a framed drawing of the Beatles. This drawing was in a Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band gift bag.

I very carefully removed the gift from the bag, shaking the plastic, gold-star confetti off of the wrapping, and opened the gift. I looked up to thank her (oops, one hint), and she looked disappointed. She said, "You were supposed to dump the bag out and get confetti everywhere."

I said, "Oh," and dumped the bag-full of confetti over my head. Now while this was my 21st birthday I was still sober at this time, although other friends had doubts.

That night, I had stars stuck to my skin under my shirt, and when I took my shirt off they ended up everywhere in my bedroom as they cascaded out of the folds of my shirt. John and I lived in that apartment for a few more years and there were gold stars there until we moved out. They just kept appearing in the carpet after we would vacuum.

I mention this because this afternoon I had to re-tuck my shirt, and found all these red flakes everywhere.

At least are biodegradable. However I am reminded of the scene in "Gataca" where they sweep the office building for genetic material. Mine's everywhere today.

Is this your finger, my leprous friend?

And this morning I woke up to what looked like a giant-flaked, dandruff explosion in my bed. Except that the predominant color is red.

Jennifer's having issues with touching the peeling skin on my back this time. She's had problems before, but I think with two of them going at once, it's more disturbing.

It is itching quite a bit too. She's blaming me for her sympathy itching. Last night, she whispered in my ear about how horrible the itching must be, and it really intensified. I retaliated by putting fingers to temples and imagined focusing those feelings and throwing them at her. When I motioned the "transference" she said it hit her with an almost physical force.

I said good.

Serves her right.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Other diversions

Are you fascinated by simple things like me?

Then check out this. It's a sand game that is lots of fun. Then go up one level and check out the other stuff. Some of it is fun too.


Woke up this morning and had a look at the tattoos. They both have a bit of a gray cast to them; they're starting to peel. They still haven't completely separated from the skin underneath, but they will likely do that today. In big exploding itches.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Back to Work

Yesterday I stayed home and let my wife rub a healing comfrey root and olive oil blend on my back. This morning things have gone from the tight skin feel of a bad sunburn to the itchy prickling of a healing bad sunburn.

We looked over our schedules and we're booked almost through November already. John has a party, Steve has a party while Jennifer's Dad is in town, Tracy has a party, we're having a party, Jennifer is having a chick party, we've got two games in there (one each month), we want to go to the Renaissance Faire, and suddenly it's Thanksgiving.

And next week I possibly have jury duty.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Pain Stains

I sit before my keyboard this evening with my back slathered in comfrey root and olive oil, wrapped in plastic wrap, wrapped in paper towels, fastened with masking tape. The color is (almost) complete. I sat for three hours (the longest sit for me yet), and got all of the bleeding S done, and then managed to sit through the flames, but just couldn't handle the thought of having the flaming S done in black.

Jennifer, mistress of pain that she is, said that my pupils were very dilated and I should stop. Like I couldn't tell her that just from my own sensations.

The sign shown is posted upstairs at EVT. And I tried man, I tried, but at the end, I know I was sounding like a bitch. I was leaning as far away as possible from Phil and his tattoo gun. Lidocaine is my friend.

So maybe in about a month I'll go back for the flaming S to be done in black. For pictures of everything, you can go here. I am really happy with the work. Amazed really. It's truly impressive.

And last night, at our monthly roleplaying game, I had time to sketch out the version of Kal-El's baby rocket that will be in front of the exploding planet Krypton.

I believe we were about 3 rounds into the continuing combat, when my character failed to resist being turned to ice. And so I was was out of the game for about three hours. Plenty of time to sketch and blend the rockets from John Byrne's reimagining of Superman's origin in 1986, the rocket from Birthright, and a little of my own ideas including the fins from the Eradicator. I'm very happy with it and will finish it up for the next phase. I also showed Phil the cover from an issue of Superman-Batman that has a great image of an exploding Krypton. Once I tie it all together, my entire back should be covered. Eventually.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Evolution of the Soundtrack

It's really hard to think up a way to start a post without beginning with the word "So".

I've been adding to my collection of soundtracks and other music recently. But certainly not through any sort of means that might be considered illegal.

Of course not.

But I have discovered something about older soundtracks. The music is simple. Sometimes very simple. And it's not like it was a sudden shift.

Take for example "Conan the Destroyer" by Basil Poledouris. This sounds like it was recorded for (and in some instances recorded by) a high school, or possibly college concert band. There is really no complexity to it. I can almost picture it being performed by a marching band.

Now remember that this is a sequel. "Conan the Barbarian" also by Poledouris is much more complex.

Maybe it's just the orchestra that recorded it. Or even that is wasn't done by an orchestra. Maybe he didn't write the second one with strings in mind.

But you can even tell the difference in John Williams' works. His work before "Jaws" and "Star Wars" is just not fulfilling.

That's all. I don't really have any solutions, just observations.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Brain Quest

Jennifer and I had pizza last night while we watch three quarters of the Raiders continuing to suck. And we each ate one quarter of the pizza leaving one quarter for each of us for today.

I packed my lunch very carefully, and left it on the corner of the counter to grab as I went out the door.

And I forgot it.

I've been forgetting my lunch since elementary school, but it never ceases to be frustrating.

Guess I'll have wor won ton soup.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Crunchy on the Inside

And this evening's creepy thought: Have you ever looked at an animal moving, and suddenly envisioned just its skeleton moving?

I'm laying on the bed reading before going to sleep, and Pom the Cat walks into the room. She stretches her neck, sniffs at Jennifer's closet, and bats at something inside it. Suddenly I have an overlay of just her skeleton doing that.

It's an odd thing. And it's not the only odd thing I see that way.

I have considered musical instruments and speakers, and imagined seeing the sound waves propagating from them.

I have thought of photons striking the surface of the earth, and all we have built, and transferring bits of their energy in heat from the impact.

I have thought thought about what moving air currents must look like if we could see them. The turbulence and all the miniature tornadoes.

Super vision would be a cool power.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Musical Triumph

I thought I had already posted on this, but apparently I simple shared the news with friends via e-mail.

Jonathon Coulton is funny.

My first experience with him was the song that GlaDOS sings at the end of "Portal". I went looking for more of his stuff, and found quite a bit.

For one year, he did a Podcast called "Thing a Week" where he did a new song each week. Lots of them are good, but he averaged one really great one each quarter.

An a capella version of "We Will Rock You/We are the Champions"
A song from an office zombie "re: Your Brains"
A programmer's lament "Code Monkey"
A great mash-up of the Beatles and Chicago "When I'm 25 or 64"

He has other songs and albums out as well. "IKEA" is a giggle-worthy.

So check it out. "Thing-A-Week" may still be available on iTunes. Just search for Jonathon Coulton.


I've now read my onslaught of Neil Gaiman books. The two graphic novels were good. Fragile Things was really fun. I liked some of the poems, but found them difficult to read. I've never done well with poetry anyway.

The stories were really fun. I truly enjoyed the American Gods novella at the end. Had the book sucked, it would have made the book worthwhile, but with a good book, it was like surprise icing inside a good piece of cake.

Now, I'm back to Larry Niven and N-Space, a collection of short stories and musings by the author.

Then I've still got a pile of comics to read. And miniatures to paint. So much available to distract me; it's a good thing I have nothing else to do...

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Laboring to make Pictures

All right, here are the pictures from the Scottish Games in Pleasanton.

And here are the pictures from the Hornblower cruise.


Labor's End

Monday we finally slept in. We did get some ideas, and Jennifer said I could chose our splurge: a new deck for my car (something to play my iPod), or an iKick.

I was sold on an iKick when Uncrate said it was better than the Bose iPod dock... and was cheaper.

So we went to look at car decks first. Too many choices, and I still wasn't sure, so we went to Fry's where I had seen the iKick on sale.

WE ended up buying two. One for the library, and one for the bedroom. They're awesome, and I cannot recommend them enough.

Sunday on a Hercules Weekend

Sunday began as a flashback of Saturday. Jennifer hadn't seen enough of the events at the Scottish Games on Saturday. We had seen a little of the stone throwing and the highland dancing on Saturday, but she wanted more.

We watched the light hammer throw, the weight over bar for height, and the caber toss. All of those were fun to see.

We sat through a complete set of the Wicked Tinkers (awesome), some of Plad Dogh (fun), and Tempest (lame). Tempest used to be fun, but apparently egos have runaway with the band, and it is nothing like what we remember.

We watched a harpists concert which was neat to watch. And we had some more whisky.

We finished with a trip to get my comics, stopped by Richard's crafts in Livermore, and finally hit an Arby's for dinner.

Saturday's Labors

This was the first day of a three day weekend, and did we sleep in? No, Jennifer and I got up so that we could be at the Pleasanton Scottish Games when they opened. We got to see Cleopatra the golden eagle. I was one of six who named her last year. She is a victim of West Nile Disease, and can only see well between the range of 6 to 8 feet. She is about three years old, and just gorgeous.

We watched the Wicked Tinkers, and then the Sorrellians (Steve, Lisa, Paul, and Gemma) showed up.We wandered a bit, drank some good beer, and then took part in the Whisky tasting. That was fun, but then, Jennifer and I had to go. We had to get cleaned up for a surprise birthday Hornblower cruise for our friend Aileen.

Jennifer and I got dressed up, and once we got to the city were taking pictures in the building between Pier 1 and Pier 3. She had me posing, when through the windows of an office, I saw Aileen and Matt walking. My mouth is just starting to form the "O" in "Oh shit." She didn't see us, and we did our clandestine thing watching them through other windows as they approached the meeting place at Pier 3.

She was very surprised to see us and further surprised as her friends Nicole and Tracy and Bryce arrived in quick succession. The cruise was wonderful, and Matt had taken care of everything. Jennifer and I bought wine for the table, and the food was very good, not just rubber chicken.

The Labor of Friday

Friday, Jennifer and I went to see "Pumpboys and Dinettes" at the Campbell Theater in Martinez. The Campbell Theater is an extension of the Willows Theater, and so far is focusing on ore upbeat stuff. Previously we saw "Altar Boyz" there, which was insanely hilarious.

Pumpboys was set at a road side diner/gas station in the 50s/60s. It was a fun watch, and may have decided us on getting season tickets for the next season.

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