Thursday, December 31, 2009

Books That I Read in 2009

This year I read 93 books. Yes, some of them were children's books, and some were for young adults, but I didn't count the hundreds of comic books that I read, or the webpages or webcomics. Maybe I'll see if I can break 100 books in 2010.

Shades of Grey: A Novel - Jasper Fforde - ****

Under the Dome: A Novel - Stephen King - ***

Who Can Save Us Now?: Brand-New Superheroes and Their Amazing (Short) Stories - ed. Owen King and John McNally - ****

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen - Alan Moore - *****

Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed - Brian Cronin - **

On the Edge - Ilona Andrews - ****

First Lord's Fury - Jim Butcher - *****

Myths, Lies and Downright Stupidity: Get Out the Shovel - Why Everything You Know is Wrong - John Stossel - ***

Her Fearful Symmetry - Audrey Niffenegger - ****

The Gathering Storm - Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson - ****

Dracula the Un-Dead - Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt - ****

Genesis - Bernard Beckett - ***

Unseen Academicals - Terry Pratchett - ****

The Manual of Detection - Jedediah Berry - ****

Warbreaker - Brandon Sanderson - ****

The Time Traveler's Wife - Audrey Niffennegger - *****

The Bromeliad - Terry Pratchett - ****

The Carpet People - Terry Pratchett - ****

Strata - Terry Pratchett - *****

Dark Side of the Sun - Terry Pratchett - *****

Enemies & Allies - Kevin J. Anderson - ****

The Empress of Mars - Kager Baker - ****

Realityland: True-Life Adventures at Walt Disney World - David Koenig - ****

Mars Life - Ben Bova - ***

101 Things You Never Knew About Disneyland: An Unauthorized Look At The Little Touches And Inside Jokes - Kevin Yee and Jason Schultz - **

Mouse Under Glass: Secrets of Disney Animation and Theme Parks - David Koenig - ****

Playboy: 50 Years: The Cartoons - ed. Hugh M. Hefner - ****

The PowerBook - Jeanetter Winterson - ****

More Mouse Tales: A Closer Peek Backstage at Disneyland - David Koenig - ****

Mouse Tales: A Behind-the-Ears Look at Disneyland - David Koenig - ****

Sabotage in the American Workplace - ed. Martin Sprouse - ****

Villains by Necessity - Eve Forward - ****

Life of Pi - Yann Martel - ***

Fool - Christopher Moore - *****

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives - Leonard Mlodinow - **

The Thief Lord - Cornelia Caroline Funke - ***

The Daughter of Time - Josphine Tey - ***

Enchantment - Orson Scott Card - ****

Secrets of the Wee Free Men and Discworld - Carrie Pyykkonen and Linda Washington - *

Magic Strikes - Ilona Andrews - ****

Bone Crossed - Patricia Briggs - ****

The Stars My Destination - Alfred Bester - ***

Turn Coat - Jim Butcher - *****

The Steampunk Trilogy - Paul Di Filippo - ***

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? - Philip K. Dick - ***

Written on the Body - Jeanette Winterson - ****

Adrian Mole and the Weapons of Mass Destruction - Sue Townsend - **

Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years - Sue Townsend - ***

Adrian Mole: The Lost Years - Sue Townsend - ***

Mean Streets ("The Warror") - Jim Butcher - *****

My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding - ed. P.N. Elrod - ****

Mathematicians in Love - Rudy Rucker - ***

Candy Freak - Steve Almond - ***

The Adrian Mole Diaries - Sue Townsend - ***

Many Bloody Returns - ed. Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner - ****

Blood Lite - ed. Kevin J. Anderson - ****

Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen - ****

My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon - ed. P. N. Elrod - ****

Backup - Jim Butcher - ****

Tales of Beedle the Bard - J. K. Rowling - ***

Princeps Fury - Jim Butcher - *****

The Invention of Hugo Cabret - Brian Selznick - ****

White Witch, Black Curse - Kim Harrison - ****

Coils - Roger Zelazny and Fred Saberhagen - ****

Deus Irae - Roger Zelazny and Philip K. Dick - *

Jack of Shadows - Roger Zelazny - ***

A Night in the Lonesome October - Roger Zelazny - *****

Roadmarks - Roger Zelazny - ****

A Dark Traveling - Roger Zelazny - ***

Creatures of Light and Darkness - Roger Zelazny - ****

Doorways in the Sand - Roger Zelazny - ****

Madwand - Roger Zelazny - ***

Changeling - Roger Zelazny - ***

The Changing Land - Roger Zelazny - ****

Dilvish the Damned - Roger Zelazny - ****

Lord of Light - Roger Zelazny - ****

High Voltage Tattoo - Kat von D - ***

Empress - Karen Miller - **

Pete & Pickles - Berkeley Breathed - ***

Inside Inside - James Lipton - **

Living with the Dead - Kelley Armstrong - ***

Jumper - Steven Gould - *****

The Involuntary Human - David Gerrold - ***

The Graveyard Book - Neil Gaiman - *****

Counting Up, Counting Down - Harry Turtledove - ***

Mars Needs Moms! - Berkeley Breathed - ***

Alternate Gerrolds - David Gerrold - ****

Bad Astronomy - Philip C. Plait - ****

The Dangerous Alphabet - Neil Gaiman and Gris Grimly - ****

Opus - Berkeley Breathed - ****

Flawed Dogs - Berkeley Breathed - ***

Edwurd Fudwupper Fibbed Big - Berkeley Breathed - ***

Serenity Found - ed. Jane Espenson - ***

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reading and More Reading

For most of the trip to Las Vegas, I was reading Stephen King's Under the Dome. As I've said before, it's a Llong book coming in at 1,074 pages.

Now I like Stephen King. I enjoyed Night Shift long ago, have read and liked The Shining and Salem's Lot, and Firestarter is a great book of secret psionics.

Under the Dome is a great concept with things anyone can relate to; not just someone from a small town. I'm not from a small town, but I can see how something like what happens in an isolated town could. And most of the story had me riveted, but when I learned the force behind the Dome...

It was like I was in a car with a flat on the Oakland Bay Bridge. I had to keep going because I wasn't able to stop, but I knew I was going to enjoy the journey as much as I had hoped.

Now I can't say that I could come up with a better source for the MacGuffin, but i just didn't like this one.

***

In contrast (and this is only a pun that come to mind after having read a book full of color references), is Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey. I burned through this book starting the night before we left Las Vegas, and got much read in Long Beach, and finished it tonight.

The Thursday Next books are fun with their literary references, and the Nursery Crime series has grown on me, but this new series (intended to be a trilogy as revealed at the end of the book) kept me focused the entire time.

I can remember reading about Utopias in high school (freshman or sophomore year), and even creating one as a project for the class. We had read Jonathon Swift's Gulliver's Travels, and I had also read Aldous Huxley's Brave New World on my own. This book is reminiscent of those creations.

It takes place in a world where Something Had Happened. The capitals are Fforde's. And in the changed world, people cannot see in the dark, and have limited color receptors. You are graded by the amount of color you see. Commonly you see in one color, some see in two, and (as yet) no one sees with any strength in all three. And around this is a strongly restrictive society built.

It's really a fascinating concept, and I look forward to the next two books in the series.

The Return from Las Vegas

Jennifer and I quickly decided we were done with the surreality of Las Vegas yesterday, and eagerly got our taxi to the airport.

Once there we were ready to wait, but the ticket agent said that we could fly standby on an earlier flight, and then connect at Long Beach and get home earlier as well.

We gratefully accepted (even more so when we found how slow the wi-fi was in the airport), and got to Long Beach two hours before originally planned.

And discovered there was only only flight to Oakland. The one we were originally scheduled for.

There was a flight to SFO available an hour before our scheduled flight to Oakland, but flying into SFO was out of the question. So we sat at Long Beach for three hours.

I got a lot of reading done though. And a bit of surfing, but mostly I read.

Today i got caught up on work, and tomorrow will be brief, and then it's another three day weekend. We'll do our New Year's celebration together, and then on new Year's day we've got a farewell party for a coworker, and then on the second, a party with the Sorrellians.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Las Vegas - Days Eight and Nine

Yesterday, Jennifer and I took the tram from Mandalay Bay to the Excalibur. Then we walked over to the MGM Grand, and took the monorail along the backside of the strip to the Sahara. And yes, I was singing the song from the Simpsons the whole trip. In my head.

Then we walked the Strip.

We did a little shopping, and a little eating. We got to the Monte Carlo, and had snacks and drinks in a bar and watched Monday Night Football.

Then we went to see Frank Caliendo. That was a great show. It was one that Jennifer and I had seen on DVD, but the live was so much better with lots of new material.

Then we walked on back to Mandalay Bay, and can say we've walked the Strip in one day.

Today we're packing up, and will hit some final shops, and then fly back home this afternoon.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Reading

One advantage of being down yesterday was that I finally finished all 1,074 pages of Stephen King's Under the Dome.

One thing you can say about King is that the bad guys always get it in the end. It's just that it usually takes so long for their comeuppance that many of the good guys are gone by then.

It was pretty good closure, I just didn't like the mechanism behind the dome itself.

Las Vegas - Days Four (more), Five, Six, and Seven

The past few days have been a lot of a up with a little down.

Christmas Eve, Jennifer and I wandered more of the strip. We went to Paris, and the Bellagio and watched the dancing water fountains outside of the Bellagio. Inside the Bellagio, we saw their conservatory that had snowmen and polar bears made out of carnations, and a Santa sleigh with the reindeer made out of unshelled pecans.

Christmas day, we mostly stayed in. We watched "Surrogates", made our phone calls, and then had afternoon meal at the Verandah in the Four Seasons. It was a wonderful meal, and then we went back to the room, changed and wandered some more. From Mandalay Bay, you can walk through a mall to the Luxor, and then through a series of walkways to the Excalibur. So we never had to go outside.

The day after Christmas we went to see Penn & Teller at the Rio. That was a very fun show, and Jennifer was even able to get herself to stand with Penn after the show for a picture. She was in heels and he was still taller than her. He's 6'7".

Yesterday, we stayed in because we weren't feeling well. Coughing and congestion. Probably the only thing saving us is that the air is so dry it's like natural antihistamine.

We're feeling better today, and will be seeing Frank Caliendo's show tonight at the Monte Carlo.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Las Vegas - Day Three and Four [UPDATED]

It's been a couple of full days.

Wednesday, Jennifer and I had another spa treatment; I got a sugar scrub. Then we relaxed around the spa for a while, then got ready to go out.

Wednesday night we ate at AquaKnox in the Venetian, and saw The Blue Man Group.

The music is great; I have both of their albums, but the show is amazing. It defies description.

Today, we slept in since we did not make it back to to our room until after 2:00 AM. we didn't sleep in much, but it was a slow start.

Today we went to see Popovich's Comedy Pet show. it was fun and light, but done in a very classic clown style.

Then we wandered back to the apartment, and caught the fountain show outside of the Bellagio.

Tomorrow is Christmas, so we'll probably be making phone calls in the morning, but the town is open all day, so we'll see where we go from there.

We have dinner reservations at 4:00, and then after that, who knows.

***

I know I haven't been linking these things, and I'll either go back and make edits, or make a list of links at the end. It's just hard without a mouse. I should have brought it but... [Links have now been added through all posts from Las Vegas.]

The Stephen King book I'm reading (Under the Dome)is 1,074 pages long and took up way too much room. And in no way does it need to be. Sure it's a big book, but it's like the hardback was typeset only to save time for paperback typesetting. all they'll need to do is print it on smaller paper, and maybe bring the page numbers up a bit. I'm enjoying it, but the size is a bit... Off-putting

(Yes, honey, just like your hair in high school. I love you.)

I'm closing in on half way. My favorite section heading so far is "The Is Not As Bad As It Gets".

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Las Vegas - Day Two

And so ends day two.

Jennifer and I were up not incredibly late, and explored the Luxor and Mandalay Bay.

At the Luxor we did the buffet thing, and then tonight we ate at The Burger Bar, and I had buffalo again, and a Sin City amber.

I also got a little spa treatment with a manicure, and then enjoyed sitting around the indoor pool reading.

Tonight, I'm a little down from feeling almost sick. I'm hoping it's just the dry air messing with my mucous membranes.

Tomorrow I've got another spa treatment, and then we're off to see Blue Man Group in the evening. Reviews to follow.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Las Vegas - Day One

An early start (10:10 flight) got us checked into our room by 3:30 this afternoon.

We're staying in Mandalay Bay. And we're on the 34th floor. With a view of the strip. And the peak of the Luxor is hidden by the other wing of the hotel.

Today we walked to New York New York, and ate at the Irish pub there called the Nine Fine Irishmen.

Then we walked up and down the strip and window shopped, and gambled all of $3 in various and assorted slot machines.

We bought our tickets to the shows we want to see, and we've got them spread out nicely over the week.

I'll get some pictures up soon. But now it's time for more relaxation.

Ah, Sunday

And so the final day before vacation passes.

Jennifer ranted at the football games, and I did my comics run.

Plus, I did some reading.

I finished the collection of short stories about people with special abilities. They weren't really superheroes, although some of them were. Some were learning their powers. Others didn't have powers, and interacted with those that did. And some were about heroism in it's more common form. It was a good collection of tales.

Now I've got several books from the library I'll be taking with me on my trip.

I have a new Kage Baker, a new Jasper Fforde, the Star Wars zombie book, and the latest Stephen King.

Once I decide which one I'm reading I'll update the sidebar.

More news from the hotel when i get there.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Meh... and Lights

Last night was unspectacular.

It was good to see mom and dad, and the food was good, but things remain strained. There is tension between them and Jennifer that they won't address without attacking or being overly defensive. They came over afterwards for hot chocolate and chat time. Lots of small talk and not much else.

Typical as I think there has only ever been small talk or big confrontations.

Today was lighter and much more pleasant. Jennifer and I slept in, she ran some errands, and I read. Then we did the Christmas gift opening with her parents over the phone.

And then we had dinner at BJ's and went out in search of Christmas lights.

We found several good ones, but the depressing thing was the over the to one from several years was not on this year. they actually had a sign out apologizing saying that there had been a family emergency that had prevented them setting up the lights.

Tomorrow we watch football, and pack for our trip.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Early Christmas

Tonight Jennifer and I are going to dinner with my parents since we'll be in Las Vegas for Christmas.

Then we're having them over for hot chocolate and presents.

More later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Of Course You Realize, This Means Wor...

I've been having a craving for wor won ton soup for a couple weeks now. However, when I would try to get others to go to the specific restaurant I like for won ton soup, no one wanted to go.

I can understand this as the only thing really good about this specific restaurant is their wor won ton soup.

The dumplings are the best, and the soup is full of shrimp and slices of pork and chicken. It's great.

So today, I went by myself.

I walked in and sat down, and when the waitress brought me the menu, I just asked for a large wor won ton soup. She asked if I wouldn't prefer a medium, because the large is so big, but I said I knew how big it was, and wanted the large. I finished it too alogn with a compelte pot of tea. And it was so good.

I think I'm satisfied for at least the rest of this year.

Monday, December 14, 2009

In Sickness and In Health...

This time it was my turn to care for Jennifer. Neither of us have been really sick in a while, and she finally drew the short straw.

Friday she came home with a very sore ear. We think it got plugged while the barometer dropped, and so she wasn't able to get it equalized. Our temporary fix was a hydrogen peroxide cleaning followed by rubbing alcohol. We did that about 5 times before she got some relief. Then we went to Target and got some drugs for her.

We both slept a lot this weekend, but I mostly remained near her in case she needed anything. I made a lot of tea, and some simple meals that would go down a semi-sore throat easily.

The good part is that one week from today we'll be on our way to Las Vegas for Christmas.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Biggest Movie Ever

This little cut together trailer would be the biggest movie ever made.

It's like the trailer for the most insanely convoluted fan fiction film ever created. The only things missing from it are Star Wars clips.

My Sentiments Exactly

The comic strip below comes from today's Sinfest:
And it pretty much sums up my feelings about "live" (or as I heard yesterday "formerly living, but now dead") Christmas trees. I've been to Oregon in November, and I've seen the trucks with the trees netted and ready to come south. By the time we see them here, they've been cut for over a month.

I grew up with an artificial tree, and it looked good. And they have only improved over the years. The best part are the pre-lit ones. They open almost like a series of umbrellas.

Anyway, it's a great strip.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Cool Birds

Outside of the office break room is a pyracantha bush. Today it was swarming with birds eating the berries.

Robins. Sparrows. And cedar waxwings.

Cedar Waxwings are some amazing looking birds.
They're about 75% the size of a robin, and their colors and texture fascinate me.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Vacation Countdown

It is now about a week and a half before Jennifer and I head out for vacation in Las Vegas.

Not for gambling, but for fun and relaxation. We're looking to do some shows, do some spas, and basically enjoy each other's company.

Christmas in the City of Sin.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Videos

This video is from the movie Serenity, but I'd never noticed a lot of the imagery before.



For example the rising Blue Sun in the beginning is very cool.

However the strawberry bukake at the end is a bit disturbing.

***

This one is more of a catharsis.

Growing up, I was subjected to three kinds of music: oldies, Kenny Rogers, and ABBA.

Lots and lots of ABBA. It was/is one of Dad's favorites. And he was a bit confused at to my preferences because when "Mama Mia!" came around before going really big and having a movie made of it, he got tickets for Jennifer and me too. I went and suffered because Jennifer was interested, but... oh the pain.

Anyway, I detest ABBA music. This cover is awesome.



It makes up for quite a bit.

A friend of mine has a friend who is in Spain for a couple years, and he's looking for an album that Ygnwie Malmsteen supposedly made that is all ABBA covers. If it exists, that would be pretty cool.

Fortune Favors...

Me.

It was looking like I was going to be doing a week of night work in Santa Clara next week.

The site is an active station with a car wash, and the owner was refusing to let us work there during the day claiming it would be too much of a disruption of his business. So he said we could work there at night.

The drillers were willing to do the work, but the cost was almost double standard rate.

Our Exxon project manager nixed the plan today, saying it would be too expensive.

So now we have to tel the regulator what's going on, and we'll see what the next step is.

Will the station owner be forced to let us work during the day? Will Exxon be forced to pay for the night work?

Stay tuned.

Monday, December 07, 2009

It's Time for Another Good Idea-Bad Idea

Good Idea: Staying up late to finish First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher.

Bad Idea: Staying up until 1:30 AM to finish First Lord's Fury by Jim Butcher when you have to get up an hour early for a your company's safety meeting.

The End

Friday, December 04, 2009

It's That Time Again...

Yes, I do mean the end of the year, and not time to consult the Wheel of Morality.

Wheel of Morality,
Turn, Turn, Turn.
Tel us the lesson
That we should learn.

Actually, it's time for training refreshers...

yay.

So today started with a two hour refresher on the Smith Driver Training. This is all about awareness of your surroundings. Then we supervisors had a two and a half hour training on Sexual Harassment...

Awareness!

Sorry, Sexual Harassment Awareness. And it was as bad as it sounds. it could have been an hour, but the phrases were boringly repeated over and over.

It's actually more than sexual harassment awareness, but the other "protected classes" are simply listed while all of the examples are based around sexual harassment.

I started to ponder if "protected classes" included clerics and druids, but no one was around me who would have gotten the joke, so i didn't even get to say it. There is a disturbing lack of table-top RPG geeks in my office.

And then after a brief respite back in my office (isn't that a horrible thing to say?), we returned to the conference room for the monthly staff meeting.

The good part is tomorrow is the company Christmas/Holiday party. Reviews to follow.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

A Bit of Randomness... Or Not

At present, my "Rock" playlist has 6,276 songs in it. I call it "Rock" for simplicity sake, but it does have the occasional instrumental (like the soundtrack to Batman Beyond) and one or two Enya. But otherwise it's a pretty good classification.

And so I've tried various ways of sorting it. Sorting my albums groups too much, and alphabetical sorting gives too many repeats of covers and such. For example I probably have four versions of "Across the Universe".

So I play it on Shuffle.

One must remember that Shuffle does not necessarily mean Random.

Now I'm sure that if it truly randomly selected songs that there is an approximately 1:6000 chance that I would get repeated artists, but there are days it seems to happen way too much. Perhaps there's an algorithm I don't know about, but it still seems odd.

***

And as an aside, may I just say once again how crappy the dictionary is for the Blogger spellcheck?

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Hard Labor Flashback

Today I went home for lunch, and saw a house that was getting some landscape work done. They had a dump truck that had been full of aggregate-base, and they were moving it by filling a wheelbarrow one load at a time.

It reminded me of my time after college before heading off to grad-school, when I helped my dad prepare the pad for the incoming hot tub. Dad had a little Toyota pick-up, and I would go to Navlet's and get a half-yard of pea gravel. I would drive home with the truck nearly fish-tailing it was so loaded down, and park in the driveway. Then I would fill the wheelbarrow with gravel. Then I would the wheelbarrow through the backyard to the bottom of the steps of the two level back yard. Then I would fill 5-gallon buckets with pea gravel and carry them to the upper level and dump them in the compound for the hot tub.

I used to remember how many buckets were in a wheelbarrow, how many wheelbarrows in a truck bed, and how many truck loads it took me to do it.

Needless to say, I don't envy those guys. And today's weather is much nicer than what I was working in.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Book Round-Up

So let's see, where was I?

I finished The Gathering Storm by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson, and I do heartily look forward to the last two books in the series. There were good reveals and some fun action. I could pretty easily tell what parts had been written by Jordan, and what parts were wholly Sanderson. It can make a person wish that Sanderson wrote the entire thing. His style is so much more free and flowing. Jordan's by comparison brings to mind the tone and meter of a Norse epic.

Then I moved on the Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry. Now this book is Niffenegger's second novel, and I could easily add her first, The Time-Traveler's Wife, to my annual rotation. And the first three quarters of this book, I felt the same way about. And then stuff happened. It's about the only way I can say it. Things happen and the train goes hurtling off he tracks and over the hills to have a picnic. Sure its unpredictable, but it just made me say, "Whah?"

And for now, I'm filling my time with fluff. I wait patiently (kind of) for John to get and read, and then lend me Jim Butcher's conclusion to his Codex Alera series First Lord's Fury. I have joyous hope.

***

As another diversion, I've been watching the video's of Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation. I don't play a lot of video games, mostly because I don't have a game console, but for those I do play or even know about, his videos have been hilarious. And then I've watched some others and they've been funny too. Quite worth the time.

I Am Sith

Saturday evening Jennifer took me out to dinner as a thanks for the IKEA assemblage, and we ate entirely too much food at Claim Jumper. Entirely too much. But it was extremely good.

Then after dinner we stopped by Target for a few little things, and I saw something I had to have. Well, actually I got it to show Jennifer, because I didn't know it was available for the PC, and she insisted we buy it.

It being: Star Wars: The Force Unleashed - Ultimate Sith Edition.

I love her.

Once we got home, I did a few things and installed it. And then I sat around for two and a half hours because it was two DVD-ROMs. By the time the install was completed it was after midnight, so I went to bed.

Most of Sunday I played it.

I really enjoy the mixture of force powers,and I'm having to learn all of the movement and attack combos. And yes, while it is very easy to use Force Lightning on everything, I enjoy the lightsaber too much not to use it too. Now I'm just waiting on enough force points to learn Force Grip at a powerful enough level to crush throats.

I'm stilling waiting on the cookies I was promised though...

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Two for IKEA Drift Please

Yes, today we were back at IKEA.

So at home, Jennifer painted, and I assembled furniture. I'm getting very good at it now.

And Jennifer has really gotten better at painting. She did the walls, and did the trim too. All she asked me to do was find the thin spots.

So now the sitting room is essentially done, needing only some sort of window treatment.

So, hopefully pictures of that soon.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Lights On

This evening Jennifer and I went to the Tree Lighting Celebration at Ghiradelli Square in San Francisco.

It was so-so.

Lunch beforehand was good at Fiddler's Green.

Magners, Smithwick's, and Balvenie Doublewood.

Oh, and fish and chips.

Then we wandered around, and stayed for the lighting, and then we came home. The celebration was not that great, and was annoying with a sudden performance by the cast of "Rent" of some songs from "Rent" which is returning to San Francisco in January.

I don't give a damn, and it's not related to Christmas, so go away.

I enjoyed my time with Jennifer, but things could have been run better at the Square.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Frustration

It sickens me that such a place as the Creation Museum exists. It embarrasses me that it exists in my home state of Kentucky.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Industry

Having half of last week off , I really didn't get much done. However, the pile of dirty clothing had piled up, and so that was Sunday's task.

There were a lot of clothes, and you would think it would have taken all day. But, about half of ever load ended up being hung up to dry. That made the dryer load smaller, and so it was usually done by the time the next load was ready to go in.

This activity, in addition to cleaning up the kitchen, inspired Jennifer. She neatened up her area of the office (which I still can't share pictures of because it's not officially done yet), and came across some sewing projects: some loose buttons of mine she insisted she would do, another shirt that needed all new buttons, and a camisole of hers that needed a strap re-attached. As she started, I thought I had better try the shirt on that needed new buttons.

Old, and huge. Once again a shirt I was swimming in. Off to the Goodwill it goes.

And since Jennifer was doing this patch work and I had discovered how big this shirt was, I thought I would attack our bag of sewing repairs.

Of the items in the bag (a brown grocery bag), I only saved four t-shirts. Everything else was too big, or just a bad fit.

Two of the t-shirts I saved were ones that are over 15 years old. I would get rid of them, but they're some of my favorites, and cannot be replaced. They needed darning in one armpit each. One of the others has a V-neck and needed the bottom of the V repaired. The last t-shirt is huge (an XL) that I think I bought that big because it was the only one available. It's been int he bag because after the first wearing the stitching of the hem at the bottom came out. Now I'm going to wash it to see if it will shrink. If so, then we'll take it in to be re-hemmed. Otherwise, off to Goodwill it will go.

It was such a good feeling of accomplishment to get these little projects done. Then, further through my inspiration, Jennifer cleaned house yesterday making home that much more presentable.

Bohemian Rhapsody

Because I love the Muppets and Queen, this is awesome.

Plus it's got Animal and the Electric Mayhem.

Yes, I know it's Dr. Teeth's band.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Upgrades Complete

Fun things happening this week. Jennifer was having major difficulties remaining connected to the Internet wirelessly. It all started with the upgrade to Windows 7. So I started checking drivers. Finally, I updated her BiOS and then reupdated the driver for the WiFi, and lo and behold: connectivity.

A few days ago, I installed the MS Office 2010 beta, and was enjoying it, so while I upgraded my computer to Win7, I installed MSO 2010 on Jennifer's computer too. Now we're one big beta family.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Healing Continues

Thursday was another day for photography. I put on my Goorin Brothers hat, and Jennifer and I went wandering for pictures. We did some at the loft, and then moved on to a couple parks. It was another wonderful experience between the two of us. We really had fun.

Afterwards we drove to Livermore for three weeks' worth of comics. Bob is so great to me. DC Comics is having their big crossover with Blackest Night, and they're giving out replica rings for all of the various Corps. For the Black Lanterns that should probably be Corpses. But Bob had all of them ready for me. All of the ones that are out at least (Violet, Indigo, Blue, Yellow, and Orange). I asked him when the Black ring was coming out, and he said they already had. then he pulled out the bag, and handed me one. Next week Red and Green come out.

Of course I already have to of the Green replicas from the 90s. they're a little higher quality plastic and have a glow in the dark center.

After comics, Jennifer and I went to On the Border in Dublin for margaritas and spicy tacos.

Friday I did nothing.

I read my comics, and Jennifer read the new Audrey Niffenegger. She finished that this morning when she got up, so now I can read it.

Then for fun and dinner, we went to Wendy's. And we took Pom with us. We did the drive-thru, and Pom was funny the whole way. she stayed close to Jennifer trembling a little unless Jennifer was holding her close. Then as we were in the line she prairie-dogged to look out the windows. Finally when we got home, she recognized everything, and felt safer wandering around the car.

We'll have to do that more often.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Artwork

...and in just over two hours, it was done.



When i got to the shop, Phil had this sketch to show me.



I could hardly believe it. The planetary debris looked amazing to me, and the baby rocket was incredible. He took the artwork I had shown him, and incorporated the original rocket from 1938, the John Byrne revamp from 1985, the ship from "Birthright" in the late 90s, and my sketch of my blended ship. Plus he added his own touches.

Today, I got to lay on the massage table for the work. This beats the old dining room table chair we'd used before with a giant stick. My last work with him had been in a massage chair at another shop, but the table was nice; I got to hold on with my hands, head, and feet all at the same time.

After about 60% of it was done, Phil turned turned the table around, and it just happened that the transfer for the ship ended up below he hole for my head. I got to focus on it for the remainder of the work. And the more I looked at it, the more it looked like a baby. The sphere as the head, the top fins as the arms, and the tail fins as the legs kind of spread like baby legs go.


And as I said, it took just a bit over two hours. Showing the pictures to my connoisseur friends, one commented that the detail looks like it would have taken at least four hours.

What can I say? Phil does wonderful work.


So now, I wait for the line work to heal, and then I'll gather the courage and the cash for the coloring. That will be a multi-step process. But I am so pleased with the work.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Under the Needle

This time tomorrow, I should be under the needle progressing the dorsal artwork. I hope.

My artist has been a little unresponsive about the sketch. The last time I was with him, he did a back trace for overall shape, and to allow for his existing work. However, he has repeatedly said he would send a copy of the sketch to me, but I've seen nothing.

The last time I texted him, he said that he had recently moved and things were kind of piled up.

I will continue to hope for the best, and that there will be an incredible drawing compiling my various ideas into something truly beautiful and unique.

I'm still very excited.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Whiskey

Ever since the Bass ale radio commercial, I've had this minor fascination for Ernest Shackleton.

And regular readers will know I like whiskey.

So I am amazed at this news. Who knows what it tastes like, but it'd be cool to try it.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Events

Thursday was relatively uneventful. I went to the gym, and came home and read. I've got 150 pages to go in The Gathering Storm.

I didn't get any further on Friday because I went out to lunch with others. For Friday the 13th, we went to Mr. Lucky's in Pleasant Hill. All in the name of balance. It was pretty good food, very good service, and only a slight discomfort to be the only people under 60 in the restaurant.

Then last night, Jennifer and I too BART into the City, and had dinner at Kuleto's on Powell. First off, we felt like children there because the rest of the clientele was at least 20 years older than us. But the service here was excellent too, and we had hopes for a nice meal; however, apparently they cater to the older crowd because the entire meal was practically seasoningless. Too bland, and too boring.

But fortified with blandness, we went on to Union Square, and had a ball ice skating.






Yeah, as you can tell, we hardly had any fun at all.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sun Contacts

Gizmodo had this link. It points here. And I want these.

I remember when I had my first contacts fitting. The doctor touched a piece of paper to my eye that released a dye into the tears. Suddenly the room became dark and brown. I thought would be awesome: touch the side of your eye, and release this dye that would act like sunglasses.

But now there actually the possibility of photo-changing contacts.

The only drawback is that you they won't help you stare at beautiful women without getting caught.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Shipping Suckage

While we were in Oregon we went to some wineries. WE bought some wine, and planned to minimize shipping by packing them together and shipping them home. I even included a ceramic growler of Rogue I had purchased at Saturday Market.

My father-in-law said he would take care of the shipping through his company.

As we had not yet seen the package, I e-mailed him yesterday. Today he e-mailed me back to say that UPS told him that since the contents were wine the package had been destroyed.

All I can say is: What the Hell? Destroyed?

So I looked up UPS' terms and conditions of service, and it says that you have to be licensed shipper of alcohol to use them.

I am stunned and pissed.

Unexpected Visitor

Last night while Jennifer and I were watching the Steelers-Broncos game, Pom was outside. She then came to the window of the media room and scratched at the sill so be let in.

I went and got her, loved on her, and brought her in to Jennifer where she got more love.

Maybe 15 minutes after that, there was another scratch at the window.

I immediately looked for Pom because I couldn't remember letting her out. She was curled up on the carpet, so I looked at the window. There were two cat eyes looking in at us.

I went tot he front door, and called for the cat, and this gorgeous black cat walked by. It was about Pom's size, with short shiny fur, but its hindquarters graded into medium length hair and that medium hair made its tail all bushy. I got one body rub on it before it walked by and curled up around one potted plant in the front. I went to approach it, but it started growling. I went back to the door and Jennifer tried to approach. It growled and hissed at her, but didn't leave.

We ended up leaving Pom in for the rest of the evening, but we brought out a little bowl of food for the black cat. I went out to get the bowl before we went to bed, and some of the food had been eaten.

I don't know if we'll see this one again, but it was really pretty.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday, Chili Sunday

Jennifer is back on winning with her fantasy football. She is now 6-3, and very happy. I'm happy too because it makes her mood lighter.

We're also both happy because we got a grocery run to Smart & Final in before the games started today, and we got some new chili powder: New Mexican picante. Just opening the bag smelled like a Mexican restaurant. I still used cayenne, but the majority was the picante. And the chili was excellent. I've even got a cottage cheese carton of the sauce left over.

That's a family tradition by the way to store leftovers in cottage cheese cartons. It started with my Papaw Jack who used to work for a dairy company. Somehow it became the thing to store things in the freezer that way, so my parents always had a case of cottage cheese cartons and lids. Now, that was back in the thin and hard plastic days, nowhere near as durable as the current PET 5 containers we get at Trader Joe's.

We used to wash them out and reuse them as much as possible. The part that would usually go bad first was the lid, usually from the flexing when we would open them up fresh from the freezer. It pretty much became a unit of measurement for me growing up because of the things my parents would store in them. They would make ice cream, and store it in the cartons. they would preserve fruit (plums, peaches, apricots, tomatoes) in the cartons. And of course the leftovers from huge batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, or even barbecue sauce.

So I come by it naturally. Jennifer and I began using Baskin Robbins ice cream containers (PET 2), but they've stopped using plastic and have gone to waxed paper containers. You just can't reuse those. So, now we've built up a stack of the containers from TJ's. Maybe next Sunday I'll make me some meat sauce for pasta...

Anyway, for a very simple chili today, I used:

1.5 pounds of ground beef
2 cans of tomato sauce
New Mexican picante chili powder
Cayenne chili powder
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Sage
Thyme
Ground black pepper
Spaghetti noodles
Cheddar cheese
Saltine crackers
Peanut butter

Brown the ground beef until it's nearly cooked, very little red left. then take it out and rinse it in a large strainer. Rinse it with hot water to wash it out the drain, and this will get rid of a lot of excess fat in the sauce.

Then in another pot put in the two cans of tomato sauce, and then fill each can with water and put that in. This will make the sauce thinner, and more like a soup. Also it gets the last of the tomato sauce out of the can. Turn the heat up to medium, and let it heat up. Then add the meat, and start seasoning. I put in about two tablespoons of each of the chili powders, and then added the rest of the seasonings to taste. You don't really taste much of them, but they add some depth beyond just the chili. I essentially stir the chili powder in, and then just cover the top of the sauce with each of the other seasonings. If you like the texture of cooked onions or garlic (or even diced tomatoes) you can use that, but I like a nice smooth sauce with little meaty bits.

As the sauce begins to boil, turn it down to medium-low, and then lower until it simmer, but is not boiling. This should keep it from burning or bubbling which causes a big mess of splattering tomato sauce. As it simmers keep it covered to prevent it getting too thick. Once it is simmering, you should do multiple tastes to ensure the chili is the right level of spicy hot for you.

Once the chili is the right taste, it's time to boil the spaghetti noodles. You can use what ever size you like, I used spaghettini today because I like thin noodles, but pretty much anything long noodle will work. break it into thirds before boiling it. I did halves today, because I had forgotten that the shorter noodles don't flip and splatter sauce.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and place them in a bowl, filling about half of the bowl. if you like beans or onions in your chili place a layer of them on top of the noodles in the bowl. Then ladle the sauce on top. as a finally topping you can add a layer of grated cheddar cheese on top of the chili.

My finally addition is saltine and peanut butter sandwiches. These are nice to spoon a little chili onto and eat that way. I'd say that's just me and my family, but Jennifer likes it too.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Oh Deary Deary Me

Last night, Jennifer and i went to see Zombieland. It made the night difficult to take. I too good at imagery, and was jumpy for the evening and through the night at every sound I heard. The movie was very good, and I'll see any sequels they do. But I can understand the fear of zombies overall. That kind of thing sticks with you.

Today Jennifer, Steve and Lisa, and I hiked on Mt. Diablo. We started at Rock City, and took the "Trail Through Time" to the top. Up took us two hours. We rested about half an hour at the top, and then came down in and hour and forty minutes.

Jennifer's got a sore shoulder, most likely from the backpack. My hip is giving me trouble, and I've got blisters on both feet.

But dinner tonight was was excellent. Jennifer and I went to Fins on Todos Santos Plaza in Concord. The chowder is made there. The fish and chips is amazing. Jennifer had the best mahi mahi she's ever tasted. And the wait staff is friendly and cute.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Simple Joys

John likes Word. He uses it everyday, and is good with it and HTML, and tags and such.

I like Excel. And tomorrow I get to play with it.

Wednesday for work, I went to Stockton and performed a slug test on two extraction wells. We dropped a five foot long plug into each well, and measured the drop in the water level as it returned to normal. then we pulled it out, and watched as the water level rose to return to normal.

We gathered data for 45 minutes for each test using a dedicated transducer to take a reading every second. As you can imagine that ends up being a lot of data points. So tomorrow I get to graph those pints, and then run some calculations on them to determine the hydraulic conductivity of the aquifer. Plus I have to make the tables pretty for the upcoming report.

See? Fun.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

This Books Stands By Itself

...because it's so bloody thick.

The new Wheel of time book (The Gathering Storm, if you haven't been paying attention) is big even for a WoT book.

It is 766 pages long. And that doesn't include the glossary.

However, I can totally understand Sohmer's sentiments.

I am feeling in this book the fun and excitement that was in the early books. And I'm not yet out of the Prologue/Introduction yet.

And there's two more books to go.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Another Book Down

Thursday night I finished Dracula, the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt. It's not a bad book at all. While some of it dragged, I liked the way things moved, and their occasional commentary on the original. I think I liked the closing with a bit of an interview on the writing of the book as much as I did the book itself. It leaves itself open to a sequel, and I'd read it if it happens.

The takeaway from the book is: Make sure there's a body when you kill someone (or something).

And so move on the The Gathering Storm by Brandon Sanderson and Robert Jordan. I just got it at the library today, so I will give judgement as soon as I make one up.

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