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


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


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


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


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
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.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Guilty Pleasures

So there are something only available at this time of year (or have such limited distribution they might as well only be available now).

One of my friends quests for the General Mills monster cereals. He tells me that this year he started his Halloween with Booberry.

Me, I quest for Kraft caramels. Year round you can find Brach's, but there' something different to their formula., It's okay, but has more of a cooked flavor to it. Maybe it's more caramelized. But I like Kraft. Thursday night, I found some at Safeway. On sale.

I got four bags.

Last night, I shared one with Jennifer, which she appreciated because she knows I don't share my candy well. Probably comes from being an only child. you don't know selfishness until you try to get me to share my Starbursts. But I gave her a cube of caramel.

After the moans of pleasure, she said she understood why I liked them better.

Then she told me to take them to the office because she didn't want them in the house.

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