Friday, December 31, 2010

Books I Read in 2010

1. Sergio Aragones: Five Decades of His Finest Works - Sergio Aragones - ***
2. Small Gods - Terry Pratchett - *****
3. Witches Abroad - Terry Pratchett - *****
4. Reaper Man - Terry Pratchett - *****
5. Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett - *****
6. Eric - Terry Pratchett - ****
7. Guards! Guards! - Terry Pratchett - *****
8. Pyramids - Terry Pratchett - ****
9. Wyrd Sisters - Terry Pratchett - *****
10. Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 3: 1984-1986 - Berkeley Breathed - *****
11. Sourcery - Terry Pratchett - *****
12. Mirror Kingdoms - Peter S. Beagle - ***
13. The Mark - M.R. Bunderson - *
14. Masked - ed. Lou Anders - ****
15. The First Fossil Hunters: Paleontology in Greek and Roman Times - Adrienne Mayor - ****
16. Stories: All-New Tales - ed. Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio - **
17. The Way of Kings - Brandon Sanderson - *****
18. Singularity's Ring - Paul Melko - *****
19. Mort - Terry Pratchett - *****
20. Equal Rites - Terry Pratchett - ****
21. The Light Fantastic - Terry Pratchett - ****
22. The Colour of Magic - Terry Pratchett - ****
23. Darwin's Bastards - ed. Zsuzsi Gartner, William Gibson, Douglas Coupland, and Yann Martel - **
24. The Walls of the Universe - Paul Melko - *****
25. The Green Leopard Plague and Other Stories - Walter Jon Williams - **
26. Shine - ed. Jetse de Vries - **
27. Unplugged: The Web's Best Sci-Fi & Fantasy, 2008 - ed. Merrie Haskell - **
28. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe - Charles Yu - **
29. Waking the Witch - Kelley Armstrong - ****
30. Stars and Gods - Larry Niven - ****
31. Cthulhu's Reign - ed. Darrell Schweitzer - ***
32. Timeshares - ed. Jean Rabe and Martin H. Greenberg - ***
33. Solar - Ian McEwan - *
34. Mercy Thompson: Homecoming - Patricia Briggs - ****
35. Firefly: Still Flying: A Celebration of Joss Whedon's Acclaimed TV Series - Joss Whedon - ****
36. Third Class Superhero - Charles Yu - *
37. Must Love Hellhounds - ed. Penguin Books - ****
38. The Book of Dreams - ed. Nick Gevers - ***
39. The Bird of the River - Kage Baker - *****
40. Arkham Asylum: Madness - Sam Keith - ****
41. Boneshaker - Cherie Priest - **
42. The Fuller Memorandum - Charles Stross - *****
43. And Another Thing... - Eoin Colfer - ****
44. The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams - *****
45. The Year of Living Biblically: One Man's Humble Quest to Follow the Bible as Literally as Possible - A. J. Jacobs - ****
46. American Gods - Neil Gaiman - ****
47. The Atlantis Code - Charles Brokaw - ***
48. Snow Crash - Neal Stephenson - ****
49. Blood Oath - Christopher Farnsworth - ***
50. Magic Bleeds - Ilona Andrews - ****
51. The Road to Amber - Volume 6: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
52. Nine Black Doves - Volume 5: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
53. Last Exit to Babylon - Volume 4: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
54. This Mortal Mountain - Volume 3: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
55. Power & Light - Volume 2: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
56. Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 2: 1982-1984 - Berkeley Breathed - *****
57. Threshold - Volume 1: The Collected Stories of Roger Zelazny - Roger Zelazny - ****
58. Changes - Jim Butcher - *****
59. Kick-Ass - Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. - ****
60. Across the Wall - Garth Nix - ***
61. Abhorsen - Garth Nix - ****
62. Lirael - Garth Nix - ****/**
63. Bloom County: The Complete Library, Vol. 1: 1980-1982 - Berkeley Breathed - *****
64. Silver Borne - Patricia Briggs - ****
65. Not Less Than Gods - Kage Baker - ****
66. Sabriel - Garth Nix - ****
67. Halting State - Charles Stross - ****
68. Glasshouse - Charles Stross - ****
69. Accelerando - Charles Stross - ** 1/2
70. Destroyer of Worlds - Larry Niven and Edward M. Lerner - ****
71. Frostbitten - Kelley Armstrong - ****
72. Black Magic Sancton - Kim Harrison - ****
73. Missile Gap - Charles Stross - ****
74. Iron Sunrise - Charles Stross - ****
75. Singularity Sky - Charles Stross - ****
76. The Story of a Marriage - Andrew Sean Greer - **/****
77. Who Censored Roger Rabbit? - Gary Wolf - ***
78. Wireless - Charles Stross - ****
79. The Complete Peanuts, 1973-1974 - Charles M. Schulz - ****
80. The Complete Peanuts 1971-1972 - Charles M. Schulz - ****
81. The Atrocity Archives - Charles Stross - ****
82. The Jennifer Morgue - Charles Stross - ****
83. Toast - Charles Stross - ***
84. The Psychology of Superheroes: An Unauthorized Exploration - Robin Rosenberg PhD - **
85. Star Wars: Death Troopers - Joe Schreiber - ***
86. The Women of Nell Gwynne's - Kage Baker - ****

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Flashback Music

Back in the 90s I loved Tiny Toon Adventures and their adaptation of the They Might Be Giants "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)"



Then Jennifer was watching an episode of "Raising Hope" and while Cloris Leachman was playing Jenga, she was listening to the song, but it wasn't They Might Be Giants. I did a little looking, and found on Wikipedia that the original artist was the Four Lads. So I had to go looking for their version.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Visit With a Lovely Pleasant Hill Policeman

I got pulled over this evening on Taylor just after Morello.

PHPD: Do you know why I stopped you?
Me: No, sir.
PHPD: You were moving between the lines and making sharp corrections. Have you had anything to drink tonight?
Me: No, sir, not tonight.
PHPD: Are you on your way home?
Me: No we're out looking at Christmas lights.
PHPD: Well, be careful. There are people who are out driving under the influence.

He didn't ask for my license, or insurance. And Jennifer and I drive away thinking, "Yes, sir, and your badge is very large and you have nothing to compensate for."

Jennifer said many times on the way back, "You weren't making sharp corrections. I wold have told you if you were. I'm your wife; that's my job."

We were just a couple miles from the Pleasant Hill police department. We figure he was just out of the barn, and thought in his best Star Wars Imperial voice, "Our first catch of the day."

Prick.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Fieldwork for 2010 Completed

Have I mentioned how much I've been in the field the past few weeks?

All of last week and the past three days this week, I've been in Fremont.

The week before that I did a jaunt to Bakersfield, and a two day trip to Madera and Fresno.

The week before that I had been in Sacramento for three days.

And after I take this next week off, I'll be in Santa Clara for the first week of 2010.

I think I'm just going to hole up for the last week of 2010 and enjoy the silence and climate control.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Full of Fudgy Goodness

Tonight, fudge was a success.

I used the candy thermometer, and achieved the soft ball temperature necessary. it took 13 instead of the directed 10 minutes to reach the proper temperature.

Oh but the spoon and pot tasted so good while waiting for the fudge to cool.

Now I have to apportion for the various parties and gatherings coming up.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Cleaning with Power Tools

Have you ever burned food so bad that you had to clean the pot with a Dremel?

I attempted to make peanut butter fudge on Saturday while Jennifer was out watching men beat the shit out of each other.

I think when I got to the step of putting in the peanut butter and marshmallow creme, I didn't get the temperature up high enough. And so the concoction didn't set up right. I ended up with four glass dishes of peanut butter syrup.

A plea to my parents gave the suggestion of putting it all back in the pot and heating it up to "soft ball" temperature (about 235 Fo). I think it would have worked if the stuff wasn't so thick that I could hardly stir it. By the time it started to get soft, it was too late.

The wonderful smell of peanut buttery-fudgy goodness slowly became the smell of burned food.

I finally gave up as the mixture kept getting darker and pieces started to break off from the bottom. And so after letting it partially cool, I threw out the mix and found about an eighth of an inch of burned candy on the bottom of the pot.

I soaked it. I boiled it. I simmered with baking soda and dish soap. But there was still about half of the bottom covered in thick black distilled carbon. I attacked it with a cheese knife, and then a putty knife. Then I finally had an epiphany.

I got out Jennifer's Dremel, and put in the plastic brush attachment. that proved to be much too soft, and so I switched to the wire brush. And that's what I used for the next half an hour with safety glasses and the occasional pause to change the slight bit of water in the pan to keep the tip cool.

And so I have a clena pan that I can used again some time this week when I get my confidence back.

Of course that's not all that I burned today. I burned a batch of cinnamon toast from neglect (I got distracted), and nearly ruined a batch of Rice-A-Roni when it got hotter than I expected.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Creativity

back when I was addicted to clicky games on Facebook, I was playing several at once. Eventually I whittled them down to just one: Castle Age. Then as I was playing one day a new gift came out for the construction of some sort of druid's weapon.

It was labelled as a ginkgo leaf, but the picture is obviously a magnolia leaf. I grabbed a screen capture, and saved the picture. I filed the picture away planning on doing something with it, but never got around to it. Now as I'm organizing my files from the back-up restoration, I thought I'd have some fun.


Now I'm going to try to submit this to the science geeks' LOL page: LOLCats Can Haz Science.

Marching Band Awesomeness



I saw this on Up Next In Sports, and was amazed. Aside from the fun animation, the band's lines are strong and stable.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Fail Blog

Today I took my car in for it's first smog certification.

And it failed.

There's a service engine light that's come on and the smog center gave me a print out of the error messages. They sound a lot like the error messages I was getting when some of the parts were recalled.

So I got an extension for the registration, and now I'm waiting for the consumer assistance program to help me out with getting it fixed.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Temporal Revisions

So Friday, my schedule for the coming weeks was shuffled a multiple times.

So as it turns out, I'll be going down to Fresno County tomorrow and Tuesday, and then be drilling in Fremont for the rest of the week and all of the following week.

Then the week of Christmas, we've got training on that Monday.

We'll see how the rest of that week goes.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

It. Has. ARRIVED!











I haven't had much time to play with it yet because of my work schedule (up at 5:00 and home after 7:00) this week, but it's pretty amazing.

I'm still learning the keyboard which is a little different as far as page navigation, but the best part (and the thing that didn't photograph) is the backlit keyboard.

I look at the keyboard too much because I use what I call an accelerated Columbus typing method. I've learned to type pretty quickly, and can type without looking if I don't think about it. But with the backlit keyboard I can type without having to have the desktop spotlight of my desk on.

I've installed most of the programs I need onto it, and right now I'm restoring the files that are stored on my backup storage.

And because I got on John's case for announcing a new monitor without specs, here's the laptop's specs:

HP ENVY 17 customizable Notebook PC

Genuine Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-740QM Quad Core
processor (1.73GHz, 6MB L3 Cache) w/Turbo Boost up to 2.93GHz
1GB ATI
Mobility Radeon(TM) HD 5850 Graphics [HDMI]
8GB DDR3 System Memory (2 Dimm)
1TB 7200RPM Dual Hard Drive (500GB x 2) with HP ProtectSmart Hard Drive
Protection
6 Cell Lithium Ion Battery (standard) - Up to 2.25 hours of
battery life +++
17.3" diagonal HD+ HP BrightView Infinity LED Display (1600
x 900)
Blu-ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW with Double Layer Support
(Slot Load)
HP TrueVision HD Webcam
Intel Wireless-N Card with Bluetooth
Backlit Keyboard
Adobe(R) Photoshop(R) Elements 8 & Adobe
Premiere(R) Elements 8
I'm very excited about it all. The most I can say is: Insurance is a wonderful thing, and so are new release specials.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quickly

Drilling for the next three days in Sacramento. Then drilling in Fremont next week. And drilling in Santa Clara the week after that, and possibly into the week of Christmas.

The good news is that my new laptop is finally in transit from the factory in China. It should arrive Thursday.

Then the final hopes will be that the sergeant has made his case successfully enough that we'll get our jewelry back very soon.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Difficulties

So my replacement computer is delayed.

It was supposed to ship the Friday after Veteran's Day, and I found out last Monday that it's delayed. HP won't say exactly why it's delayed, but from some of the things they've said over my many calls, some of the parts are mot making people happy, and they're having to wait for replacements.

So hopefully, it will ship next Monday, and I'll get it by the end of that week. At least they'll be refunding my expedited shipping cost, and an additional $50 once it ships.

I also got a 15% off coupon for a further purchase from HP. I'm leaning towards a new printer. Something that will network, which is the only problem with our little HP 4 LaserJet.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Well Now...

And so the week ends.

I've spent that past three days in Oakland, on block off of Sn Pablo Avenue supervising direct push boring's and grabbing groundwater samples.

Today we played in the rain a little, but managed to finish our work before the significant precipitation began.

It was sure nice to get a hot shower afterwards.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Some Pretty Amazing News

Jennifer and I went in today to identify some further items at the Martinez Police Department that had been collected on a second search warrant at the home of the fence.

Or so we thought.

When we arrived, the sergeant walked us through to a (to us) new area, and into the evidence room. He then had us start identifying real items and matching them up with the pictures we had already looked at. In the middle of this, he comes in and says, "Now a lot of stuff was just dumped into a backpack. Some of it we took pictures of, but some was all tangled up so I'll have you look at it now."

As he came back into the room, I said,. "Well, that's my backpack," and we all kind of chuckled over them using that. We hadn't even noticed it missing. We went through the envelopes that were in the backpack, most of which we had already identified, and then we dumped out the unphotographed envelope. And there was most of the rest of our jewelry.

So as far as we have been able to identify, all of the jewelry will be coming back except for Jennifer's birthday butterfly necklace, a moonstone necklace that her grandmother gave her, and my diamond earring that my parent's gave me from dad's cuff link.

Also while we were talking, the sergeant asked us again when the robbery had happened. He mentioned that when they went in, most of the items were in the backpack or in a woman's purse. Some were one the suspects, and some were spread out on the table being appraised by the fence. I told him again that the burglary was the morning of Thursday, October 28. He then said that their raid was that evening.

We pieced it together that while I was walking through my home with the county sheriff, the sergeant and his people were already recovering most of my stolen property. If the raid had happened on any other day, we likely would never have seen this stuff again.

We didn't end up looking at pictures as the only things they found in the second search of the premises were watches.

As we were finishing up, we asked how long until we would be able to get our property back. He said they are making the case, and are hoping for four convictions: the fence and the three suspects who are believed to have performed the break-in themselves. He thinks it will be another two weeks before he presents the case to the district attorney. At that point, he can ask if the photographs of the evidence will be sufficient, or if the actual items will need to be present for a possible trial. So I'm holding out hope for a return by Christmas.

I also asked if we might be subpoenaed for the trial, and he said that he could testify for us at any hearing having been present at the raid. In the event of a trial, then there would be the possibility of a subpoena.

So, almost everything is nice and safe in Martinez, and locked up. But soon, we'll have almost all of it back.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Duck and Cover

Last night while I was driving home from work I saw some menacing plumes of black smoke coming from the refinery area of Martinez. I switched to the news station, and heard about a shelter in place because of excessive flaring at the Tesoro refinery.

When I got home, Jennifer was turning off the heater, and we made sure that the cat was in.

Here is an article on what happened.

And here is another with some amazing pictures.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Striding Uphill

Yesterday I spoke with the sergeant at Martinez PD again. He asked for a description of items that had not been recovered. He said they were compiling a list to get an additional search warrant.

When they had gone into the fence's house originally, they had picked up only things that looked out of place. This time they would go in and do a more thorough search, especially looking for locations where things might be hidden.

Today, I got an email saying they had gone in and found some more jewelry. So next Monday, Jennifer and I will be going back in for more looking at pictures.

It's pretty exciting to see things like this work out. Jennifer and I are trying to determine a way to thank the Martinez PD. We can't even say it's our tax dollars since we don't live in that city. I'm planning on asking if we can bring food to them or something.

That said, a burglary seems to be good for dieting, especially with appetite suppression. I'm down more than 5 pounds since 10/28.

Monday, November 08, 2010

So Much Good News

We just got out of the police department from looking at pictures of stolen property.

As the detective was pulling up the first picture Jennifer broke into tears seeing a silver bracelet with a large piece of amber set in it. Probably half of the items that were photographed were ours.

Her diamond ring. My ruby ring. My wedding ring. My TeNo. My Bico. My great grandfather's pocket watch. Her Valentine's Day jewelry. Her diamond earrings.

Not everything was there, but the officer said only what had looked put of place was collected.

The diamond earring. My Superman earrings. My ankhs.

Still hope remains.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

High Anxiety

All I can think about today us going to the Martinez PD tomorrow and looking at photos of recovered property, and hoping they have found more than just Jennifer's class ring.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hope Grows

Yesterday I got a call from the Martinez Police Department. He was returning my call, and while confirming what had been stolen and getting the Contra Costa County Sheriff's case number, he asked if I knew Jennifer.

I said that yes, she's my wife.

He said that they had found her high school class ring. It of course had the year she graduated, but also had her initials on it. He had then gone to Ygnacio and looked at the yearbook for our senior year, and he said there were only two people with those initials in our graduating class.

I am so excited. I know it's no guarantee of anything, but it is at least one item that has been recovered. Plus it will be a piece of evidence towards conviction of the fence and maybe a lead toward apprehending the thieves.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Binders of Photos

Asa further follow-up, I got an e-mail yesterday that said there will be photographs of the stolen items recovered from the fence that will be available for viewing next week.

Jennifer and I continue to hope.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

A Glimmer of Hope

Yesterday on my way back to work from eating lunch at home, my neightbor flagged me down.

She asked if I got the newspaper. I said, no, and she said there had been bust in Martinez of a believed fence's clearinghouse.

Here's the article.

And now, it wasn't my laptop with the GPS chip. But I did call the number inthe article, and also sent an e-mail.

My evening did go better last night, but I still didn't sleep very well.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Let's Be Blunt

Last week was shitty.

I worked 60 hours last week. It was a good project, but each night I was pretty tired.

Thursday evening was absolutely fucking horrible.

Jennifer was working late, and I got home about 6:45. I loved on Pom and saw the little stray we've been feeding waiting outside on the patio. When I put his food out, I heard some scrabbling on the redwood outside and saw two raccoons watching me. I thought it'd be cool to get some pictures of them, so I went out to the car, got my camera, and went to the front door.

Where I saw: broken wood, candles askew on the foyer table, and Jennifer's dream sign on its face.

I walked kind of stunned to the door and saw that it had been kicked in breaking the frame.

I ran to the office and saw that my laptop was missing. Then with a sinking feeling I went to the bedroom, and saw a nightmare. Our jewelry boxes were empty with the drawers on the floors, and all of the top drawers of our dressers were open.

All of our jewelry is gone except fro what we were wearing that day.

My wedding ring is gone. My ruby and diamond ring my parents gave me for my 21st birthday and modified for graduating college is gone. The diamond earring made from a cuff link of my Dad's is gone. All the special jewelry I've accumulated over 40 years is gone.

Fortunately Jennifer was wearing her white sapphire engagement ring, and her gold wedding band. But the jewelry I'd bought her for Valentine's Day this years is gone. Her gold cat charm necklace is gone. Her new diamond ring we bought from the Sorrells is gone.

Now we're stuck in the grieving process. Lights stay on all the time; all through the night. Jennifer wakes up every hour even with ear plugs. I stay up reading until I'm exhausted and can do nothing but sleep.

Going off of the five stages of grief, we both got through Denial pretty quickly. Anger washed over me for a while, and I still hold on to that if I were to ever find the people who did this. I've thought about Bargaining, but that seemed pretty futile. Now Jennifer and I are stuck in Depression with a healthy dose of fear. We've bounced into acceptance once and a while, but it doesn't last.

Last night was my turn to break down. I just feel powerless.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Oakland Drilling

This week I'm drilling in Oakland. We're doing 90 holes in five days.

We're working with two teams of geologists, so each group is needing to make about 9 holes a day.

Right now, we're a little behind the pace, but we've had some refusals (places where we could not reach depth), and so that may help us.

We made some good time today after lunch with a new procedure, and so we think we'll be back on track by the end of the day tomorrow.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Trying Again

All right, I'm going to try to get back in the habit of blogging. I've fallen off recently from working to finish a 1,000-page book.

The book was The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson, and I have to admit that I was a bit reluctant to start a new epic fantasy series with the first volume just crossing 4 digits.

Jennifer said that I should give it a chance, and so I did. The Prologue was interesting, and then the Introduction was truly intriguing with a tease at the new magic system Sanderson has created. And from then on I was hooked. Aside from the humans and one small region, the world is almost like evolution moved on with crustaceans and corals. The magic system is based on gems that catch the power of storm that travel east to west.

Sanderson has obviously been influenced from his writing of the Wheel of Time conclusion, but mostly in the magic-technology lost to antiquity and the epic feel of things. The story is all his own. I look forward to his future volumes in this world of the Stormlight Archives.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

To Sum Up

Jennifer and I had a full weekend with her dad visiting.

We ate at Cafe Gratitude on Thursday, saw "Red" and ate in North Beach on Friday, hit the Pleasant Hill farmers' market Saturday morning, and then ate at Fellini Sunday morning before he flew home.

Then last night we got the last pieces for our costumes, and carved Jack o'Lanterns.

Pictures are up on Facebook, but I'll put up some here when I get home.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm Not the Only One

A couple weeks ago I mentioned that one night on the road I was seeing Lanterns everywhere.

Today, from a strip called Loldwell I learned I'm not the only one who has ever seen things like that.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hemoglobin! Hemoglobin! We Want Blood!

This morning I had blood taken for work for the first time at since I've been at this company. It also the first blood I've had taken since I started getting tattoos.

Since we're going to be doing sampling for heavy metals for one of our clients, I've been asking that we be medically monitored for metals in our annual physicals. I've been asking for this for over a year. And since I'll be going in the field at the end of the month for this sampling, I began to ask a little more often and a little more strongly.

This was finally granted Monday, and so I went in today.

The woman that did the work was very nice, and I didn't jump when she put the needle in.

I can however still feel the pain from the needle in my arm and the occasional tingle all the way down to my fingers while I type.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally Mounted

I have, over the past few months, discovered the usefulness of magnets for sword hanging. Some of the swords I have are in their sheathes, and so I can use a large tool-hanging magnet from the hardware store. But for a few, I either have no sheath, or the sheaths are lame, so I'm hanging them with naked blades.

Now I used to have one sword hanging up on the wall by itself, but I got a companion blade for it, and so I needed to move it over. It took a few tries, and some patching and re-painting, but the swords are hung as you can see below.

I'm very happy with the look.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

I'm Peeling

This most recent work on my tattoo is healing more quickly than before, and kind of differently.

Most of the previous session have involved color oozing out of the skin into shirts, and just being overall sticky for sheets and clothing.

But I haven't oozed at all this time, and I'm peeling a few days sooner. Of course that could just mean that I'll peel twice on some of them, but we'll see.

As for the work itself, Phil started work on the facets of the exploding planet. His blending is very impressive, and also gives a sense of motion to the pieces.



I continue to be very excited for the project.

Monday, October 04, 2010

More Than a Week

So what have I been doing?

Not a whole hell of a lot.

I keep think there should be something to post, but there hasn't been anything new online I'd like to talk about.

I've just been reading through the Discworld series. And then I got some books at the library, and once I'm done with Mort, I'll move on to those, and then get back to Pratchett.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Too Many Comic Books

I've been catching up on my reading recently.

And the other day I was out driving at night, and came up to a large intersection that had another large intersection a couple hundred yards further on.

I saw green, red, and yellow lights in the air and red and orange lights on the ground.

And where does my mind go?

The Blue, Indigo, and Violet Lanterns are seriously under-represented here (don't even ask, just go here).

It's not really a sickness, just an overabundance of sodium benzoate as a child.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How it Should Have Ended

So about every week or so a fun webpage called How It Should Have Ended rewrites movies. They try to make them either make more sense, or just take care of a little wish fulfillment.

Some of them have been good. Some have been really great.

Their take on "The Empire Strikes Back" is really incredible.




And Then, Depression Set It

John posts some of the worst news on Facebook.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nothing

That's just about all that's been going in the past few days.

Updates when something occurs that is worth noting.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Such a Fine Read

Today I finished a very fine book.

Another one recommended by io9, The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko is a story of alternate realities and a boy who get caught in traveling through them with a device he doesn't understand.


It reads fast, and yet is long enough that I didn't feel like it was done before it got anywhere. But at the same time as I reached the conclusion, I read faster to know what was going to happen.


It's a small thing, but I really the concept that neighboring worlds as they are numbered by the transfer device are not slightly different. Similar worlds can be hundreds of parallels away.


The io9 article says that Melko has a movie deal for The Walls of the Universe, and a sequel is is on its way.


He has another book entitled Singularity's Ring. I've just finished reserving it at the library.


But what do I read now?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Fun Day

Today was lots of fun.

I ran to Livermore to get my comics, and had Philly Cheese Steak for lunch.

Then I met John in San Francisco for drinks and wandering.

We started in San Francisco Center and then moved on the the Irish Bank.

After talking about how only the soup and potatoes seemed like authentic Irish appetizers, I came across chicken wings.

So I suggested eating at Hooters down on the Wharf.

It was a nice walk and after working our way through many tourists who all seemed to be walking away from the Cannery, we made it to Hooters. We split a bunch of Daytona Wings and a couple pitchers of beer.

Then we walked back to the Embarcadero, and took BART home.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

A New Pet Peeve

Today the environmental consultant for the property owner for one of our sites e-mailed me at 5:01 PM.

Do you know what type of person does that? The type who wants to look like they're busy, and doesn't really want to interact with anyone. The type of person who tries to make other people look like they're taking too long to respond.

Now, I was able to answer some of the questions asked in the e-mail because I have a smartphone for work. I also understand that he was probably talking with his client, or the people his client is trying to sell the land to, and it was the end of the day possibly after a meeting.

But 5:01? Really?

The Coolness Approaches

Okay, this is a bit of a Star Trek themed post.

First off a little video from Germany's Sci-Fi channel:



And then there's the new nearly transparent aluminum.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Comics and Animation

Recently I've watched several of the new DC Comics animated superhero direct to DVD movies. I have to say that I've been very impressed with them.

Back in college "Batman, the Animated Series" brought Batman back to television, and done in a style reminiscent of the old 40s cartoons. Soon after an animated Superman followed, and I was thrilled. In the past few years some direct to DVD adaptations have been made of Superman stories.

"Death of Superman" was a retelling that did a pretty good job without going into all of the "Reign of the Supermen" after-story. There was also an okay story with Brainiac.

Then around the time of the live action "The Dark Knight" an animated anthology called "Batman: Gotham Knight" came out. Drawn in a more modern, but still realistic style, this collection had an almost anime feel at times in the old "Akira" type style.

One that I truly enjoyed was "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies". this one not only held very close to the original comic, but also was drawn in the style of the artist who did the original books.

Two of the newest adaptations have been Green Lantern and Wonder Woman.

The one about Wonder Woman is a blend of the old Wonder Woman with a Steve Trevor romance and the new Wonder Woman emphasizing her youth. It was entertaining and had some good lines in it.

The one about Green Lantern was exceptional, and will give the forthcoming live-action movie something to work with. There's going to be so many animated aliens and effects, that it might as well be a cartoon anyway.

I didn't have Cartoon Network for the animated Justice League, but I plan to catch up on that with Netflix. I did watch the animated Legion of Super-Heroes, but it just made me miss the old comics instead of really enjoying the show itself.

And I thoroughly enjoyed Batman Beyond. DC has even made the animated series canon by creating a more realistically drawn series that refers to events in the TV show. Whether it's a future world or an alternate-future world remains to be seen.

So yes, these keep me happy, and I have several new DVDs to look forward to with the introduction of Supergirl, and a Superman meets Captain Marvel. I'm pretty psyched.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Whom?

Sunday, I spent some time at my parents

While I was there, I noticed this little statue:



Now, surely I've seen it before, but it never registered. At least not for what it could quite possibly be. Compare it to this:



I know a lot of people may not get the reference. So go to this article at Wikipedia and become (slightly) informed.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

WTF!

WTF Jeans that is.

Many months ago I read about WTF jeans, and thought they looked pretty cool. I was intrigued enough that I looked up their web page, and ordered a pair.

Now this is a start-up company, and they were gathering funds to do all of the work. They were taking payments through PayPal, but ran into a problem. PayPal requires that all products be shipped within one month of payment. Now as this was in the beginning of the year, with planned shipment around the first of September, that wasn't doable.

WTF had to refund all of the money, and then resolicit payment through credit cards. I repaid for the jeans and then waited for September.

My jeans came in yesterday. Of course, Jennifer and I were out at mail delivery time, but I picked them up today, and couldn't wait to try them on. They use the same measurements as a pair of Levi's, and are low rise. The length of them are perfect, and they've got a button fly. The picture of them on the webpage are cool, but it's even cooler to have a pair of my own.

Now I'm torn between wearing my new WTF jeans tomorrow or my new utilikilt to work tomorrow.

As their slogan says "WTF Jeans - wear them FTW"

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Saints Preserve Us

And so as threatened on Facebook, what happens to the good fruit.

The normal thing was for Mom and Dad to eat them of course. Fruit in bowls. Tomatoes on hamburgers, BLTs, with green beans, roasted in the oven, or used in spaghetti sauce.

But Dad can't leave thing simple.

He made peach ice cream. He may have made apricot ice cream too, I'm not sure.

Then there was the attempt at making brandy. Now back in the 70s wine was really starting to become big. And my parents were expanding their palettes. One of Dad's creations was a wine punch which is very similar to a sangria. Now when you make this you use jug wine, and we used what Mr. Welles hawked, so after the parties were over, we had big green empty wine jugs.

I don't know the recipe for making these brandies, but I'm sure it involved a little yeast and maybe even some other brandy to start. But the main ingredient was fruit. and they had lots of peaches and plums to experiment with. Now the wine jugs had screw tops, and that kept them pretty much air tight. And dad had two of the jugs on his work bench in the garage.

The liquid was cloudy with pulp and the yeast, and we just let them ferment.

Again, I don't remember if we heard the mini-explosion, but I do remember going out into the garage and things being sticky, and there being a lot of broken glass. Now only one bottle was destroyed, and Dad took care of ti for a long time.

He or Mom will have to comment on if any of it still survives. I know he used to strain it once a year, and give out little tastes.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Ooh, That Smell...

This morning I was making my lunch for the day, and went to the fruit bowl for my apple (man, that's still hard to spell right).

Under some tomatoes and a couple plums was a nectarine that had gone bad. Right on top of my apples.

Two of the apples had gone bad as well, and the plums were pretty ripe.

As I was cleaning up the bad fruit and washing the bowl, the smell of rotting fruit gave me a mini-flashback.

Between the ages of 7 and 12, the house I lived in had several fruit trees and a garden. An "ornamental" plum tree that produced huge amounts of small plums every year. Then in the back were an apricot, a peach tree, and an orange tree which were no less prolific. In between the peach and apricot was the garden. And my parents' favorite thing in the garden? Tomatoes.

Mine was artichokes, but we never let those rot.

Not that we let the other stuff rot, it was just that birds don't eat half of an artichoke and then throw it on the ground. Artichoke plants also don't get 15 feet tall producing divine tasty treat beyond the reach of the harvest boy and his trusty fruit plucking basket on a stick.

So my spring and summer chores were to pick up the rotting fruit from the garden, yard, and sidewalk.

And my parents wonder why I don't like fruit.

Then there was the day in college when one of the other geology students came in with a grocery bag of tomatoes. She offered some around, and then proceeded to spend the day eating them like apples. Of course they were getting bruised at the bottom and were leaking juice. I had to make sure that I didn't sit close to her that day as the smell was making me nauseous.

Mom and Dad's luck continues to run true as their latest house has a large persimmon tree in the front yard that has proven immune to Dad's dormant spray. They've talked about cutting it down, but it's a nice shade tree for their front yard. So if anyone out there like persimmons, just drop by for a visit when they're in season and you'll be sent home with bags.

Yes, bags. Plural.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Painting

This weekend, in and around Scottish Games and Fantasy Football Drafts, I did some More painting. I'm working on several at once, but this one came together quickly

The title of the miniature is Gray Maiden, so I worked on a monochromatic theme.



I think she turned out rather well.

She is the first of the batch that I got with my birthday gift certificate, so thanks John. the others I'm working on are from various batches, but I'll continue put them up as I get them done.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Cool!

All right, so aside from looking like a Bond villain death machine, this fan is pretty neat looking.



I saw it at OhGgizmo, and they've got some links.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

All That Jazz

Last night was our final celebration for our anniversary.

Jennifer had purchased tickets on Goldstar for a jazz trio performing at the Yoshi's in San Francisco.

So of course we had to have dinner there as well.

We started with a tuna tartar that was excellent, and then had an amazing cut a beef that was described as better than a filet, and we believe it was. Unfortunately it was a Japanese term , and we've not been able to remember it. The food and atmosphere was amazingly better than the Oakland branch.

Then there was the trio. They played five songs, and I enjoyed the second and third songs. The others were just noise to me. But the two songs that I did like showed some incredible musicality.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Painting Miniatures

This weekend I've done some cooking, making a yellow cake with homemade chocolate icing topped with roasted cocoa nibs.



I've also been doing some painting on the miniatures I got for my birthday and form a friend who's selling off some of his collection. I thought I'd explain a bit of the process. Below are all of the miniatures in raw metal.



Now, you paint them with an acrylic paint, and that doesn't tend to adhere to well to the metal, so you have to prime them.



I ended up using up the last of my primer, but I think I've got enough miniatures to keep me going for a while.

I managed to complete one figure this weekend. It's one that I've been coveting ever since i first saw it, and have never been able to find anything like it. it's a giantess, but what makes her different is that she isn't monstrous, just big. I got to borrow her once for a RPG session I was running, and wanted one like her ever since. The friend who is selling off some of his collection had her in the batch, and I could hardly wait to get to work on her.



And now she's all done.

Friday, August 27, 2010

10 Years of Marriage

Wednesday was my tenth wedding anniversary. Today marks the ten year anniversary of our honeymoon.

We had delayed it by a day to visit with visiting family and friends. People who had come up to 2,500 miles to witness my marriage to Jennifer. My Dad's sister (Ohio) and her granddaughter (Florida). My Mom's mother and papa, and Mom's brother and his wife (all from Kentucky). My Dad's uncle and his wife (also Kentucky). My cousin (Iowa, I think, but perhaps Virginia at the time). Jennifer's parents (Oregon). Old friends from Dad's time at Chevron (Florida and Texas), and family friends (Kentucky). There may have been others, but they are no less loved, and I apologize if they slip my mind at this time.

And then all of the friends from around California. Friends from college mostly, but some from work, and even one from my first time in California whom I'd known since I was 7-years-old.

Then there were those who stood with us. Jennifer's nieces were our flower girls. Again two friends from college were my ushers, one a gamer through John, and the other through marching band. Working up the steps, were my cousin Lee on Jennifer's side who was balanced with my good friend Donna on my side. Then Jennifer's friend Luann and my friend Brian. Finally Jennifer's Matron of Honor was her sister Cynthia, and my Best Man, John before he became a ninja space monkey.

All three on my side I had gotten to know in the marching band at Sac State, and knew that I could count on to help me if I panicked. I didn't, but it was wonderful to have them there with me.

Jennifer continues to talk about how wonderful Lee was to her that day. He kept her distracted and entertained until it was time to get ready.

And a personal addition was to have both my local minister and the minister that I had grown up with in Kentucky.

Of course the topper was to have my new bride sing to me. You can hear the original artist sing it here and here. I have the entire ceremony on a mini-disc, so I need to figure a way to convert it to an MP3.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Recent Reading

Over the past few weeks, I've had quite a few books turn out disappointing. I worked at finishing them, but I didn't get very far before putting all three of them aside.

Boneshaker by Cherie Priest just never went anywhere. I tried, but I could not remain interested enough in it to want to find out about the secrets the characters kept referring to.

Then I tried two books that were recommended by io9.

First I made an attempt at Charles Yu's short story collection Third Class Superhero. the first story, which was the title story, was all right, but none of the other stories captured my attention. I've reserved a full length book of his called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. I'm hoping it is better.

And finally today, I gave up on Ian McEwan's Solar. I wanted to like this one. It's gotten a lot of hype on io9, but it was so boring. I understand it needed to set up to protagonist (a +50 year old womanizing physicist on his fifth marriage, because those are so common), but get me to the science fiction. Get me to the action. Get me to the conflict other than his being secretly jealous of the up-and-coming doctoral student. And please get me beyond him dealing with the man his latest wife is sleeping around on him with (or may not be). I don't care.

These two books were ones I requested at the library. I've already devoured all of Charles Stross' sci-fi work. I need more to read.

So now I'm moving on to the other great resource for finding new authors: short story anthologies. The first is edited by Martin H. Greenberg, and so far he has always had good authors in his collections.

Working in the Heat

Yesterday, we had a bit of a fire-drill at work yesterday. One of the field geologists called in sick, so I had to help out for some water sampling.

The location was the new construction area at the administration building at the Bay Bridge toll plaza.

While I was only out there for two hours, it was from 1:00 to 3:00. It turns out that yesterday peaked at 99oF.

By the end of the time, my shirt was saturated as was the waistband of my jeans.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crater Lake Pictures

There are many folders for this one. I took a lot of pictures, and we haven't even downloaded the ones from Jennifer's camera yet.

So here is where you can find them.

For the overall folder of pictures you can go here.

In the sub-folders chronologically, there are pictures from The Drive. Then there are the pictures we took at Annie Creek during the ascent to the crater rim. Once we got a chance to look around I took a little three picture Panorama of the lake; I'll try some Photoshop fun and see if I can stitch these together nicely. Next come the pictures of our hike up to Garfield Peak Saturday afternoon. And of course, that night we had our wonderful Dinner at the Lodge. The next morning was the incredible Sunrise. And finally our hike down to the water's edge at Cleetwood Cove.

I know I've got to add some descriptions to the pictures, so I'll try to add those on tonight.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Crater Lake

Well, it was really an incredible trip.

We left Redding in the mid-morning, and worked our way up to Crater Lake. Essentially the route was up Interstate 5, then around Mount Shasta counterclockwise, and then a slow climb up the remnants of Mount Mazama.

We got to the lodge right at 4:00, just in time for check-in. We then dropped our stuff in the room, and got changed for a hike. We went from the lodge to one of the peaks that surround the crater called Garfield Peak. In the trail map we bought, it describes the hike as Difficult and about 2 to 3 hours. It was an amazing trek that was 3.4 miles round trip, and went from 7,050 to 8,060 feet above sea level. I'll go with the difficult, I guess, but I think that means we've been doing higher grade trails than we thought. We did this in right at 2 hours.

The views were really amazing, as were the rocks. the slight over cast kept the true blue of the lake from coming out, but what it hinted at made me look foreword to the next day even more.

That night we at at the lodge restaurant, and had some incredible food. Jennifer had a cumin encrusted halibut, and I had bison prime rib. My task now is to find a place online to buy bison meat.

The night was a bit rough. Jennifer and like a lot of pillows, and there were only three. Plus the temperature in the room was hard to regulate. So, I was awake at 5:30, and started thinking about what we were going to do that day. I thought how cool it would be to see the sun coming up over the rim of the crater. That's when I opened my eyes and saw a slight lightening around the curtain. I turned to Jennifer to see if she was awake (she was), and asked if she'd like to go out and watch the sunrise.

We got dressed in about 10 minutes. Then we got out there and were reminded how cold high altitudes get in the night. We found ourselves a nice place to watch the crater rim, and I ran back to get the blanket from the bed. And then we spent the next half hour watching the few scattered clouds glow red, then pink, and then finally gold as the sun came up.

Afterwards, we went in and each got a cup of tea, and went back to the room to warm up. that's when we decided that we would drive to the top of the trail that leads down to the water's edge. On the drive, we decided that we would do the hike, but skip the boat ride. That trail that leads down to Cleetwood Cove is 2.2 miles round trip for 724 feet elevation change, but is labeled as Strenuous and an average 11% grade. I worked it out on the drive home, and the average slope was 1 foot fall/rise for every 8 feet walked.

The hike down and up were partially blocked by trees, so we saw glimpses of the lake. But once we got to the bottom it was spread out and an incredible blue. The edges have a gorgeous green cast to them. But the water is nearly lifeless. There are some fish that have been brought in, and apparently there is fear about an influx of crayfish from somewhere, but otherwise, there's not a lot in the water.

Once we got back tot he car, we felt good, but we were very tired. Jennifer drove for about an hour, but it got to be too much for her, so I ended up driving the rest of the way home.

Now something to mention is that while she did this in good walking shoes, I did both hikes in my Vibram FiveFinger shoes. The soles and heels of my feet are fine; no blisters, no problem. My calves are an entirely different story. I've figured that it has to do with the way the foot bends in them, because as I walk around the house, that's when the calves hurt. I spent the day trying different ways to stretch them out, but I figure I'll just be feeling like this for a few days.

I'm working on the picture uploads, so once they're up, I'll post the link.

Home

We got home last night. I'm very sore in my calves from the hiking. This is probably exacerbated from being the primary driver on the way back.

I'll have pictures and a full description up later today.

Friday, August 20, 2010

On the Road

Jennifer and I are on the road to Crater Lake this weekend. The stay was a gift a couple years ago from my in-laws, and so we decided to combine it with our upcoming 10-year wedding anniversary.

Today we drove up Highway 1, and had some remembrances of our honeymoon in Jenner. We passed where we had dinner, our first night, and then saw the Bed & Breakfast where we stayed. Once we got to Gualala, we were ready to begin looking for a place to stay, so we cut across past Clear Lake, and got to Interstate 5. We pushed on to Redding, and got a great room there.

Then we went out and got Chinese take-away for a late dinner.

Tomorrow we'll get on the road, and get to Crater Lake.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Geek Songs

John has a link to a video that is just odd. I saw it yesterday, and thought that this girl has some issues.

It did solidify some thoughts I'd been having recently on geek music of which I have several favorites.

Now while Weird Al Yankovic is a major contributor, not all of his music falls into this category. "It's All About the Pentiums" and "White and Nerdy" are perfect examples, but so is "The Saga Begins".

Other great songs "The Star Wars Cantina" by Mark Jonathon Davis and "Finite Simple Group (of Order Two)" by The Klein Four Group.

Of course there are lots of filk songs, of which the above Cantina song falls into, but even the big name bands had their fiction, science fiction, and fantasy inspirations. The Alan Parsons Project's first album Tales of Mystery and Imagination has songs that are all based on stories and poems by Edgar Allen Poe. I've never gotten into the band, but apparently Iron Maiden was a huge fan of Frank Herbert, and wrote several songs about the Dune saga. Even Elton John's "Rocket Man" could be placed in the genre. William Shatner's version is close to abomination.

Of course, there are some songs that the less said about, the better.

Monday, August 16, 2010

More Flashback Books

Mom's right, I forgot Richard Scarry.

I don't remember the insides of those books, but I do remember the covers.

The main one I remember is Richard Scarry's Best Storybook Ever. I remember how the spine got destroyed from over use.

Looking at the Amazon entry for it, I do remember the cut away house with the rabbits in it.

And then there was this box set of four books. I think they may have been the Richard Scarry's Look & Learn Library.

Flashback Books

As a child, there were a few books that were my favorite.

One was The Five Chinese Brothers. The concept was cool that five identical brothers each had separate abilities.

Other favorites were the books of Virginia Lee Burton: Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel; Katy and the Big Snow; and The Little House.

There were books on drawing stick figure style vehicles and such.

And then until recently there were two mysterious books whose names I could not remember.

A year or so ago, Mom found one of them for me. All I could remember was a tale of koalas who were left homeless and foodless due to a swarm of locusts eating all the eucalyptus leaves and then being taken to a new location by kangaroos. Mom talked with teachers and discovered the book was called Bear Circus. As soon as I saw the cover, I knew it was right.

Then last week, I did a little search again for the final book. Again I could only remember scenes and lines. It was about a town that got swarmed with wasps. It was where I learned that the word "pate" meant the top of a bald man's head. And I thought that the town had saved itself by making a giant stack of pancakes and getting the wasps caught in the syrup.

With a little research for wasps and children's books, I discovered that my problem for years had been misremembering the method of capturing the wasps. The book is The Giant Jam Sandwich.

I got it at the library on Friday, and read it to Jennifer that night. I was amazed at how much of it came back to me while I read.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The New Gods

Once there was a world with three gods.

Each god was given dominion over different pieces of land on the world and different races of beings. And so together they created and populated this world. They even gave one small piece of land each to two lesser gods.

Over time their world flourished, but two of the gods became possessive of their world. They looked on other lands and desired to reshape them. When the third god went away one day, they divided his lands between them, and molded them to their will. One god even took over the lands of the two lesser gods.

Then did the two gods enjoy their power, and for a time all was good.

Then in their arrogance, each of the two gods gave temporary dominion over one of their lands to two demons. Both demons did then pervert those lands for a time, and the gods grew angry. They wrested power of their lands back, and strove to hide all evidence that the demons had ever had dominion.

Now again the world flourishes, even growing larger as the gods spread their influence over it.

At again, all is good.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Speed Reading

One author I read once said in an interview or on his webpage to not read his newest book too quickly as it was an arc and that he was ending the series. That advice went away, and yet even if I had heeded it, I don't know if I would have read the book an slower.

There are certain books and sometimes authors whose books can only be devoured. You are absorbed into them, and you have to finish them just to make sure that the characters come out of everything all right.

... or don't.

One of these books is Charles Stross' latest: The Fuller Memorandum. I believe I started it Sunday night, and I finished it last night.

The Fuller Memorandum is the third novel in the Tales of the Laundry, and I could not get through it fast enough.

Like the other Laundry books, this one accelerates, and you worry about Bob Howard, and if he's going to make it out alive this time. Stross even teases the whole tale with a prologue by the protagonist telling you he's writing all this down after the fact, and yet you read the book and still wonder if he's going to make it.

I hope Stross can continue the Laundry series with such strength, and yet still write other fascinating hard science fiction stories. Like a sequel to Iron Sunrise.

Please.

***

And so now, I am on to Boneshaker by Cherie Priest. It was lent to me by a coworker and I am going to try to read it. It has two marks against it from me from the start. It's a steampunk tale, and apparently it's also about zombies.

Now, I knew it was steampunk because my coworker told me that, but I could also tell because the protagonist on the cover is wearing goggles that are a variation on acetylene goggles. I did not know about the zombies until I was a couple chapters in.

You see, I try to avoid reading the blurbs on the back (or inside flap) of a book I already know I am going to read. I've had too many experiences in the past where a turning point of the plot is revealed, and I spend the parts of the book leading up to it waiting for that event to happen.

To explain my demerits, first off, my aversion to steampunk. Maybe it's because I was never that much into history. Steampunk is just an alternate earth thing that I've never enjoyed.

Than there's zombies. I'm not a zombie fan. I've seen three zombie movies total: "Shaun of the Dead", "28 Days Later", and "Zombieland". I don't like horror movies, and so I won't be watching any of the George Romero films. So I am finding it hard to look forward to the inevitable outbreak in Boneshaker.

A boneshaker BTW is normally slang for the large front wheeled bicycles of the Victorian era. The book is about a boneshaker that is a coring vehicle like what Cave Carson drives.

I will give it a chance, but I've got a slew of books reserved at the library, and once they come in, I better be engrossed, or this book goes back on the shelf.

Movies

Over the weekend, Jennifer and I watched "Pandorum". It was a cool concept, and I enjoyed both the mystery and the surprises, as well as the thing I was able to figure out.

And I was happy that it had an ending. A real ending that made sense within the context of the movie.

I told Jennifer that it was much better than "Event Horizon" and she agreed. We chatted a bit about "Event Horizon", and I told her my long ago observation that I described it to people as a cross between the video game "Doom" and the movie "The Black Hole".

She said she hadn't seen "The Black Hole."

I said, of course you have. Disney movie. Anthony Perkins. The Cygnus. The first Disney movie not to be rated G.

She said that no, she hadn't.

I got online to Netflix immediately, and it arrived the next day.

Sunday we watched it.

It's not a great movie, but it is a fun movie. For about 90% of the film.

The physics is (are?) inconsistent (free fall, lack of atmosphere, etc.), but the scenery is amazing.

But then they enter the black hole, and the movie becomes stranger than Spock mind-melding with V-Ger (a movie that came out the same year, BTW).

But it is a classic that took old cliches, like Captain Nemo and a mad scientist, and made a whole new cliche out of them.

And still not "Sunshine" nor "Supernova" have ever come close to being as much of a substitute acid trip like the end of "Event Horizon".

Monday, August 09, 2010

Achievement

Today I managed to evaluate a piece of software that I have been wanting to try out.

I will admit it was not through the best of means, but I had compare the listed system requirements of said software, and it had appeared that my computer did not measure up.

I did not want to spend the money for this software if it would turn out that my computer could not run it.

But through perseverance, I found that it in fact does a pretty good job of the whole thing.

I think in a couple weeks I will treat myself to this software.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Grill Night

So a few weeks later, I finally made the complete meal that we had been wanting.

We walked over to County Square Market and got a nice ahi tuna steak. I rubbed it with grape seed oil and coated it with sesame and flax seeds. The searing was easy, and it turned out wonderfully.

Then using my previous experience with the filets, the second time was no problem, and they turned out even better. This time I rolled the edges in ground pepper and then ground lemon pepper on top and bottom. The seasoning made it even better.

As you can see, the meal turned out beautifully:



The potatoes kind of fell apart when we opened them to put on butter, but they were nice and flaky.

Progress

So I started peeling last night. I had major itch spasms, and could feel the loose skin starting when I reached back. So that's really great.

It looks like I'll be heading up to Eureka for a pump test on Wednesday, so I'll be mostly healed up by then.

***

Last night I finished the five part trilogy of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and started the posthumous sixth book by Eoin Colfer. I finished that today after lunch.

I don't know how much information Colfer got from notes left by Douglas Adams, as I thought we had been given all of those notes in The Salmon of Doubt, but it was a satisfying read and semi-conclusion.

It does make me long for the alternate reality where Adams not only wrote the sixth book himself, but made it the third book in the Dirk Gently series as well.

But then, that's what dreams are for.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Coolness

Okay, first off, I'm healing just fine. Jennifer put the salve on me today, and I had an almost immediate attack of itchiness. I'm guessing the peeling will start around Monday.

On a different note, band geeks do weird things. One thing a group of us used to do is perform fake sign language to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody." I guess we aren't' the only ones, and some people even know real sign language that do it.

The following is the best I've found, and is even done to match the original video:

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Inception Soundtrack - The Reveal

A friend sent me a link to this article in the New York Times.

So, yes maybe more people could have figured it out, and maybe they did.

But the thing is that a lot of us who listen to soundtracks aren't really big fans of Edith Piaf.

It's still an amazing trick though. And even better the find out that Nolan had the idea for it when he wrote the script.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Day One: After


Phil does some amazing work as you can see. Thinking about it, this is the fourth anniversary of my first tattoo, which is the traditional "S" at the top.


I was going only once a year, but I've become more and more excited lately, and will end up with three or four visits this year. It will probably continue that way until the coloring is completed.


I still need to come up with a color scheme for the ship.


I'm leaning towards a golden yellow because the most recent depictions in the books are that color, but the old traditional was blue with red fins.


I've got some outlines done, and I'll just need to do some coloring with all possible schemes to help me decide.

Day One: Before

I'm taking the rest of the week off. It's time for more color.

This afternoon, I'll be in Vacaville getting more color on exploding Krypton.

I'm very excited about the work moving forward.

also, Phil has some time, so he'll be touching up Jennifer's.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Biblical Jacbos

This evening I finished The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs.

I read about the book in an article on Mental Floss, and the concept fascinated me.

For a year, Jacobs did his best to follow all of the commandments, directives, and laws in the Bible (around 700 of them). And he worked with rabbis, ministers, priests, hasids, and read stacks of books as well as multiple versions of the Bible.

It truly was a fascinating read. For eight months he stuck to the Old Testament, then for the last four months (plus another two weeks) he added in the New Testament.

It was a fun read, and I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their present or former religious experience.

Cooking

So my third try on the grill ended perfectly. I cooked two filets and they were pink in the middle, and yet warm. it was wonderful.

Now I'm going to have to research smoking food.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Link Dump

All right, first?

Nerd art.

You can click on each one, and it will give an explanation. Some lead to a series of pictures. This one is the one that led me to the site. It reminds me of the cell cake that I made for a final project for my biology class as a freshman in high school.

I wish I had a picture of it. I'm sure there are pictures of it somewhere (unless they washed away when Mom and Dad got flooded during their remodeling), or they're somewhere in my big bog o' pictures that I want to scan.

The only downside to the cake was that the top layer fractured into three pieces on the way to school. It survived and was wonderful, but didn't stay as pretty as I would have liked.

I remember using M&Ms and icing for the nuclear bodies.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Inception Soundtrack

All right, I' don't know whose Idea it was. Perhaps it was Christopher Nolan, or maybe Hans Zimmer. Maybe it was in the screenplay, or possibly a collaboration.

However it came about, this is one more level of a mind trip to the movie.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Painting

Among others tings, for my birthday I received a gift certificate to Reaper Miniatures. And so I was able to purchase many new figures to paint.

There's a lot that goes into the painting though.

First there's the opening of the packaging and laying them out. Each figure has to be checked for burrs and remnant sticks from the die casting process. Then bits tend to get bent, so they need to be spread out. And some have attachable pieces that need to be cut off their stands so that they can be painted and attached later.

For some, I glue a washer onto the base. Those that have a very small base need something that will lower their center of gravity so they don't fall over when (never if, always when) the table gets bumped during a game. I use Duco Cement for all of my gluing metal to metal needs. It also work really well for ceramics. I've repaired a few cups and mugs with it.

Now they get laid out in a soda case box, and primed. I've got a good can of gray that's almost out, so I'm going to have to buy a new one soon. The primer allows for a better adhesion between the colored paint and the figure. Plus it helps some of the fine details become visible as opposed to the fresh shiny metal.

And final I get to paint. But there are so many little choices. What color will the armor be? Do I need to mix my own colors, or do i have something that will work? Once I mix a color is everything covered that needs to be, and can I recreate the color for touch ups? If there is extra color, are there other figures that I can use the leftovers on?

Once the figure is completely painted, I can glue on the extra pieces like arms, shields, or birds. hen , I tend to paint a little over the glue point.

Finally, I protect the paint job with a sealant spray. This helps protect the paint job from scratches.

And then once it's dry, it's ready for use in a game or display in my miniature army.

Monday, July 26, 2010

No, the Rum is Not Gone

Saturday was entirely wonderful.

We began the celebration of my birthday at Angel Fish Japanese Restaurant in/on Alameda. We had seven of us at the time, and I was told later by people who had their backs to the wall that we had a variable staff between 2 and 4 who were constantly waiting to help us.

The fish was wonderful. Truly some of the most tender ahi, I have ever had. And the typical sushi was only the tip of what was available. One person had a gorgeous ahi salad that was a pile of various green leaves, with chucks of raw ahi, and liberally sprinkled with flying fish roe. Jennifer and I will definitely go back when we're out that end of the bay.

Then we migrated to Forbidden Island. There I was tenderly cared for by my friends. We began with a Virgin Sacrifice, a multi-serving bowl that was prepared by pouring the rum into it, and lighting it and the volcano at the center on fire. Then it was sprinkled with spices (mostly cinnamon) which sparked and flared, then it was topped off with more rum, mango juice and ice. I was in heaven. And despite what some people might say, it did not have too much cinnamon. Following the Virgin Sacrifice, I was given a Scorpion Bowl which is my favorite rum drink. This one is similar to the Virgin Sacrifice, but centers on citrus and pineapple.

An added bonus was the discovery that Forbidden Island had St. George's Spirits whiskey on hand. It's a pretty good whiskey that they age in recycled bourbon barrels. It was our first taste (because we did not get to taste it at our tour two years ago), and it's really a fun whiskey. It was fun listening to different people describe the flavors they got out of it. I just enjoyed it.

Sunday, Jennifer enjoyed in our own way, and I shed my minimal hangover headache. I've actually had worse headaches from caffeine withdrawal, so I wasn't in too bad of shape.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I May Have Made an Error in Judgement

Yesterday, I finally got it across to my supervisor just how light on work I was.

In the afternoon he sent out an email to the entire company, principals and program managers, saying that I am available for work.

Monday could be extremely interesting.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Anti-Protest

Okay, so I have yet to go to a San Diego Comic-Con. I've been very happy at Wonder-Con. Also I have not noticed the protests around the Moscone Center, but that could be my obliviousness. Or the Baptists could be more interested in protesting against the Gays and their horrible agenda.

So I had been ignoring news like this and this.

Now I remember the great flash crowd that performed their anti-protest. Their sings were awesome.

And then today, Hijinks Ensue had the following comic:


And this is as it should be. Of course, my favorite sign is the one quoting J'onn J'onzz 3:16.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Party Like It's My Birthday

This evening I discovered a new blog. But first the back story (oooh, channeling Paul Harvey).



I got a new grill about two weeks ago. Jennifer and I decided it would be my birthday present

It's a side-by-side combination of propane and charcoal, plus it has a side burner. I did a lot of research beforehand with Home Depot and Lowe's comment section. The one I had wanted turned out to to be very stainless in its steel, so I started looking elsewhere.

This one was one of the highest rated on Lowes' web page, and was very affordable. So we have retired the grill that was my Dad's first gas grill and had been given to us when he got his new one. I don't even want to think how old it is. it was wonderful to have for the time we had it, but I love my new one.



What I really like about it was the cover. Jennifer said that if it was going to be as big as it is that we needed to cover it to protect it. And the cover even has extensions for the smokestacks



Now I can grill quickly on the propane side, or use charcoal on the other side. Or even smoke on the other side if I want. Or a variety of other combinations.

But on to the new blog.

Today being my birthday, I was going to grill. Jennifer and I had visions of a seared ahi tuna on a bed of lettuce and then a filet and mashed potatoes.

But then I started re-reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. Not too far into the book the main character, Shadow, is eating his first meal after being in prison. It is pitched to him as the best chili in the state. As he's eating it, he knows it's not the best because his wife, Laura, makes the best chili around. Neil then goes on to give hints of the ingredients in the chili.

So I suddenly had a craving for chili. But not just any chili, Laura Moon's chili.

So I went to my trusty Internets, and entered the search terms "American Gods chili" and what I came up with was The Geeky Chef.

Now for me when I am scrolling down for a Neil Gaiman recipe and on the way cross a Star Trek soup recipe, and then an Earthling's attempt at a Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. I figure I'm in good hands.

Unfortunately I was hungry, and started cooking without checking all of the ingredients. So what I have made is not Laura Moon's chili, but it is very inspired by it.

And now I'm following a new blog. YAY! And all this without a plug for True Value... oops. Damn!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Roller Coaster of Activity

Friday: Nothing, just the climb before the weekend.

Saturday: Out with John to Beckett's, then Games of Berkeley, then Jupiter, and then multiple attempts to see "Inception".

We looked at the schedule, and thought it was too Long a wait to see it at the UA in Berkeley, so we got on BART and went to his place, got in his car, and went to AMC at Emery Bay. Where it was sold out. There was still plenty of time to get to El Cerrito to see it at the Rialto, but it took us 20 minutes just to get out of the parking structure. We got to the Rialto just as the previews started, but were forced to sit to the left on cowboy row.

Still, a pretty cool movie. All I can say about it is that begin paying attention the moment it starts. And while the effects are very cool, the movie itself is not effects driven like so many have been recently. It actually has a story.

Sunday: Jennifer and I had and amazing breakfast at Magoo's (cinnamon and vanilla French toast for me), then his the bead sale at JoAnn Fabrics for Jennifer's latest distraction.

The evening, I went over to my parents' for dinner for an early birthday celebration, and had some of the best corn on the cob I've had in a long time.

And today, we're back to the weekly events.

Except tomorrow should be Stage 2 of birthday festivities.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Heil!


In the past three days I have encountered as many instances of the poor use of affect/effect. It's a bad trend I have recently seen where it appears that editors are allowing spellcheck to do all of their work for them.

Causes have effects.

Escapes are effected.

Accents are effected.

Change is effected.

In general, affect is a verb and effect is a noun. The above are the exceptions.

I doubt if this will have any sort of palpable effect.

Now with that our of my system, I'm going to enjoy my desert. ;-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Business Cool

I'm not normally into the extreme gadget multi-tools.

I have my Leatherman Wave in my briefcase. I have a Sog Powerassist in my Tumi bag. I have a Leatherman Micra in my pocket.

But these? These are amazingly cool.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Friends and Links

So John and I tend to be each other's biggest blog fans. I link to something or tell him about it on YIM, or he does the same, and we'll tend to link to each other on it.

Today on Facebook, he linked here.

This is like a webcomic I read about five years ago, and if I could remember whose it was, I would go find it (the more I think about this is could be Dork Tower, but I'm not positive.). The hero of the strip is at a theatre around the time of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He overhears two kids talking about what a ripoff LotR is of Star Wars. Then one says that he has heard that there is a novelization out, and that he might pick it up.

Always remember, that in order to understand recursion, you must first understand recursion.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Worn Out

Tonight is the end of a long and yet insanely fast weekend.

Friday the last Phase I report was uploaded. We're all very happy that it is done, but we're hoping good things come from the next Phase.

Saturday was game day, and we had nearly ten hours of straight combat. We were hosed from the beginning, but it was good to have a challenge.

Sunday, Jennifer, the Sorrellians, and I went to the Mayhem Festival at the Shoreline Amphitheatre. it was my first time at that venue, and we had a great time. Jennifer got Rob Zombie's signature on her shirt, while Steve got it on his leg above a tattoo of Rob. He got it permanently inked in today. We thoroughly enjoyed In This Moment, and Five Finger Death Punch. The big fun was seeing Rob Zombie perform. He was the next to last performance, while the final performer were the band KoRn.

We left after their first song. Now all of use will tell you that Rob's lyrics don't make much sense. And apparently they don't always make sense to Rob either. But at least he seemed to be there for the fun; KoRn was just there to be seen. they were boring and had no spark. We said that Rob played with us while KoRn played at us.

Still a great time was had, but we didn't get home until midnight, and I had a health and safety meeting to attend at 7:30 this morning. I made it and stayed awake through the entire day, but I got home and took a nap. And now I'm off to bed to complete my fatigue recovery.

***

Oh, and I almost forgot. We bought a CD off of a band that was wandering the parking lot. they're performing later in the tour, and just drumming up support. Jennifer and listened to them today, and really enjoyed them. So hopefully in the future you'll be able to hear XFactor1 on the radio.

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