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.

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