Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Five Years

Whoops. Missed my five year weblogging anniversary. I started out on with the URL, then moved to my local ISP using Greymatter, and lately using various incarnations of Movable Type.

Anyway, my first post was this, now archived at the current site. Dated October 4, 2000. I may not post as diligently any more, but it's still a source of occasional amusement.

Traditional Holiday Fare

So I came home early today to prepare dishes in advance of the holiday. I like to flaunt tradition, although I could be said to be creating my own. Once again I made tofu chili. This is one hell of a tasty dish, and it's a shame not to make it more often. I also made a pumpkin pie, though I'm not planning on eating any until tomorrow (when I'll whip up fresh whipped cream as well).

Tomorrow Jean will make fresh cranberry sauce and turkey. No, I'm not planning on losing weight anytime soon.

Ooh! Next recipe I wanna try from the Best Recipe baking book, probably for Christmas dinner: sweet potato pie!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Guitar Hero

After NOVA, a crowd of us headed over to Tom's house. He hooked up his PS2, and Alan broke out his new copy of Guitar Hero. This is a rhythm game like Bust a Groove, but instead of using the regular controller, you use a 3/4 scale guitar-shaped controller.

Just about everybody there took a turn, including me (even though I sucked so bad at Bust a Groove that I bought myself a shirt that says "More Rhythm!", one of the taunts that game shoots at you when you miss too many beats). I was one of only two people who 'failed', trying to play along with Deep Purple's "Smoke on the Water". Alan, Valeska, Tom, all played at the Easy level, and then Chris stepped up and immediately chose Medium. Of course. He's a DDR fanatic.

Years ago, as I hinted, I bought a copy of Bust a Groove, and played it even though I sucked. Then my wife started playing it, and man was she good! So I'm thinking that we need to buy a copy of Guitar Hero for Christmas. Just so I can watch her work her magic. We'll just have to see...

Magna Maxima Carta

Turns out I'm not the only one interested in Magna Carta. I sat down at NOVA Saturday, when Alan walked in. I mentioned that I was getting Magna Carta for a stocking stuffer, and he acted excited. "Where did you get it? Do they have more?" Turns out Gamestop is sold out. So I told him Fry's had them, and in fact that they were carrying the collector's edition, and had plenty on Friday.

Then in walked Tom. Alan mentioned that he wanted to go to Fry's to buy Magna Carta. Tom said "I bought it this morning." Bing! So the three of us piled into Tom's car and drove down to Fry's so that Alan could buy his own copy. Did they have any? They had plenty. It's so pleasant to have young, single engineers as friends. While we were there, Alan saw a box for Guitar Hero, and after only a moment's internal debate, he grabbed that too. More on that in a later post.

So anyway, I'm not the only RPG fan around.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Magna Carta

A little birdy tells me I'm getting Magna Carta for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it. Play magazine rates it very highly, and the description of the play mechanics makes it seem right up my alley. I love my RPGs.

The only catch is the somewhat unfortunate character design for Reith, who looks like an Asian Jane Mansfield. Once again I'll have to divert from play to explain why "that lady has such large breasts." Oh well, once we get over that obstacle, I'll be able to sink a few dozen hours into gameplay!

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Friday the Thirteenth Come on a Sunday This Month!

I managed to get to the very end of the day without realizing that it was the thirteenth. The title is a reference to Pogo, the classic Walt Kelly comic strip, which I read as a kid in the Sunday funnies. His character Churchy La Femme would fearfully exclaim that it was Friday the Thirteenth, just appearing on the wrong day. So this should have been a day of bad luck, especially after the week's bad vibes at work, right? Well, apparently not.

Jean is still fighting a cold, and is probably on the early side of the curve, if she's following my pattern at all. I'm still hacking up random guck, but feeling much more energy. So we pushed Renee to set up a play date on her own, and I ended up taking her and her friend Emily to see Chicken Little, in 3-D, no less. The 3-D registration was generally pretty good, though there were the occasional fuzzy moments I've come to expect even from modern efforts. Not really headache inducing, so I feel I'm ahead of the game. The movie itself was inconsequential, and I expect to have forgotten all about it in about three ... two ... one ... what was I talking about?

This evening Renee and I worked together to make our first ever lasagna. We started with a recipe from the America's Test Kitchen folk, but modified it to suit our tastes. We used two kinds of cheese and pork. We would have used three kinds of cheese, but in the hustle and the bustle, I clean forgot about the tub of ricotta in the refrigerator. So I guess that's my bit of bad luck from the thirteenth!

What's the verdict? It is quite delicious. Now if I can just remember what the actual cheeses we used were. Romano and something else. Renee sort of shredded the wrappers when she was shredding the cheese.

Friday, November 11, 2005


Renee and I attended a free performance of the Portland Baroque Orchestra at my workplace Thursday night. I had asked her if she wanted to go and she made a mildly interested sound, but Jean tells me that she spent most of the day picking out her clothes and making references to the concert. I don't think she knew what to expect, since the only orchestral music she's seen has been full symphony music. The PBO performed with one flute, two violins, one oboe, one bassoon, one bass cello and one violoncello piccolo (sort of a tenor cello with five strings).

We arrived early, found seats in the gym, and chatted and goofed around until the performance started. The program was A Musical Offering, by J. S. Bach. This is a series of canons around a theme provided to Bach by Frederick II, then king of Prussia. Each canon is a variation on the original theme, and usually also a musical puzzle. As my friend Burr observed, the puzzles in canons are often mathematical exercises, and as a result, of interest only to the professional musician. But Bach was a musical genius, and could make these exercises beautiful to listen to as well as mathematically gratifying.

Renee listened with real appreciation for the first twenty minutes or so. Then she began resting her head on my shoulder, then leaning on me and holding my arm. Affectionate, but in those crappy folding chairs, my back was beginning to ache. I finally asked her if she wanted something to do while listening to the music, and handed her my Palm Pilot. She played Bejewelled, and I listened to the remainder of the concert.

I have no formal musical training, and make no pretense toward classical knowledge. I just let the music wash over me, and this evening was totally hypnotic. I was trancing out much of the time, entering a musical, mathematical meditative state. It was great fun. Renee assures me that she enjoyed the music very much as well.

After the concert there was a buffet. Corporate finger food. I made sure to stack my plate with raw vegetables and fruit, but also had a couple of mini sandwiches. Renee was not so discerning. I went there mostly for her, since I know that she enjoys these little buffets almost as much as the events. While there I ran into Alaine Warfield, who used to work in the same company, and whom I went to grad school with. She's offered to help network with my friends who were laid off, so I'm feeling a little better about that.

More interesting is that she's done tons of volunteer work with animals, and she gave Renee lots of advice on things she could do to get experience with animal care. Renee, at age ten, has many years to choose a career, but one of the things she's expressed interest in is veterinary medicine. So we've begun offering to take her to volunteer opportunities so that she can get a feel for the experience. Last summer she helped at the local no-kill cat shelter, but they were reorganizing, and it sort of tapered off. So maybe we'll be able to use one of Alaine's leads next...

Cold Rounds

So Jean is coming down with a cold now. It's an entirely different prodrome from mine, but she insists it's the same virus, just a different variety. I said it's the same variety, just a different flavor!

Anyway, day fourteen and counting for me, but I'm feeling a lot better. If the full-blown cold, raging at force ten, happened around ten days ago, I'm probably suffering from mild gusts of wind now, around force three. If I don't relapse, I hope to begin working out at the gym on Monday or Wednesday. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, November 8, 2005


It would be unprofessional to go into detail, so I'll just say that yesterday there was some 'rebalancing' at work, and a couple folk I've worked with a while now are looking for jobs. I didn't sleep much last night, it's always stressful when the ax falls, even if it misses you. Considering I have been nursing a cold for the last week, I expect I'll have another sniffle soon. Pooh.