Archive for April, 2008

#941

9:40 pm, Monday, April 7th, 2008

Okay, so here’s how last night’s dinner came out:

Penne al pesto and salmon pinwheel with fetta and spinach

The sauce was extremely good. We didn’t have much basil (about an ounce, I think) and since we’d boiled a whole pound of (dry) mezze penne, we really needed to stretch the sauce. So we made a pistachio pesto and thoroughly mixed that into a pint of Mornay (built from a butter roux, heavy cream, and parmesan) right before before serving to keep the basil’s flavor from getting cooked out. And I tossed the penne with a teensy bit of extra virgin olive oil to keep it from sucking up too much sauce.

So the pasta itself could’ve been a meal. Which was fortunate, because those salmon pinwheels sucked. The filling (feta and spinach) was okay, but the fish was very poor quality. They must not make those on site, cuz the other salmon fillets I’ve bought there have been excellent.

I went to McDonald’s for lunch today and the girl at the window had this nose piercing that must’ve been done pretty recently. The skin was all inflamed around the stud. Really gross. I think nose piercings in general are pretty nasty; especially the ones that go through the septum. This girl had hers through a nostril, but still: Eugh. I don’t mind the labret and eyebrow piercings (on other people, mind you), but the nose ones just scream “low class” to me for some reason. (Edit: Except for Paige, who’s cool enough that they work for her.) Same thing with those cylinder/plug things some people wear to stretch out their earlobes.

Still playing FFT:WotL. My main character (“Nwabudike,” after the CEO from Alpha Centauri) is now a level 12 monk, though I’m thinking about turning him into a geomancer (to get to ninja) after I pick up the Brawler ability. I talked to Jones about the game a bit today. We both agree that it’s much harder than FFTA. The cutscenes are amazing though.

Oh, and I finally watched The Golden Compass today. It was better than I thought it’d be. Surprisingly violent. The big battle at the end (featuring hundreds of witches swooping down from the sky, ranks of slavic wolf-demon guards, an armored polar bear, and a wild west sniper/aeronaut) was pretty cool.

#940

9:46 pm, Sunday, April 6th, 2008

Wow, the first weekend of the IMBC sure is a killer, huh? One out on Friday, three more on Saturday. Only 68% of the original competitors remain.

That chicken/orzo salad thing I made last night turned out pretty good. Nice and light with lots of different textures. Kinda wish I’d gone heavier on the almonds and sesame seeds, but oh well. Here’s a photo:

Orzo/chicken salad

I dug out my long-negelected PSP today and loaded up some freshly-downloaded ISOs/CSOs. Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions ran fine (and I ended up playing it for 2h:59m, according to the save file), but Patapon hung at the loading screen. Of course, it turned out my custom firmware was tremendously out of date; I was surprised to find no one even uses “open edition” CFW anymore. So I had to scrap my 3.40 oe Revision A. What I needed was 3.90 M33-3. But it wasn’t that easy.

It’s way harder to hack a PSP than a DS. Can you even brick a DS? If you can, it’s an exceedingly rare hazard. Not so with the PSP. Malicious firmware distributions aside, there’s several parts of the update process where you can brick your console by simply disconnecting the power cord, hitting the wrong button, or failing to reboot. It’s kind of scary to do this stuff without a UPS, what with Pullman’s not-so-infrequent power dropouts.

Anyway, I had to go from 3.40oeA to 3.52 M33 to 3.52 M33-4 to 3.90 M33-3. Thank goodness for Dark Alex and eXophase! Now I’ve got Patapon running like it’s sposed to. Echochrome (which is apparently entirely English-language, despite being a Japanese release) also works. Both seem really hard, but I’ve only played ten minutes of each. Some pics:

352 M33 PSP update    PSP ISOs    Echochrome on the PSP

Boy, 1 GB is not enough space for this stuff. I need to upgrade one of these days. The 8 GB Pro Duos are only about $90… a 16 GB would be nice, but they cost more than a PSP!

Okay, gotta make dinner. Salmon and penne al pesto tonight.

#939

11:25 pm, Saturday, April 5th, 2008

Brett and I just got back from the grocery store. We got some salmon pinwheels, basil, and mezze penne for dinner tomorrow night (planning a creamy pistachio pesto for the pasta). For tonight’s dinner, we got some stuff that I’m going to use to re-create a dish my mom showed me while I was in Pasco. Her version of it goes like this: Orzo, chicken, bell peppers (close to raw), snap peas, spicy Thai peanut sauce, toasted almond slivers, cilantro. It’s really good hot and even better cold, IMO. My version will replace the cilantro and snap peas with julienned cucumber, sesame seeds, mozzarella cubes, and alfalfa sprouts. Also, I’m going to toss in some of this sweet sesame dressing I found with the peanut sauce.

BTW, every notice the ridiculous markup on sesame seeds in the “ethnic foods” aisle? A tiny bottle of ‘em (~1.6 oz.) was $1.69 at Safeway. That’s like $16.90 per pound. Fifteen feet away, in the bulk dry food tubs, you can get them for $1.99 per pound. Apparently something about sticking sesame seeds in a plastic bottle makes them worth 8.5x as much.

Played online Blokus today. It’s pretty neat, but kind of buggy. (I saw someone make an illegal move in one match–placing a piece edge-to-edge with its own color–and the game actually allowed it.) Also, since there’s no karma system like in online Ticket to Ride, people tend to quit early if things aren’t going their way (which sucks tremendously if they’re in the corner opposite you). Here’s a screenshot from a game I played earlier:

Online Blokus game

We were going to attend an Arlo Guthrie concert in Seattle today, but Brett got very sick last night and travel seemed like a bad idea since we’re five hours from there. Really sucks because the tickets he bought weren’t exactly cheap and he’d been looking forward to this thing for months.

Okay, gotta go finish this orientalish orzo-chicken salad. Brett just finished boiling the pasta.

#938

5:39 pm, Friday, April 4th, 2008

Justin posed this question on his blog today:

If you could choose the manner and circumstances of your own death, what would it be?

It’s kind of weird because just yesterday, as I was driving to Pullman, listening to Barenaked Ladies on my iPod, I was thinking how great it would be if I could somehow arrange to hear Everything Had Changed just before I died. Ideally with my consciousness faltering and dissipating in the last twenty seconds or so. Maybe I’ll get lucky and hallucinate it if/when the time comes.

Regarding his question, I have no firm preferences at this time. Except maybe that it be in such a way that I get to see it coming and so that it’s fairly quiet (for me, anyway; it could be noisy so long as I’ve somehow become deaf by then).

TotD:

Candy

I’m not all that wild about candy; I generally prefer savory things. I’d gladly take an ounce of medium-rare ribeye over a pound of M&Ms. But I do occasionally indulge in candy. Usually it’s of the gummi variety. Raisinets are good too. Recently I’ve been getting these almond bars when we do snack runs from Adventures Underground. They’re really good but I can’t remember what they’re called; only that their packaging is green and gold and they cost fifty-nine cents apiece. The bottom of ‘em is dipped in this stuff that’s almost like white chocolate, but it’s not. Anyway, I like those. I think they’re marketed as “health bars” or something like that, be we all know it’s really candy.

Speaking of gaming at Adventures Underground, it occurred to me that we’ve been neglecting conventional (i.e. typically American) boardgames. I’m going to see if I can wedge Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit into our rotation.

#937

2:40 am, Thursday, April 3rd, 2008

Today I assembled this rolling file cabinet/cart thing so a new Brother laser printer and some files could have a home. It took forever. It’s the first piece of office furniture I’ve assembled that actually required the use of dowels and wood glue. I pleaded with the salesgirl at Staples to sell me the floor model, but she wouldn’t. And after that injustice she had the audacity to pimp their extended warranty for $29.99. Feh. So building ensued. Here’s the finished product:

Mobile file cabinet/printer cart from Staples

This was taken in my parents’ living room, hence all the Weimaraner trophies in the background.

Also spent a lot of time today reading Scott Adams’ Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!, which is sort of a treasury of his best blog posts. It’s really good. The chapters average something like 2.8 pages in length, so I find myself repeatedly thinking, “I should go do that thing, but maybe just one more chapter since they’re so short…” And poof — three hours wasted. I think reading it on the Kindle makes the timesink more deceptive too; you’re not really aware of the real quantity of pages you’ve gone through and it takes less effort than a book (easier to hold, no page-turning).

This bit really resonated with me since I’ve moved a lot in the past three years (Seattle, Federal Way, Pullman) and will be doing it again (Pasco) quite soon:

Have you ever noticed that you can’t remember how painful it is to move to a new home until you are actually doing it? I mean, conceptually you know it will be “hard,” but you never fully appreciate the fact that your entire soul will be water-boarded for about four days. At some point during the middle of the process you start thinking, “I will never move again until I die and other people have to carry me.” But a few months later, the memory of the horror fades.

How true!

What’s today’s topic? Housework? Hm. Well, I started watching this BBC America show on my parents’ DVR called How Clean is Your House?. If you’re not familiar, it’s this show where these two British ladies storm into someone’s home, say all sorts of horrible things about how filthy the inhabitants are and how they should be ashamed, then proceed to clean their house for them. Along the way they give cleaning tips and talk about the health risks associated with living in squalor. In small, infrequent doses it’s pretty good.

It’s kind of sick how watching other people clean can make you feel like you did something. This Old House does the same thing. Or is that just me? I find the feeling’s especially strong when they do masonry or tile… after watching Tom Silva cut and lay tile I usually feel like I deserve a refreshing drink.

Anyway, housework. Two things have made housework way, way easier for me: A bagless vacuum and a dishwasher. Man, I love my dishwasher. It was my birthday present last year. My new house will come with one, but I’m going to keep my old one too (it’s a portable-island model, so there’s no installation necessary). As long as I stay on top of things, we’ll never have to leave dishes in the sink or put them away — we can just alternate machines; one for clean dishes, one for dirty. Well, I dunno, we’ll see how that works out in practice.

Here’s a cleaning tip I learned the hard way: Don’t use steel wool on porcelain (e.g. toilets). It leaves weird gray marks that you can’t get out.

(Huh, when I sat down to do this entry I was worried about not having enough to write about.)

Okay, that’s all for now. Busy day tomorrow: Got some computer work to finish up then I’m driving back to Pullman. Need to track down some more Handel on the Law podcasts for the trip.

#936

3:44 am, Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

So Jones and I did some gaming at Adventures Underground again tonight. Tuesday is Chess Club day. Those folks seem a little dull. Didn’t talk much. What’s the point of playing chess in person if you’re not going to chat during the game? Why not just play it online?

Anyway, we started to pull out Mwahahaha! but sort of hit a wall when I declared I wouldn’t be serving my usual role as designated-rules-explainer. One look at the forty-page rulebook and I knew I didn’t have the patience or focus for that. Not tonight. No one else seemed to either, so we played Kill the Hippies. Mechanics-wise, not a bad game. But kind of offensive in general. Not really something I’d want to play with new acquaintances… one card, for example, requires you to discard a number of cards based on how long it’s been since you were physically intimate with someone. But that’s a minor issue compared to the horribly written rules. They don’t even tell you how to lay out the hippie cards — you have to infer it from the text on other cards!

We also played a few games of Blokus. Interesting thing about Blokus: It makes you hate your friends. Okay, not really, but it does get a little frustrating to play even when you’re doing fairly well. Maybe it’s because it really forces you into direct confrontation with the other players. And the ever-shrinking open space creates this sense of desperation. It’s like being on a sinking boat in piranha-infested waters with three other people and you’re all constantly trying to climb on top each other to avoid getting et.

We were going to play Manhattan too, but Logan’s (rightly) afraid to play with me. I dominate that game. Twice we’ve played matches where my point marker’s gone off the scoring track. That is, I ruled so awesomely that the game could no longer adequately measure my brilliance on a scale of one to eighty.

In other news, I signed a change order to have a gas range installed in my new house. Originally, I was just going to use the default electric and have gas lines run so I could upgrade in the future. But the construction company changed their policy this past weekend and made it “official” and way more expensive (since I could no longer deal with the contractor directly). The upside of that was that it gave me a good excuse to change my appliance package. Since the lines would have then run $525, it made the $850 range install downright reasonable — I’d effectively be getting a $550 range for $325. I’m pretty psyched about being able to cook with gas. Can’t wait till June.

TotD (French): I love French. If you want to sound pompous, say it in French! That’s why so much cooking terminology is French: Chefs are ultra-pompous. “Au contraire,” you say, “France was the birthplace of many culinary techniques…” But that’s just a story made up to justify the pomposity. Je ne sais pas, quelle que soit.