8:58 pm, Monday, May 5th, 2008

Haven’t felt like blogging lately. Dunno why I’ve been dreading it; it’s not like it’s hard. Constructing sound arguments in Nomic is way harder. Speaking of which, that’s an awesome game. I’d love to play a five-person game of it in real life. But I don’t think it’d be easy to come up with that many willing players. Most of my friends seem to dislike the rules-lawyering aspect of games and Nomic is nothing but rules-lawyering. Plus you have to read and write a lot which aren’t some folks’ fortes. But online MeFiNomic is still lots of fun.

Anyway, here’re some dinners I made in the past week:

Steak, baked potato, salad, Diet Squirt  Meatball subs  Chicken cordon bleu, quesadillas, salad  Steak, baked potato, broccoli

Left to right: New York strip steak, loaded baked potato, and salad; meatball subs with especially fresh mozzarella; chicken cordon bleu, salad, and Jarlsberg quesdilla; New York strip steak, loaded baked potato, broccoli.

My mom’s formerly-pregnant Weimaraner, Maui, had her puppies last month. On tax day, actually. Three boys. Here’s a small photo:

Maui and her puppies

In case you’re not familiar with purebred/show dog stuff, they usually have fancy AKC-registered names that only show up in pedigrees and show paperwork. Like, my dog’s full name is “Ch. Amsburg’s Made-U-Look,” but we just call her Looker. And these names are frequently part of a “litter theme,” like spies, Beach Boys songs, wines, etc. So, in honor of April 15th, my mom went with a financial theme. Brett and I made suggestions and she used ‘em! So these puppies are Grayhaven’s Qualified Dividends (mine), Preferred Stock (Brett’s), and Capital Gains. Cool, huh?

More progress on the house: The drywall is up! It’s all in the “Construction of House in West Pasco” Flickr set, as usual. And here’s some other stuff I recently uploaded:

  • Clover Island/April 2008 — Jones and I went out by Clover Island to help Heather photograph the Cable Bridge. (Well, we mostly just sat around and talked while she did antiquated-camera stuff.)
  • London/June 2002 — Thirty photos from a family vacation.
  • X-ray pics — Radiographs Jones and I did after a lengthy re-calibration of the DR plate.

I got a pair of these Injinji tetratsoks (in “sand”) to wear with my FiveFingers. They’re awesome. I want to get some more, but $12 is a little much for a pair of socks. I looked into other brands of toe socks, but most are similarly priced. There are good deals to be had on tabis, but that’s not what I’m looking for.

Picked up a couple new games in the Tri-Cities: Bohnanza and Alhambra: The Dice Game. Bohnanza (the game of German bean-farming!) is fairly fun, but I don’t have a great grip on the strategy yet. I think you could roughly describe it as a combination of the Catan trading system and rummy without runs.

Alhambra: The Dice Game is better IMHO, though it takes slightly longer to play than I’d prefer (~70-80 minutes). The closest mainstream analogue is probably Yahtzee, but I think it’s unfair to compare it to something so simple. There’s a variant that lets you combine it with regular Alhambra, but we haven’t tried that yet.

What else? Jones, Amanda, Logan, and I went bowling one night. I stunk up the joint with a 79 and an 85. Jones’s high score was 129. The music they played in the alley was really good; The Immigrant Song, Billie Jean, etc.

Jones and I saw Baby Mama while I was there too. I really loved it. Quick and funny, like 30 Rock. The only thing I didn’t like about it was Dax Shepard (the guy that played Carl). He irritates me for some reason. Maybe it’s because I strongly associate him with Idiocracy and Employee of the Month. Steve Martin, OTOH, was fantastic. So many quotable lines — Jones and I were throwing them back and forth a lot the next day. “I’m going to reward you with five minutes of uninterrupted eye contact.”

On Friday, Jones suggested we go see Iron Man together even though we were 134 miles apart — idea being that we could discuss it over the phone afterwards. This would’ve worked great except that I live in Pullman and the theater was swarmed by students — by 6:00 PM all the showings had already sold out. So I ended up seeing it on Sunday. I liked it. Wasn’t crazy about the primary villain, but I liked Downey and Paltrow. Complaints: The Burger King endorsement was over the top. (What’s the first thing you want after being held captive by terrorists for three months? A Whopper, of course!) Also, the post-credits Samuel L. Jackson scene was retarded.

Alright, later. Gotta pick up Mario Kart Wii.



11:20 am, Friday, April 25th, 2008

Yet more progress on the house: The HVAC stuff has been installed, a bunch of wiring has been run (phone, coax, CAT5), the breaker box is in, the water lines are pressurized, and the roof has been shingled. It’s all in the Flickr set of course, but here’s a sample:

Roof shingled, compressor/condenser installed

Food stuff from the past couple days: We made a big salad for Top Chef night (AKA Wednesday). Made our own croutons and bacon-bits, ran some super-hard parmesan through the new microplane grater. It was very good.

Salad with cottage cheese

I bought a silicone muffin tin at Ace Hardware, so Thursday morning I made lemon poppyseed muffins. The first batch was extra large and had blueberries in ‘em. The second batch were mini-muffins sans berries. They were quite tasty. Some things I learned: You do have to grease the tin, even if it’s silicone, and any batter smears will turn into acrid, carbonized flakes (I’ll use a redneck pastry bag to fill next time instead of a spoon).

Big blueberry muffins    Mini lemon poppyseed muffins

For lunch yesterday Brett and I went to the Mongolian Barbecue Express in Moscow. It was good (and reasonably priced), but some of my zuchinni and onions came out a little undercooked. For dinner we ordered Papa John’s, which we hadn’t done in ages. I’d forgotten how good their buffalo wings are.

Have you seen the early Eee PC 900 reviews? I’m drooling over it.

Here’s a neat blog post about unusual aquatic creatures (with lots of pictures).

And a funny exchange from our ongoing MeFiNo game:

Also, why does gerryblog hate me and exclude me from his list? Absolutely outrageous.
Submitted by 1 on Wed, 04/23/2008 – 16:51.#

1: Well, the official reason is that you were a suspended player for having missed a previous vote. But the secret reason is that I *do* hate you, and always have…
Submitted by gerryblog on Wed, 04/23/2008 – 18:08.#

Have you heard Jonathan Coulton’s Baby Got Back cover? (Here’s the 9.43 MB MP3 if you wanna download it. That’s Creative Commons/Attribution-Noncommercial licensed BTW, so it’s okay for me to host it.) Hanwool and I are huge fans. I happened to hear it on Gabe’s April 18th Penny Arcade TV episode.

You know what else is pretty good? The Flobots’ Handlebars.

Hey, here are some pics of Hanwool at his sailing class.

Okay, I gotta go. I’m driving to the Tri-Cities as soon as I shower and pack.



11:07 am, Wednesday, April 23rd, 2008

I’m back from working at the Lewiston dog show. It was worse than last year on account of the cold and snow. Snow in April! Ridiculous. Anyway, Mr. Damberg is a good boss; we got free lunch every day at noon, hot chocolate or coffee at ten, and he reimbursed me for all my gas expenses. A couple pics:

Snow at the Lewiston dog show    Lewiston, ID city lights panorama

The first one is of the snow we got, the second is a panorama I took from the scenic overlook at 4:50 AM on the 21st with an extended exposure.

News on the house: They got the roof on! The skylight’s even in place. Looks like they’re going to be tarpapering and shingling soon. I think all the plumbing hookups are in place now too. Everything’s in the Flickr set, but here’re a couple highlights:

Back of house with roof    Plumbing in master bath

This Killbots picture by darkpony is pretty awesome (and CC-licensed!):

Killbots Want Peace Too

I figured out the name of those almond/granola bars I liked so much (cf. #938) — Nature Valley Sweet & Salty Nut Granola Bars, Almond. And Amazon has 7.8 lbs. of ‘em for $33 with free shipping (if you use super saver). Keen. Mine’ll be here on the 28th.

Some YouTubery I’ve enjoyed lately:

Your word of the day is: Callipygian. Try to use it at least once in conversation.

I’m going to shower and get some Subway.



11:12 pm, Tuesday, April 15th, 2008

I had Subway for lunch today. I’ve been taking advantage of their “$5 Footlongs” deal a lot lately. Sweet onion chicken teriyaki with lettuce, spinach, cucumber, and black pepper. Yum. The Pullman Subway is especially awesome cuz it has Vault in the soda fountain. Only downside is that there’s always a line, even at 10 pm on a weeknight.

Subway sweet onion chicken teriyaki sandwich with Cheetos

Also, filed my taxes today (yes, I’m even lazier than Peter). I had to track down my 1098-T form at French Ad and register with Franklin Templeton to get their 1099-DIV. The other 1099-DIV and 1099-INT actually made it through the mail successfully. Much math and quadruple-checking ensued. A spreadsheet was created. I figured out my bottom line (well, my seventh-to-last line) with both the “tuition and fees deduction” (8917) and “lifetime learning credit” (8863) — the 8917 was worth a whopping $600 more.

2007 Tax Return

Check out the 6×9″ clasp envelope. Pretty snazzy, right? It required an additional 17¢ in postage, but the forms look so much cleaner when they’re folded in half instead of thirds. Totally worth it. BTW, did you know the tuition and fees deduction will cease to exist in tax year 2008?

Brett got a bunch of these pastilles from Amazon. I’m wild about the rose-flavored ones. The others aren’t so great — the violet tastes like strong old lady perfume and the orange blossom tastes like musty tea bags.

I had to buy a ream of paper at ShopKo so I could run off those PDFs. While I was there, I got a file box and 100 folders (with three tab positions!). Spent a couple hours sorting out the (poorly managed) contents of my falling-apart accordion file and piles of envelopes whilst listening to string quartet renditions of Panic at the Disco songs. Good times. All my (post-November 2005) paperwork is in perfect order now.

Time for bed. I’m working parking at the Lewiston dog show this weekend (like last year), so I need to adjust to waking up at 4:30 am.



2:13 am, Monday, April 14th, 2008

I expelled some tonsilloliths today. Very gross. Lots of gagging and phlegm. I hate my tonsils; they have too many crypts (more than normal, I think) and I blame them for the three strep throat infections I’ve had (dunno if that’s accurate, but I do). I took a picture ’cause objects that come out of your head tend to be interesting in spite of their nastiness.

Tonsilloliths from my tonsils

Okay, now I have some food pics… What? Still skeeved out by my tonsil stones? Pff, baby. Alright, I’ll talk about some other stuff for a minute.

The construction of my house on Oliver Drive seems to be going well. There’s, like, a sliding glass door in the back now. And the tub and shower units have been delivered to the site. Just check out that bay window. Pretty sweet, right?

Tub and shower units in garage    Back of house, bay window

Lots more high-res house porn in the Flickr set.

Have you ever wanted to know what the number one song was the day you were born? Now you can with Josh Hosler’s #1 Song on This Date in History! (Thanks, MeFi.) For me and Brett (our birthdays are really close), it’s Eye of the Tiger by Survivor. For my sister, it’s Madonna’s Like a Virgin. (Haha, mine’s better.)

This is kind of embarrassing, but I bought a pair of Crocs a couple weeks ago. See, there was this Slickdeals deal for a $10 discount and free shipping and 10% off for new customers and 10% cashback via FatWallet (phew!) and my Birkenstock sandals had finally fallen apart completely. I love my FiveFingers, but I need something I can slip on fast in the mornings when I take Looker out. (She’s 14 and her bowel control isn’t what it used to be. She has to be up the stairs and on the grass within 45 seconds of waking up.)

Anyway, the model I got (the Cayman in sage) is great. Very comfortable, so long as your feet are dry when you put them on. The weather was so amazing today (above 60° for the first time in forever!) that I took a walk around the neighborhood — 1.3 miles according to Google Earth’s Ruler(Path) — and the shoes (sandals? clogs?) held up really well. No chafing or pinching like you might expect with rubber footwear. The bumpy texture of the insole is weirdly pleasant.

Okay, food. We made chicken salad sandwiches last night. The Safeway had been mauled (probably because it’s WSU’s “Mom’s Weekend”) and there weren’t any rotisserie chickens left so we made do with the cold, fried stuff (we didn’t want to cook anything). The red seedless grapes had been wiped out too so we went with black seedless. They were okay; didn’t quite have the same crispness. The sandwiches were good, but a bit richer than usual. Later on I made brownies with this recipe. I was pleased with ‘em; perfect levels of chocolatiness and moisture, but not quite as chewy as I wanted. Pics:

Chicken salad sandwich    Brownie closeup

FFT:WotL update: Level 49 ninja now; the summoner class is awesome. The Limberry assassins slaughtered me the first time I went up against them, so I’m trying to level up my support characters before I go back there. I’ve found a strategy that works pretty well for building JP after you’ve exhausted your Errands options: Equip two characters with the Fundaments skillset, go to Mandalia Plain, kill all but one monster, then just sit there and use Focus over and over again while the chocobo with 30 HP left ineffectively pecks at your tough fighter types. (It helps to disable your Counter abilities.) If you have an Orator, use Mimic Darlavon to put the last monster to sleep.

Alright, that’s all for now. Gonna check the MeFiNo Drupal and hit the hay.



11:41 pm, Friday, April 11th, 2008

There’s been tons of progress on the house. In less than two days it went from bare foundation to floors, walls, some siding, and windows. New photos are at the end of the Flickr set.

Yesterday Brett and I went to Tokyo Seoul for sushi. Actually, I’m not totally sure they’re called Tokyo Seoul anymore… the menu covers say Blue Sun Cafe, but I think that was the name of the previous restaurant to occupy that building. Anyway, it was extremely good. They’d added a lot of new things to their menu since we last ate there, like “white maguro” (a euphemism for escolar, my favorite variety of fish for nigiri). Some pics:

Sushi Boat at Blue Sun Cafe    Sushi closeup - escolar, salmon

You can’t quite tell from the photos, but the thing they served the nigiri on was a big wooden boat. The red snapper was kinda meh, but the escolar, yellowtail, and sweet shrimp were fantastic. We also had caterpillar and “super tempura” rolls. Oh, and James the chef sent over complimentary edamame and deep-fried shrimp heads.

BTW I forgot I’d been saving up these food pics from February when I wasn’t blogging much:

Pistachio-crust salmon with white asparagus    Lasagna with shallots    Pork cabbage casserole

Big club sandwich

Left to right: Salmon with pistachio-dill crust and white asparagus; lasagna with shallots; pork sausage and cabbage casserole with mozzarella, white asparagus, and onions; big club sandwich (ham, roast beef, sundried tomato spread, lettuce, bacon, provolone, havarti).

I’m glad the NBC Thursday night lineup is back. Earl‘s gotten kinda blah and Scrubs has been less than great for a while now, but I’m loving Office and 30 Rock. Best line last night: “Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate! Aaaack!” Is there any clichéd dialogue Tina Fey can’t sell?

Still playing Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions. My main character’s a level 38 ninja and I’m in chapter IV. I’m thinking about changing my black mage into a time mage after I pick up the death spell (Blizzaja has been pretty sweet). Only bad thing with that is that he’s a really good chemist and I’m afraid I’ll need two guys throwing X-potions and phoenix downs in later battles.

Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions party roster

How awesome is it that Zoi got kicked off Top Chef? Good riddance.