Mug cake in the morning

February 1, 2014

Okay, I picked up this ‘Mug Cake’ stuff in the supermarket a week ago, and decided to make one for breakfast and commemorate the process for you in pictures. Sorry for the focus issues in some of the pics; they looked reasonably good on the iPhone at 8am!


Most of the needed ingredients and equipment.20140201-193013.jpg

A close-up on my mug of choice; a Nanowrimo cafe mug, of course! Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Thankful Thursday!

June 6, 2013

I came across this little weekly blogfest recently, run by Just the Stuff Ya Know, and felt I had to join in. So, what am I thankful for this week?

I’m thankful for the great opportunities I have in my life and my writing, like going away to Odyssey in… 3 days, actually more like 2 and a half now.

I’m thankful for a job where I’m treated well and get paid doing things that I enjoy.

I’m thankful for the rain, even though I’m not a big fan of singing in it, and for the sunny days when they come back again.

I’m thankful for air conditioning when it gets too hot, not that I’ve needed them this week.

I’m thankful for my family, and I know that I’ll miss them this summer.

I’m thankful for all the amazing books available on; I spent a little while this evening trying to pick some new ones for the trip, and ended up with eight novels in my shopping cart checkout! 😉

I’m thankful for bacon! I haven’t been having much bacon lately with my diet, but I did pick up a pack a while back and froze most of it, and then realized that I needed to use it up before I left town. So I made a bacon tomato sauce last weekend, and I’ve been enjoying that with my pasta. It’s almost done, though there’s one helping that I can take into the office for lunch.

Let’s see… I’m grateful for smartphone GPS apps even when they don’t quite work perfectly, and for old-fashioned print maps that come free from the nice people at CAA.

I’m thankful for all the music that I love, and for tools that let me write my own ways to organize it all.

What are you thankful for today?

Playing around with song ratings

June 3, 2013

With less than a week now until I leave for Odyssey, I’ve been spending some time working on something… well, it was on my ‘get ready for Odyssey’ list, but it probably isn’t as critical as a few other items on that list. I’ve spent quite a few hours over the past few days playing around with my MP3 collection and tweaking the filing of my songs. 🙂

I generally keep my MP3 files in a two level folder hierarchy. The first level is the basic rating, from 1 to 12, or ‘stage’ if I haven’t rated the song yet. The second level has to do with where I got the MP3, so ‘homerip’ if I ripped it from a CD, ‘record’ if I captured it on the MP3 boombox, (from a cassette tape or vinyl album, say,) or the name of the online music service I bought it from, like napster, emusic, or itunes. I switched from puretracks code to trackspure code when started selling DRM-free MP3 music, and I have a catch-all code of ‘purloin’ for… well, for music that I picked up here and there online without paying for it. (And that accounts for a small slice of the collection by now.)

So, what I’ve been doing with this has been tweaking the rating of individual songs up and down, to help me figure out what music I’m taking to New Hampshire and how. Among other tweaks, I’m looking at any songs that I have multiple versions of and trying to pick which cut I like best. As a general rule, anything other than the best copy can’t expect to get a higher rating than a seven.

On one level, spending a lot of time on this feels foolish, but we all need some foolishness in our lives. I know I do.

I got my new glasses today…

May 27, 2013

…for about five minutes. 🙂 They were so shiny and so clean, a little disorienting like new glasses always are, but I really liked having them on.

And then I gave them back so that the store can measure the frames for custom clip-on sunglasses that I didn’t tell them until today I wanted, because I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about sunglasses when I ordered the new glasses.

The sunglasses are supposed to be ready in a week, and then I’ll pick them up with the new glasses. Sigh. Why does everything to do with glasses take so long? 😉

Dreaming of research

May 22, 2013

I had a rather odd sleep last night; not really bad, I didn’t wake up exhausted or with a headache or anything. But it seems that I spent several hours either dreaming or dozing about Christopher Columbus and questions about early European exploration of the USA. It was critically important, for some reason, to find out if Columbus had ever set foot on what’s currently the lower 48, if he’d met natives there, and if not, who were the first (post-Columbian) ocean voyagers from across the Atlantic to do so. I didn’t come up with any good answers in my dreams, though I do remember wondering about ‘The Amerigo guy.’

On waking up, I was able to do some research on the internet, but it seems that there aren’t any clear answers there either. Columbus pretty definitely never reached what is now the American mainland north of Central America; he got kinda close to Florida but didn’t reach it. I’ve come across an interesting pool of  early explorers:

Yikes! Messed up a date here at first… reshuffling the contenders.

John Cabot: Cabot landed somewhere in Canada in 1497 and sailed along the coast of New England in 1498, but as far as I can tell he didn’t come ashore in New England or further south.

Amerigo Vespucci: Vespucci’s travels were mostly in the Caribbean and South America, around 1499-1501. I’ve seen a few vague references that Vespucci may have gone to Florida at some time, but can’t find specific details.

Juan Ponce de León: After serving as navigator for Columbus, Ponce de León definitely landed in Florida in 1513. (He also came up with the name.)

Giovanni da Verrazzano: Sailed along quite a lot of the United States’ Atlantic coast, from the northern tip of Florida to Rhode Island, where he came ashore and met natives in 1524.

Henry Hudson: A surprise to me; I knew about Hudson from his Northwest Passage explorations in Canada, (including discovering Hudson’s Bay,) but I didn’t know that the Hudson river in New York state was named for the same guy. After several other expeditions for trade routes and passages in different directions, Hudson and his crew reached Maine and traded with natives in 1609.

So it looks like Juan Ponce de León is the solid answer to my question. Cool. 😉

A day to rest

May 20, 2013

Whoops! This post was supposed to go live on Saturday morning,  but I guess I managed to just save it in draft mode instead. So I’ll include the post as written, and then add some end-of-long-weekend wrap-up at the bottom.

I’ve been thinking about rest quite a lot since I went to church with my family last Sunday. I don’t go to church often, but Mom had decided to get baptized at the church she goes to now, and the date the pastor picked for the baptism fell on Mother’s day, and she asked the family to come, so who could say no to that? 😉

Anyway, the sermon was about the fourth commandment and keeping the Sabbath, and I started to think about that in a secular way. I tend to live my life at a fairly breakneck pace lately, juggling a nine to five-ish day job and all kinds of creative goals in my spare time, not to mention a writing Odyssey coming up that looks like twelve hours of studying and writing seven days a week for six weeks.

I’m not sure that taking a day off from work and writing every week is the right answer for me, but I think I’ve come to realize that slowing down and letting my batteries recharge is something I need to do again, especially in the next three weeks. And I had this odd notion of turning ‘Sabbath’ from a noun into a verb; something that I do for a few hours here or an afternoon there, as a way of blocking out time and not being tempted to ‘put that time to good use’ with a writing course or a programming project or something else. Of course, that brings up the question of whether working on coding or brainstorming story ideas might be a good Sabbath activity, something that will let me have fun and recharge instead of building up stress and exhaustion.

I’ve sabbathed a bit over the past week, catching up on some television and vegging out around the apartment. Today I’ve got big Sabbath holiday weekend plans; my mom and I are going to drive up to Stayner to spend the day with my sister’s family at their usual campgrounds. That’s always good Sabbathing.

What do you do, or not do, when you need to take time to rest?

So, I had a great day up in Stayner; played some games with my sister and nieces, drove my brother-in-law over to the store to get the dinner supplies, and got some good driving practice in.

The rest of the weekend was a lot quieter, and pretty restful. I’ve done plenty of walking, and enjoyed some TV marathons. But I’ve also been working on a few things; finishing lesson 4 and starting lesson 5 for ‘How to Think Sideways’, starting my textbook reading for Odyssey, and adapting an expense tracker for my Mom’s new Blackberry. 🙂

Air Conditioner day comes early!

May 16, 2013

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the awkward things about my apartment is that it heats up really quickly in the summer. I’ve got a good window air conditioner in the kitchen, and I keep it in there year round, because the windows make it a pain to take it out and back in with the changing of the seasons. But because being exposed to the winter weather is a bit tough on an AC unit, I get Don, my ‘Air Conditioner guy’ to come and give it a cleaning and a checkup every May before I fire it up.

I really like having an AC guy. 😉

It wasn’t really easy to figure out when I should call Don this year. We had a bit of a heat wave in early May, hot enough that I turned off the gas pilot light, and then a sharp cold snap this weekend, with overnight frost. But the cold weather had definitely passed by yesterday, so I gave Don a ring.

I thought I was going to have to work from home tomorrow morning, but he left me a voice mail this morning asking about this evening, and I was able to rearrange my schedule. Hopefully I’ll have cold air before I go to bed tonight! And a good thing too. My kitchen was up at 27C by the time I’d finished washing up the dishes. Not incredibly hot, but not exactly comfy either.

May the Fourth be With uth All

May 4, 2013

Happy Star Wars day everybody! (And yeah, I know that’s not an original joke in the title, but I couldn’t resist. 🙂 )

I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but the original trilogy was part of my childhood. I wasn’t anywhere near old enough to see the first movie in the theater when it first came out, but I got to see it pretty soon, probably on a VCR, specially rented for somebody’s sleep-over birthday party. A boy on a moisture farm buying some droids, Luke flying through a trench in the Death Star, going to a swamp planet to find a legendary Jedi master, Han and Leia recruiting the Ewoks to help them shut down a force field, I loved it all. Surprisingly, there were a few blank spots in my memory at the beginning of “Empire Strikes Back” until recently.

I remember reading some of the Star Wars paperback novels when I was in middle school, particularly the Jedi Academy trilogy with Luke recruiting his own Jedi students. They weren’t my favorite books ever, but I did enjoy reading them.

I’ve got a different perspective on ‘the prequel trilogy’ from most people. I haven’t watched any of those movies straight through, though I’ve seen bits of all three… particularly the end of Attack of the Clones. 😉 But before I’d seen any of them, really, I read the novelizations through, and from what I’ve heard I think that the story-telling actually hangs together better that way than in the movies. Which doesn’t say that much for George Lucas, actually, that other writers could clean up his mess and make it more coherent even when they didn’t have the visual medium to work with.

I’m grateful that Star Wars inspired me enough to serve as the primary fandom of my main characters when I wrote my fandom romantic comedy screenplay, ‘Geek at Heart.’ And I’m curious about what the new Disney movies will be like.

Day off, nothing but north.

March 29, 2013

It’s been a little while since I’ve done a full hour of walking at once. This afternoon, I made the time to walk what I used to call the ‘Nothing but North’ route. I often did this when I was first starting to get serious about exercise and losing weight, back in… was it the summer of 2007? (Wow, can hardly believe that it’s been that many years.) I remember setting off in the evenings, with headphones and a music or audiobook player; at first I was building up my endurance, pushing myself to go further up Parkdale avenue, north from my apartment, then turning around and back home. Finally I stopped pushing myself when I could get all the way to Burlington street and back; 5.4 kilometers, or nearly three and a half miles.

These days, I more often cover that distance in my car, because that’s the way I head to work and back, in a matter of minutes. But walking it is satisfying in a different way.

I got some other cool stuff accomplished on my day off; cooked up some chicken stew that I’m going to combine with mashed potatoes tomorrow. I finally got around to decorating the blasting rod for my Harry Dresden cosplay outfit with viking fire runes. And I went down to visit my Mom; helped her with some stuff for her new Blackberry phone, got the new leather thong for my shield bracelet measured, and we went out to Kelsey’s for steak dinner.

If you’ll pardon the pun, it was definitely a good Friday.

Possibly my most enthusiastic feedback ever!

March 28, 2013

It’s a pity you don’t have a donate button! I’d without a doubt donate to this brilliant blog! I suppose for now i’ll settle for bookmarking and adding your RSS feed to my Google account.
I look forward to brand new updates and will talk about this blog with
my Facebook group. Talk soon!

Too bad it’s from an obvious spammer, sigh. 🙂

In a related off-topic rant, Gmail is pissing me off just a little. Not only do they appear to be dead-set to ram their tiny ‘New Compose Window’ down my throat, even though I really don’t like trying to organize an email in such a small space, but when I tried to send them feedback, their ‘Send Feedback’ window was so freakin’ huge that I couldn’t see or find the SEND button on my netbook. I managed to send it off by clicking on some text and then hitting the Enter key, but that’s not really a good user experience, Google guys.


I understand that you’re excited about rolling out new toys, and that it makes support harder if the users have hundreds of different interface choices, but I like the Old Compose Window!

My ISP is doing the same thing with their webmail – they got rid of the nice, simple, quick, easy to use mail interface and replaced it with some complex monstrosity that’s trying too hard to look like Outlook and requires Java. Sigh. At least I can simply access my ISP email through my iPhone.

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