I decided to rearrange stuff in my house for the purpose of decluttering and generally improve my self esteem. My current project is to set up a second workstation in my computer room dedicated to audio work. I had originally thought about moving my guitar, amp, and related equipment.into the the computer room but that now seems a little tight. My current idea idea is to move my keyboard into my computer room and move "storage" type items (comic books) into my old, tiny music room (child's bedroom).
For now, I'm using my old Alienware (big, green thing, lower left) computer for audio work. Oh, the case is pretty awesome but the sound of all those fans is distracting.
On the shelf above the computer desk is a pair of M-Audio monitors. I have not tried them out yet. This is very much a work-in-progress.
Oh, and the kittens are checking things out to see whothis benefits them.]
So, the big Pandaria patch 5.04 came out for World of Warcraft. Good times!
Apparently there are a few flies in the ointment. This evening my Warlock got frozen into a "shooting" stance. I tried a bunch of things to shake her loose, but she was flat stuck.
I read a forum post that indicated that the only way to get unstuck was to die.
Turns out it's not that easy to commit suicide in WoW... at least not in a low-level region. I tried letting a beast attack me but every strike was a dodge or a miss. I tried climbing up a zeppelin tower and jumping off. The jump cost me about half my health, but by the time I'd climbed the tower to jump a second time I'd pretty much healed myself.
So here's what worked. I walked into a lake and waited to suffocate. This took a long time, but it did work. And it unfroze my "shooting stance" animation.
This guy was originally created as a "mule" to carry stuff that my other characters didn't have room for. Once all my other characters had achieved level 85 I had to go somewhere. Jump over to Dragon Age 2? Nope. Pick up with my mule and start advancing him.
BTW I did try to name him "Mule" or "TheMule" but those names had been taken. Obviously there are WoW players who are fans of Asimov's "Foundation" trilogy.
It's kind of fun playing a warrior. Just run up and hit stuff... the faster the better. He's not so great at stand-off attacks but he doesn't really need to be.
I've started using an add-in called "ActionSwap". This lets you swap out action bar configs. This is helpful if you'd like to have one set of action bars for PvE and another set for PvP. I like it! If nothing else it lets me back up my action bar configs in case I screw something up.
On the money scene my scribe continues to dominate by ROI. Being able to submit for auction a glyph at 100 gold for only 1 silver is so much more attractive that offering a 75 gold sword for 1 gold or more. Still, working the Auction House takes up a lot of time and it's not that much fun. No wonder China has slaves doing this stuff. However, when you've got a toon who needs 4000g for flight training it's nice to have the gold on hand.
I still have not joined a guild. When I'm spammed by guild invites I've taken to just ignoring them rather than declining. I hope that annoys the spammers as much as I'm annoyed by their invites.
I know I'm flogging this game for all it's worth or more but Mists of Pandaria is going to be released sometime "soon".
The Sunday before last I noticed that my Kindle was not connecting to the internet via my WAP. I investigated and YIKES! My modem was dead!
I called AT&T tech support and arranged to have a new modem overnighted to me. Since I suspected the modem's power supply might be the failing component, I ordered a new one from Amazon. In the meantime I hooked up an old DSL modem I had in my closet. It worked like a champ. I'm still using it for now actually.
When the power supply arrived I tested my modem with and, yes, my modem was alive.
So... now I have 3 functional DSL modems and am out $100+ for the new modem.
But you know... whatever it takes to be online. Am I right?
I'm making borscht tonight with the beets, potatoes and onion.
The kale will be cooked as a greens meal along with a turnip and served with cornbread. The lettuce will go into a simple salad with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrots, and celery. The peas will be a side dish to accompany some wild caught (!) salmon I picked up at the grocery this afternoon. I can use the garlic in any number of dishes.
I'm thinking the cabbage will go into a dish like Chinese-Style Cabbage. It could serve as another side for the salmon (which is enough to make 3 meals for me).
The chicken will stay in the freezer for a while. I am so behind on meat consumption. There are so many ways to use a cut-up chicken. I'm tempted to make fried chicken, although this is something I only make once or twice a year.
If you're not interested in office drama, this story will not interest you. Move along.
All names have been changed or omitted to protect... me. If you think you know who I'm talking about... you don't. This may or may not be in reference to a company of which I currently may or may not be an employee.
For the past 10 or so months I've been working on a project that was estimated to take 200 hours. It has gone way beyond that. Something in the range of 500 hours at least. I will say that I and, by extension, the company at which I may or may not be an employee, has gained technical experience that will be useful and profitable in the years to come.
The project was underestimated, yes, but the client has been given free rein to expand the scope of the project ad infinitum. I've been complaining for months now in staff meetings that the client was asking for "free" work completely outside the scope of the original specs document. I was told that I was absolutely correct, but nobody told the client. Thus the client continued to contact me (the programmer) directly to ask for free enhancements to his web site.
Finally, 2 weeks ago the client was presented with an invoice for work done. One week ago the client refused to pay claiming unmet requirements.
At long last the company owners are taking this seriously. They've told the client that his weekly meetings with me will come to an end this coming Wednesday. At the end of the meeting on Wednesday, he will be presented with (again) the invoice for the project and a second invoice for additional work requested.
I have a lot on my plate these days. It gives me great satisfaction to know that my bosses are standing behind me in this quest to stonewall a client who has been getting work for free.
My grandmother used to make a delicious and simple cucumber salad. I'm trying to duplicate that taste. Here's my latest effort.
3/4 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup vinegar
1 hot house cucumber, sliced
1 t. dried dill weed
1 T. dried parsley
Combine water and sugar and boil until sugar is dissolved (5 min. in microwave at high).
Combine remaining ingredients in a sealable glass or Pyrex container
Pour syrup into the container and mix.
Store in refrigerator for at least one day before serving.
Other recipes I've tried have been too sweet for my taste. I'm looking for a pleasant vinegar taste with just enough sugar to round off the edges. My grandmother did not, as I recall, use dill weed or parsley, but I think that will be a good addition.
The salmon filet was a surprise. Apparently it was raised in Kentucky. Who knew? I knew we produced prawns and catfish.
So, with the bulk of the produce, I have made salad (with the addition of cherry tomatoes and a cucumber) and salsa (with the addition of crushed tomatoes and jalapenos.
I had steamed the summer squash and one of the broccoli tops as a side to a salmon dinner. I should probably just chop up the other broccoli top and add it to my salad.
This time I put the strawberries into the fridge. I understand that the best flavor is to be had by leaving them out at room temperature. I've tried this, but since I'm not that huge a fan of fruits and berries, I ran into mold problems. I will enjoy these berries either with plain yogurt or sliced with cereal and milk.
I do have a major gripe with Netflix. I also have a couple of good things to say about them. First, some background.
I don't have cable TV. I have lots of DVDs, but it's a lame financial model to purchase the DVD of every movie that you think you might like. I do have a Kindle Fire and I subscribe to Amazon Prime. Amazon lets me stream a fairly good selection of movies and TV shows for free--included with my Prime subscription. There are some gaps--particularly movies that are not "mainstream" and black-and-white movies.
I decided to check out Netflix streaming. The fee of $8 a month seemed reasonable, assuming that the selection was good. I did not discover a way to preview the titles in their streaming catalog so I just bit for the 30-day free trial.
Watching a movie on Netflix streaming is a very pleasant experience. Amazon is good, but Netflix is really good. In general, the Netflix streaming just worked the way you'd want it to. Resuming a movie was seamless.
Another thing I'll say in Netflix's favor is that their recommendation of movies is actually pretty good. I know I've been frustrated by Amazon's book recommendations continuously hyping Harry Potter to me. I'm like, Thanks, I'm sure it's a quality series, but I'm just not interested! Amazon never did get the hint.
Okay, now for the slams... and they are devastating.
Netflix's streaming selection is really pretty lame. If you're only interested in well-known, mainstream movies, Netflix might suit you fine. If you're interested in quirky cult classics or even classic black-and-white titles, Netflix Streaming has little to offer.
And you know, it's not even such a problem that Netflix Streaming has a weak catalog. The bigger problem is that if they don't have what you're looking for, they suggest a pile of unrelated crap that they expect you to weed through.
Case in point: I search for "Out of the Past"--in quotes. I'm looking for a specific film noir movie. Turns out (I think) that Netflix doesn't have it available for streaming. But they don't give me a simple "Not Found" message. No, they give me 340 pages of unrelated crap including (hello) Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Do they think I'm an idiot? Do they think I'm going to pore through 340 pages of junk when I provided them with an exact title and it was not returned on the first page of search results?
Perhaps if I were willing to use their DVD-by-Mail service, the title selection would be more reasonable. Given that their streaming selection is so lame and given that their search algorithm is crap and (in my case) given that I already subscribe to Amazon Prime, I think there is little chance that I'll be sending them $8 a month for the privilege of accessing their services. I still have 3 weeks on my trial so I may yet change my mind. Yeah, right.
The chard will be a side dish that includes butter, olive oil, garlic, red onion, lemon juice, and Parmesan cheese. I've made this before and it is very yummy.
Scapes? I was told by the CSA lady that they're basically garlic greens. I plan on making a pesto with them. Apparently they also serve well in a stir fry.
The celery is loaded with leaves. I think I'll wrap it up in paper towels and preserve it for next weekend. There are all manner of one-pot recipes that could benefit from fresh celery. For the short term, I'm still eating lamb curry leftovers and there will be a few salmon dinners coming up.
Dill weed... yikes! I can put some on salmon since I'm having that regularly of late. I could make a dip with cream cheese but hey... I'm already making scape pesto. I'll just try to keep it fresh for a couple of weeks so it can grace a number of salmon meals.
I assume the shell beans will be a side dish. They look like snow peas but the shells are kinda tough..
Buffalo meat is notoriously lean. Cooks are advised to score steaks slightly at intervals to avoid having the meat curl when cooked.
I will probably eat the strawberries with plain yogurt--great as a snack or dessert.
The strawberries were eaten with plain yogurt. Very delicious as a dessert or breakfast.
The mint went into Mint Juleps. That was the idea, eh? Still got a few sprigs left.
I used some garlic chives on baked salmon. Maybe the rest will go that route, too.
I steamed the potatoes as a side to a salmon + veggie dinner.
The lamb shanks are calling me to make some kind of curry. Maybe this coming weekend.
Everything else is just screaming SALAD! I only sliced up one of the two cucumbers into the salad mix. I intend to use the second cucumber as follows: sliced cucumber, sugar, vinegar. A very delicious salad I remember from my childhood.
Thunder Over Louisville 2012 is/was tonight. I is/was not there.
I'm actually not that big a fan of fireworks spectaculars. Stretching my imagination, if I had a "special someone", attending Thunder could be a wonderful experience.
The afternoon air show... now there's something I could get my teeth into. A few years back I did go to see the air show. On my bird watcher's list I was able to check off: B-1 bomber, F-22 fighter, and (Holy Kawonga!) B-2 bomber.
Had I been so inclined, there was a perfect setup for me to view the fireworks display. My company's new offices are basically right on the river, fractions of a mile away from the Second Street Bridge, which is is the focal point of Thunder Over Louisville. The owners decided to have a party--mostly for employees but also for a few "fun" clients. They also went all out to entertain the kiddos. I'm talking about one of those inflatable castle thingies that kids can jump around in. (My dad would have done that for me. NOT. End editorial.)
Anyway, since I'm not a huge fan of firework displays, and since I don't have kids, and since I don't like to get drunk with friends and try to drive home, I elected to stay home.
The asparagus has already gone into making quiche. It's quite delicious and it will make 5 meals for me (including one meal of excess filling as the entree).
The kale, as usual, will be cooked with a couple of (non-CSA) turnips and some pork ribs and be served over cornbread. Can't be bad. The lettuce and tomatoes will be salad.
Ramps are apparently along the lines of wild onions with garlicky overtones. I don't really know since I've never had them before. I'm sure they could go into a stir-fry, but since I also need to find a use for the thyme, maybe I'll simmer a cut of beef with the ramps and thyme.
The cut-up chicken could go into any of a bazillion recipes. Gumbo or curry sounds nice.
The chicken wings would be fun to cook as uber-spicy Buffalo wings.
The salsa was a "customer appreciation" gift to those of us who stuck with Grasshoppers through their first winter of operation. I've had it before and it is most delicious. I add a healthy dose of Tabasco because that's who I am.
I think I'm going to make salads with only CSA veggies (lettuce, spinach, tomatoes) this time. Normally I would buy veggies at Meijer and combine them with my CSA goods.
The kale and turnips will (again) go into a greens-and-cornbread meal. I'm pretty sure I have some pork in the freezer that is a requisite for this dish.
As for the garlic chives, this is a stretch but I'm going to use them in a recipe with salmon. The idea is to create an Asian-type sauce for the sauteed salmon. I'm thinking along the lines of butter, olive oil, fresh ginger, oyster sauce, soy sauce, etc. It depends on what I have on-hand.
And here's a confession. I bought farm-raised salmon at Meijer this afternoon. They didn't have wild-caught salmon or tuna so it's not like I had a convenient alternative. I could have gone without or I could have had wild-caught salmon overnighted to my home at 4x the price per pound. My understanding is that farm-raised salmon is not unhealthful unless you're pregnant. (My last pregnancy test came back as "Male", so I'm good.) The problem is that farming salmon is detrimental to the environment. And, of course, farm-raised salmon is to wild-caught salmon as Tyson chicken is to free-range chicken. On the plus side the health benefits of eating salmon--even farm-raised salmon--trump any concerns about toxins in the fish. Yes, there are toxins, but the concentrations are negligible... even in farm-raised salmon!
Bottom line, given an easy choice, I will always choose wild-caught salmon over farm-raised salmon. If wild-caught salmon is not available or is out of season I might buy farm-raised salmon. One thing for sure: I'm not going to pay $30 per pound plus shipping to have a whole salmon overnighted to me from Alaska.
The kale and turnips are destined for a greens-and-cornbread dinner. Pork will be added.
The tomatoes and lettuce will go into a salad. I consider this a prompt to buy additional salad veggies: Romaine lettuce, radishes, a cucumber, and mushrooms. I already have carrots on hand. The head of Bibb lettuce in my basket is very small indeed--thus the necessity of augmenting it with organic Romaine.
I plan on cooking the corned beef with cabbage, potatoes, and carrots. It would be cool to do this on St. Patrick's Day, but I'm going to on the road at least 9 hours after a CT show in North Carolina that day. For that reason, I'll probably do the corned beef this weekend rather than next.
A baked sweet potato makes a good side dish. Just add a tablespoon of butter and some freshly ground black pepper.
Watercress? I have no experience with. Perhaps it can be added to my salad. I don't know.
I have 4 characters in World of Warcraft. I've just advanced the last of them, Megarid (Hunter), to level 85. Currently, level 85 is the maximum in WoW. Ka-chink, ka-chink, calculating.... Ah.
I can no longer work to advance the levels of my characters.
I've been working so long--something like 1.5 years--towards this state. Now I feel a bit lost.
There are certainly other things my characters can do. I've been pretty good about advancing their professional skills, but I could spend more time in that area. There are incidental goals like "obscure achievements" that I could go after.
The 2-ton gorilla in the room is the possibility of joining a Guild. How have I gone this long without testing the waters of Guild membership? Um... I'm borderline Aspie? Yeah, that's it. I do things alone, thank you very much.
But since I'm only borderline Aspie, doing stuff with other people is still a possibility. I'm pretty sure I'll take the leap and join a Guild. I can always jump right back out.
Another possibility is that I could finally get around to installing and playing Dragon Age 2 that I pre-ordered something like a year a go. It's still sitting around in shrink wrap.
Other possibilities: what if I actually used my evenings to do something productive? I could spend lots more time practicing guitar. I could get my Pro-Tools workstation operational. I could do recreational programming.
It's late. I'm tired and I'm hungry. I'll deal with this tomorrow.
The tomatoes and lettuce will go into a salad mix I'll make this weekend. The sweet potatoes--I'm not sure. Probably baked or cooked as oven fries, but I think I'll use the largest one to make a sweet potato pie.
The fresh sage could be problematic. Most recipes I've seen that call for fresh sage use only 1 or 2 tablespoons. I did find a recipe for a spread that included cream cheese and lots of fresh sage. It also called for frozen lemonade (yuck!), so I'll have to modify it a bit. With the remaining sage, I might try a recipe for sage mashed potatoes that also calls for onion and plain yogurt.
I'll cook the kale with pork and a diced turnip. I have to make cornbread to go with!
I'm not a big fan of things like pumpkin butter. Having said that, I'll take it to work along with a package of English muffins (we have a toaster). I get pretty hungry in the late afternoon so this will make a very welcome snack.
The produce content of this week's basket was a little skinny compared to previous baskets. That's okay. This is the first year that Grasshopper's is doing winter produce. And getting 5 nice tomatoes pretty much makes up for any volume shortcomings.
The tomatoes, lettuce, and carrots will go into a salad. I'll be adding Romaine lettuce, radishes, a cucumber, and fresh mushrooms.
I'll use the basil in a spinach-and-basil pesto.
Having a jar of locally-made salsa puts me in the mind of making some Mexican food. Next weekend perhaps.
The rib eye steaks go into the freezer. I seriously have to make an effort to make meals that use more meat. In that spirit I plan on using a CSA chicken to make a curry this Saturday. I'm also planning on using some CSA bratwurst for a few simple dinners.
Chicken wings give me the chance to make a really fun dish. I'm thinking hot Indian spices and chips on the side. We'll see. The bratwurst will go in buns... duh.
These are real baby carrots--not massive carrots carved up to look like skinless baby carrots. I'm considering cooking diced turnips and baby carrots with butter and a little sugar as a side dish. (I have a variety of meats in my freezer that I need to use.)
The tomatoes would be good sliced and augmented with a little mayonnaise and freshly cracked black pepper.
The salad greens will be mixed in with store-bought veggies to make a bag of salad.
But, um, wheat berries? I thought this was brown rice until I read the Grasshoppers newsletter that declared it to be wheat berries. Nothing to say but "research is required".
I finally did it. I advanced one of my characters to level 85. In the hands of a seasoned guild player, Biroc would be an awesome force. He has quite a few spells that could heal/support/enhance members of a group. Since I've always been a solo player (apart from a couple of 2-person sorties), I don't think I could live up to the role of "Healer" in a raid party.
Biroc is making some nice armor these days with his Blacksmith skill. This is a fairly good source of income although it costs a bit of gold to put a high-level item for sale at the Auction House. He can also feed my enchanter, Rima, with items to disenchant.
My Paladin carries a shield and is a very tough target in a fight. His healing spells guarantee that he'll be in the fight for a while no matter what.
Since he's achieved level 85, Biroc won't be seeing action for a while. I'll be spending my WoW time advancing my other characters.
Diabolik: Level 81 Rogue
I'm currently advancing my Rogue along the path to level 85. I find that there are some quests that are just too difficult for a Rogue (at least, with my own personal WoW skills). For instance, when tasked with the assassination of a high-level mob that spends his time flying, a Rogue has to give up her primary advantage: striking while stealthed.
Diabolik is advancing her Herbalism and Alchemy skills. She's also feeding my Scribe, Rima, with herbs for milling.
Rima: Level 80 Druid
My Rima is like the mother ship. She's been hanging out in Stormwind City catching items for auction that my other characters throw her way. Glyphs are a high-profit commodity and she has been doing a banner job of maximizing ROI. It may take a while, but after my Rogue achieves level 85, Rima will be flexing her combat muscles once again.
Megarid: Level 80 Hunter
It's been a while since Megarid has seen action. He's just chilling out and checking his mail ever few weeks. Eventually he'll be called upon to press on to level 85.
I don't think I've ever cooked a beef brisket. I will probably marinade it in the fridge in something good and then cook it very slowly in the oven. The ground beef will most likely be used for hamburgers... unless I have the opportunity to make a batch of enchiladas.
The parsnips are wild. Some of them are very tiny indeed. I believe I'll want to make a stir fry with the smaller parsnips along with one of the Daikon radishes (that I still have in the fridge from the previous pickup).
The squash, sweet potatoes, and turnips should go into a root vegetable stew. I recently roasted some winter vegetables. They were quite good that way, but with the weather turning cold, a nice, hot stew with a piece of homemade bread just sounds wonderful.
The lettuce will be added to the salad I already have in my fridge.
I'm not sure about the tomatoes. They might go into my veggie stew.
Just between you and me, I'm kind of glad I didn't get an acorn squash. Those things are a pain to peel! And the "meat" is pretty thin. Butternut squash rule!
I know I'm a latecomer as a Whovian. Be fair: I don't have cable TV. I don't have TV for that matter.
When I bought my Kindle Fire I was already a subscriber to Amazon Prime. I knew this gave me the right to view selected movies and TV shows, but I didn't pay much attention. I had plenty of entertainment available in the form of MST3K (and related) DVDs. Being an owner of a Fire gave me the incentive to poke around the list of free content at Amazon. I found that...
...The first four seasons of Dr. Who where available to me without additional cost.
I had a Christmas vacation, I did. What to do? Let's watch some Dr. Who.
I've always thought that the quality of British television far exceeds that of 99% of the American crap. Nevertheless, I remembered the original Dr. Who series as being mostly boring (in spite of the charming characters). The new Dr. Who has quality on every level. The writing, characters, acting, editing, and special effects are all top drawer. Even when there's not a lot of "action", there is suspense and clever dialogue. An American series would probably just splice in a bunch of explosions.
I used to enjoy watching The X-Files when it was broadcast. The characters were compelling and the suspense in each episode was tense. What it lacked was any kind of over-arching story line. There were too many loose ends. I'm pretty sure that the writers had no clue where the series should go.
The story line of Dr. Who, on the other hand, seems to be guided by a confident hand. Viewers can be confident that teasers dropped in one episode will eventually come to fruition.
So, yeah. That's my admittedly "stratospheric" impression of the new Dr. Who.
I guess it had to happen sooner or later. Last night as I was preparing to watch an episode of Dr. Who streamed from Amazon, I accidentally clicked on a link that instantly purchased a license for said episode. I was blind-sided because I knew that I had the right to stream the episode by virtue of my $79-per-year subscription to Amazon Prime. To me, it didn't make any sense that Amazon would offer to let me watch a show for $1.99 when I had already paid for the privilege of watching it.
What really frustrated me though were my fruitless efforts to back out of my mistake. With most 1-Click purchases, you can cancel the order for any reason prior to the order being shipped. It turns out that 1-click purchases of digital media are irreversible. I find this policy absurd and indefensible. I spent maybe 20 minutes poking around on Amazon's web site trying to find a usable "Contact Us" page. There were plenty of FAQs and Help pages, but their contact information was very well hidden. I finally discovered a usable page via Google search.
Amazon did reverse the charge after warning me that 1-Click purchases of digital media are non-refundable.
I like the convenience of 1-Click purchasing, especially when shopping on a Kindle or my Droid. I always assumed that I had a safety net if I accidentally clicked a purchase link. Now that I know this is not true, I've disabled 1-Click on all devices. Curiously, the "Buy now with 1-Click" buttons still appear.