Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Time has gotten away from me again.

I havent had it in me to continue this blog untill now, perhapse because the cirumstances the led to its creation no longer exist or perhapse becasue i felt i had little to talk about, but mostly i think it was simply the result of not having a computer for some weeks durring the move, and , as they say, "out of sight, out of mind." And as I dont want to stress myself on this brief forray back into the blogger universe, I am going lite this morning, No spell checking, no links, no complications. just a quote from an author who has spoken to my heart:

Ursula K. Le Guin

Socrates said, "The misuse of language induces evil in the soul." He wasn't talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Finished with a phase

Wow. So much has happened since I posted last its hard to know where to begin, But I'll try nonetheless. Well, Rebecca and I started moving slowly, a truck load at a time as we had to return to Riverside for paperwork etc. This week we ramped things up because we have to be out of the apartment by the 1st. We rented a Moving Van loaded all the furniture and a bunch of boxes on thursday. Then yesterday we finished the move with John's Pickup truck. Its nice to be free of that place. Although my footing still doesn't feel solid yet, I am more happy here than I have been in months past.

In the middle of all that we had a week long vacation with my adoptive family in the beautiful Yosemite Valley. Every year the vacation is different and interesting, Over the years i've learned to keep myself apart from the majority of the drama. This year Williams wayward sister, Julie, flew in from Massachusetts with her 3 kids, accompanied by her faithful pet/friend and her son. Now, I don't normally like to verbally bash people but I will say that most of the camp was sick of listening to Julie yell at her children. Aside from some campground yelling, it was a nice trip. Rebecca and I babysat the very cute 8-year-old Spencer on a 6-7 mile hike up the Mist trail to Nevada Falls. I was dead tired that night, and my calves hurt for about 3 days afterward, but it was nice to know that I'm not completely out of shape. (on that note we start our gym membership on the 1st and I'm excited.) I made sure Becky got to see as many waterfalls as she wanted, i think that made her happy. Both of us were quite happy with the vacation and are now contemplating monthly hiking trips and various REI purchases.

Today we start the long process of unpacking all the boxes, washing all the laundry, and finding places for our belongings that once filled a whole apartment. We also need to look into finding a real bed, my back isn't happy with the futon today...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Cleaning, Moving, Organizing, Crazy!

The title says most of it for me. The last two weeks have been a whirlwind. Not only are we busy moving form Riverside to Kingsburg (a trip of 4 hours each way) but we are having to d-clutter and re-decorate John and Debbie's home room by room before we can finish moving in our stuff. Thus far, we have cleaned the kitchen, the dining room, the overflow office, and turned the original clutter-filled Office into a Guest bedroom. We have produced 10 boxes of books that have no home. We have selected 4 tables, 2 exercise bikes, and 15 boxes of 'stuff' for the eventual Yard Sale of Doom.

It is time however to take a short break from that. Not only to catch up on little things like building this blog and hopefully getting some readers who will comment on my ramblings, but also to take our first summer vacation. Today we are driving to visit William's parents house and then tomorrow continuing on to the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park. I am very excited about getting a chance (and a reason) to use my 35mm SLR again. AS you may have noticed this post is picture free, that is not because i'm trying to make some statement, i just cant find our digital camera in all this mess. But i will make sure i get some this weekend even if i have to buy a dispo-camera...

Saturday, June 13, 2009


On my way home last night we drove past the big Barnes & Noble at the mall an I made Becky pull off the freeway for a detour... .

Ever since I started the "The-Happy-Panda" I've wanted to get a book that would tell me how to do all the things I couldn't figure out how to do. I looked at several books that were written specifically about blogs; however, most seemed to focus on the simpler tasks that I have already fumbled through, or on something I intend to avoid, like advertising. The next heap of texts I peered into were the jargon filled dusty mega-tomes that litter so many computer engineer's desks and contain hundreds of pages. I'm not quite ready for that yet. Just as Becky was glancing at me with the "are you done yet look," I found Mike McGrath's "HTML in easy steps". The first thing that set this book apart from the others was color. Full, wonderful, illustrated color. This might not sound like much, but when the different portions of code can be color coded with the explanations of that code, things make sense a lot faster. The second thing that made me buy this particular book was that it is relatively short, only 192 pages. So, trusty book in hand we headed home.

I spent half the night going through the first two chapters, a total of 7 lessons that covered things like page titles, favicons, page descriptions and keywords etc. I already understand far more of that pesky "edit HTML" page than I ever have before. And I have lots of lessons yet to come.

I'm not going to sugar coat this for you though, there have already been some downsides to choosing a small simple book. First off, it assumes the reader is using a Windows based PC, which I am not. (That proved troublesome until I explored the TextEdit help page.) The book only touches on css and javascript, which are covered in more detail in his other books.

Nevertheless, I am thus far very pleased with my purchase. Not only did I find a book that suited my needs for only $15, but I am teaching myself a valuable skill that is simultaneously self-gratifying, and valuable on the job market. Between posting here and the Books lessons I'm learning quite fast. For example, I had to learn about character entities just to post that title...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bargain Shopping

You know, eventualy, I plan to make this blog much more than a simple list of the things i do to fill my time, but at the moment, filling my boredom is a staggering prospect. I can't finish packing yet, we still need to live in our apartment for another 2 weeks or so. I'm not in school. I don't have a job. I dont have any friends here (in fact, this list is also the reasons we are moving). Thankfully, Becky finished her project early yesterday and she agreed to go shopping with me.

I've been wanting to take a trip to the Gotshalks
going out of buisnesssale for weeks now, but i've held back. Now that the sale is 60-80% off I decided to go, and did we ever score! The prize winning bargain as far as I am concerned was this pillow. I'm picky when it comes to pillows. I find most of them to be much to puffy. I purchased this jewel for $12. It is a king size, down-filled slice of heaven. I slept better last night than I have in ages. Now all I need is a larger pillow case...
Ever the clever gift buyer, i got my mother a KitchenAid baker's bowl set (bowl, spatula, whisk, measuring cups and spoons) for $10, and stick blender with food processor attachments for $25.

Meanwhile, Becky found this skirt and a nice pair
of soft denim jeans for $25 each. Altogether we spent just shy of a hundred bucks and got some very nice things. I must admit, that i will miss the Store being around though, it was one of the few places i could find shirts that were somewhere in between the gangster-tagger-teen crap that is so popular in men's fashion right now, and "grandpa goes golfing" styles you get at higher end department stores. But hey, there is always the internet...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Homemade Bread?

We are back in Riverside, Ca for 10 days. Becky has finals and I am here to help her and keep her in good spirits while she franticly finished papers and projects. To fill the time I dug out an old cookbook and decided to try my hand at baking bread.

I First tried to make a whole wheat parmesan bread. It was too tough, overworked it. My second attempt tasted better but semi exploded in the oven. It split and doubled in size again while cooking. The third was a nice Challah loaf. It tasted great and had nice color and texture, but the shape was still quite funny. It made quite good french toast this morning, and I froze the other 1/2 for later.

Tonight's Honey Wheat Pizza Dough was my first true success!
I used 1/2 wheat flour and half all purpose it was very tasty and not too sweet like some honey doughs are. I also used regular dry yeast instead of quick-rise and let it have a good hour and a half before I took it out to make the crusts. And although the recipe says this should make one 14inch crust, I made two 17x11 crusts out of it. (we like thin crust). Pizza night may just have to become a weekly staple on the menu i am working on, but more on that tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Cherry Jam

I remember how much I used to love the fresh jams and jellies my great-Grandmother used to make for me when I was a child. So, having picked myself a bunch of fresh tasty cherries, I decided to try my hand at making and canning my own jam. Here is a list of the tools and ingredients used:
4 half-pint Mason jars w/ lids and rings
2 bowls
1 very large pot
1 3-quart sauce pot
1 vegetable steamer basket
1 wooden spoon
1 small ladle
1 parring knife
a bunch of clean tea towels
4 lbs cherries
1 lemon
1 box no sugar required pectin
2C sugar
2T Ascorbic Acid (aka Vitamin C)

The first step was to pit and chop the cherries. I pitted them with a parring knife and my fingers. It was fun at first but took a long time. (Afterward I went and bought a Cherry/olive pitter tool for about $6. Made things much faster). I got about 6cups halved and pitted cherries out of my 4lbs.

Next the Cherries went into Debbie's old food processor with the juice of one lemon and the preservative. I pulsed it about 5 or 6 times to get a rough chop on all the cherri
es which came to about 4cups after chopping. They then went into the sauce pot with the pectin and about 1/4c of the sugar. I started cooking them over medium/high and when they boiled i added the other 1 3/4 cups sugar and brought it back to a boil. At this stage though i found that i had headed the mixture too fast after adding the sugar and the mixture had begun to burn on the bottom of the pan!

So, I now had a pot of slightly burned cherry jam ready to be canned. I decided to go ahead with the canning just for the practice. Taking one jar at a time from the dishwasher (i used the dishwasher's steralize and heated dry to clean and keep them hot). I filled the jar with jam, leaving 1/4 inch headspace as per the recipie, cleaned any drips and put the lids and rings on. Then the jar went into the giant pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. When all the jars had been filled and boiled i pulled them out and placed them on a clean towel to cool off.

They look so pretty, and even though I burned the jam a bit, it still tastes good enough to use. All four of my jars have stayed perfectly vacuum sealed, so at least I did the preserving part right, I just need to practice making the jam.