dr_tectonic: (Default)
So I last posted a week and a half ago and didn't even mention that the evening before we has Cris & Steve and Brandon & Gene over. We played Wise & Otherwise, and a round of 7 Wonders, and a few of the Jackbox games, and a good time was had by all.

Then last Saturday we went to Mary's for food and socialization along with Kate, Sarah, and Mary's nephew. We played a round of Citadels and one of Ticket to Ride. Mary made a bunch of tasty dishes and Sarah cooked a turkey breast and it was all excellent.

On Sunday afternoon we went to Tim & Stacy's, but we couldn't stay too long because my parents came into town to drop off a car for Leslie. We had dinner with them and Dave & Michelle (et al) at Cheddar's. Mom & Larry spent the night in our guest room and took off early the next day. I was planning to work from home because a big snowstorm was forecast, but it didn't accumulate on the roads, so I ended up going in to the office after all. Oh, and I remembered that it would be a smart idea to sweep dead leaves off the patio and clean out the gutters before the first big snow! So I felt all adult about getting that done on Sunday afternoon.

I made up for it by staying home on Wednesday after my dentist appointment. I had the other half of my deep cleaning, plus got a cracked filling replaced, and the after-effects of the anesthetic just knocked me on my ass. I actually napped for a couple hours after I got home. Felt human enough to go to my Board meeting that evening, which featured a very long group discussion with the Chief of Police, which was heartening (especially given how unpleasant the news is all the time these days). There's always room for improvement, but the impression I got is that things are generally on the right track and if there are any changes wanting to be made, they're small matters of implementation, not big course changes. (I should mention that if I ever post about the Inclusivity Board online, I am of course just presenting my own personal opinion, not speaking on behalf of the board. So there's your obligatory disclaimer.)

Went to Games Night at Chris's on Thursday, and otherwise there's not much else been going on. We did nothing at all social this weekend, just grocery shopping and chores. Didn't get all the things on my list done, but dealt with a bunch of them, including a number of "oh I need to remember to do that" items. I made low-carb jambalaya (substituting grated cauliflower for rice), which turned out pretty tasty. I also opened up a can of tomato paste and portioned the whole thing out into little 1 tablespoon dollops that I froze, instead of using a couple tablespoons and having the rest of it go bad in the fridge! So that feels like an accomplishment. Oh, and last weekend Mom brought a shoebox of tomatoes. I sliced up a couple of them and at them raw, and then made shakshouka out of the rest of them to use them up before they spoiled.

I got all of my tedious chores at work done (typing up QC details to hand off to my student, quarterly report for one of the grants, answering emails that require long essays to respond to properly) and was able to get a good start on building out the last chunk of my analysis framework, so I ended both this week and last feeling pretty good about my progress. Which is good, since I suspect that before I know it it'll be time to start prepping for presentation at conferences, and I'll need to have some results to actually prepare...
dr_tectonic: (füd)
I'm annoyed with myself for having low productivity at work and yet also staying late. The problem is that I'm working on a project (tallying up formatting fixes to hand off to my student) that is tedious and chore-like, requires attention to detail, and involves a number of steps that take several minutes for the computer to crunch through. So once I get step five out of eleventy running I go off to do something else while I'm waiting, except it can't be anything that requires thought or I'll lose track of what I'm doing, so I dink around on Facebook or play a little game or something and then when it's time to switch back I've lost all my momentum and have to re-motivate myself. Oh, and half the time when I get one step further in the whole process, I find a new thing to fix and then I need to start all over again to make sure I'm not missing anything.

So I came home this evening feeling all antsy and decided to try cooking something new to see if that would help. I think it did.

I got a full set of TIME-LIFE "Foods of the World" books from my Mom, and now and again I pull one out to skim through at bedtime. The Middle Eastern Cooking book has a Turkish recipe for chicken with walnut sauce which looked intriguing, so I thought I'd give that a try. (I also threw together a batch of mustardy coleslaw while I was waiting for the stock to cook down using a recipe I improvised a few weeks ago and liked enough to write down.) The chicken turned out well, and I think I will make it again. It's tasty, different, pretty simple to make, and not overly carb-tastic. I think it'd make a good potluck dish.

Circassian Chicken )


Mustardy Coleslaw )
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This morning I went to the dentist and got a deep cleaning on the left half of my mouth. Which is what I get for having skipped going to the dentist for about a decade. (Happily, before then I started flossing daily, because I discovered that the tape-style dental floss actually fits between my cramped teeth, so I don't have any cavities or anything.) It wasn't all that bad, honestly, except that one of the anesthetics they use has epinephrine in it as a vasodilator, and it gets into my system and makes me all anxious during the procedure and then I have a big come-down afterwards. Ugh.

It's honestly kind of a toss-up as to whether it was better or worse than the early start for the departmental retreat on Monday & Tuesday of last week. Because "show up at Chautauqua at 7:45 to start at 8" means leaving the house by 7 to ensure I'm there on time, which means getting up at 5 to be actually functional enough to drive by then, and 5 am is a very unpleasant time to be awake. (And my brain still wasn't fully booted up until about 10 both days.) But aside from that, I think it was a pretty good retreat and we got useful organizational things done. Certainly it was more useful than some such events I've been to. Along with fairly standard things like "proactively incubate opportunities" and "plan a tech adoption strategy", one interesting goal that emerged was "appreciate day-to-day accomplishments," which I think is a really healthy thing for an organization to want to do. As I pointed out when we were discussing it, Jerry and I have gotten into the habit of thanking one another for doing household chores, and I think that actively noticing and appreciating one another's contributions -- even (especially!) when they're the things each of us does all the time and is expected to deal with -- does a whole awful lot for building domestic harmony.

What else. Went to Trevor's on Saturday afternoon to play games. We played a co-ompetitive superhero game called "Heroes Wanted", which was a very weird combination of silly random character design with super-crunchy action-management gameplay. I managed to get a deeply sub-optimal character build and got trounced. Had a good time visiting and gaming, but I don't think I would recommend the game.

The weekend before that I had a nice visit with Grandma. Otherwise the last two weekends have been just a lot of downtime, which is a nice change of pace.

And we had Jonathan over for dinner (peanut-broccoli-tofu stirfry) and games (Mystery of the Abbey plus some trying out the VR system) on the Tuesday before that, which was lovely and delightful. Yay for small-scale socializing!

Ratatouille

Oct. 1st, 2017 03:09 pm
dr_tectonic: (füd)
At the (last of the season) farmer's market yesterday, I picked up a bag of red peppers and little yellow UFO squash and mini eggplants and big ripe tomatoes and thought, how convenient! I think I have the ingredients for ratatouille here and they're all in season at the same time-- oh right.

Because of course ratatouille is one of those dishes that was clearly born of somebody trying to deal with an overabundant garden. (Like making pesto to use up all the basil.) If you survey a bunch of different recipes, as I am wont to do, you can easily see the bones of the ur-recipe, which is just to chop up all the veggies you have too much of and saute them together with whatever herbs you typically use for everything, et voila, it's dinner.

So that's what I did, except I didn't feel like standing at the stove forever, so I roasted them instead. At 350, in two batches of two baking sheets each, since I had so much. (4-6 of each of the main veggies, plus three small onions.) All indications are that it is going to be excellent. (It's in the fridge waiting to be dinner later, but everyone agrees it's much better the next day anyway.)

I'm not sure exactly how long I cooked everything; I think a key technique is to open the oven every five minutes to check progress and, more importantly, let all the steam out. That way the veggies actually start to brown. So just do that until they start to look done.
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Miss Manners (who is a very insightful observer of human culture) notes that getting married involves three entirely separable components. There's the legal piece of entering into a lawful union, which is all about filling out whatever paperwork is required by your jurisdiction properly. There's the religious piece of partaking in the rite of holy matrimony, which, if you do it, is between you and your church. And then there's the social piece of having a wedding, which is providing an opportunity for your community to come together to celebrate your marriage. This is why the wedding reception is a big deal.

Also, it's a party! Hopefully a good party.

So after the wedding proper was done, we segued immediately into the reception. There was no recessional, since it was all happening right there, so instead we made a big announcement about what would happen when, since we were sufficiently off-script that it would be foolish to expect the guests to operate on their default assumptions.

We started off with group photos. Neither of us wanted to hire a photographer to take an unending series of glamour shots of all possible permutations of the bridal party, but it's nice to get pictures of various family groups when they're all in one place (and TEPs always self-organize a big "family photo" at weddings anyway), so we decided that we'd do a small number of big group photos of the different branches of our friends and family, and that way we'd get pictures of all our wedding guests, too! So one for TEPs & other MIT folks, one for all the bears, one for each side of our families, and so on. We gave Kevin the grooman task of organizing the photos, but he also brought his camera and took a bunch of pictures, too, which was terribly kind. He very sensibly suggested that we bring a ladder, since it's easier to get big group pictures from a little bit of a height.

The sensible time to do pictures is right after the ceremony, because that's when everyone is already there and still looking their best, but we also didn't want to bore people with waiting, so we had the event services folks start serving snacks and beverages right away.

Speaking of refreshments, we were really impressed with the spread that the Event Services people put out. Our input was actually pretty limited; Nancy gave us a number of options to pick from, and we just said "we want the smoked salmon platter, of course," (because that's a thing they regularly do at receptions, and it's very nice) "and then how about the cheese platter, the veggie crudites, and something with pickles and olives and stuff like that." That's literally as detailed as it got. And what we actually got was, like, manchego with fig jam and capocolla with whole grain mustard and sliced pork terrine and marinated mushrooms all kinds of amazing things like that. So that was pretty nice.

As for drinks, we got water and lemonade and iced tea as part of the catering, and then Jerry went to the liquor store at the bottom of the hill and ordered a bunch of wine and beer and cider based on their recommendations. (Per the venue rules, we weren't allowed to serve hard liquor or mixed drinks, so we didn't spend a bajillion moneys on that, oh darn.) We got enough for everybody to have like 3 or 4 drinks over the course of the afternoon, and we ended up returning about a third of it unopened for a refund. Score!

So anyway, after lots of yelling loudly to get different groups of people to all come scrunch together for pictures, we did a receiving line. Traditionally, you have a receiving line because you have a bunch of guests going from the church where the wedding was to some other location where the reception is being held, and a big line forms as the hosts of the event (the bride's family) welcome all the guests individually, because that's the polite thing to do. This is one of the areas where we went off-script and the default setup didn't really make sense, because we hosted it ourselves, and there was no arriving. But we decided to have a receiving line anyway, because from a practical standpoint, the other advantage of the receiving line is that it's the only guaranteed point when the guests are guaranteed to be able to say hello to the happy couple.

So what we did was picked a spot (standing on the grass, in the shade) to stand for about an hour and a half and told people this was when they got to come say hello to us. That might seem like a long time, but 200 adult guests x 30 seconds each = an hour and 40 minutes. So yeah. But, since we wanted our guests to have more of a good time than standing in a line for an hour, we told them to have at the refreshments while they were waiting and to head over whenever the line was short and just to enjoy themselves otherwise. This worked brilliantly. The two of us spent the time saying "omigod it's so good to see you we're so glad you were able to come!" over and over, but everybody else got to mingle and catch up with friends. Hooray! We tasked Jason H. with bringing us some smoked salmon and nibbly things and with keeping us continually supplied with water, which was another piece of Very Good Advice we were given. We would have died of dehydration otherwise.

Many many hugs and greetings later, we threw flowers. And by "threw" I mean "launched from a catapult"...
dr_tectonic: (füd)
I'm working on a post about the wedding reception, but I did a bunch of cooking this weekend.

Yesterday, after some weapons training in the morning, I got over to the Westminster Farmer's Market (72nd & Sheridan) and discovered that they have a stand from a farm that will let you fill a big bag with whatever produce you want for $10. AND that they take cash, check, or credit card! Hooray for little credit card readers that plug into a smartphone! (I only wish I'd thought to ask before I spent 15 minutes looking for the phantom 7-11 across the street that supposedly one had a credit union ATM in it but no longer exists.) That plus regular grocery shopping netted me a bunch of things to cook.

I got a bunch of mini eggplants, which I roasted and turned into traditional Romanian eggplant salad (salata de vinete, I guess?). It's more of a puree or dip. Unusual flavor profile. Tasty, but not sure it's worth the substantial amount of work involved. It might want less flavorful olive oil than I used.

I also got a bunch of little cucumbers, which I did the Indian treatment of (since it's quick and easy) and we took them and the eggplant dip to Tim's birthday party this afternoon. We helped put together a table for their backyard, and spent a long time blowing bubbles for the dogs to chase and eat. (Their pitbull would have chased them until she keeled over. So cute!)

I was thinking about doing something with the tomatoes, but instead I've just been eating them sliced with salt.

I got a great big head of purple cabbage to make into quick sauerkraut to make the sauerkraut-and-bratwurst casserole thing. A bunch of little apples went in there, too. I only used half of it for kraut (and burned a little onto the bottom of the pan, boo), so tonight I used the rest of it for Indian slaw. More popping mustard seeds in hot oil, yay!

I thought there was something else, but maybe it was just cooking myself breakfast this weekend.

Other stuff: Games Night Thursday; we played a cooperative WWI survival game called "The Grizzled" and managed to not die. Also a super-fast new version of Race for the Galaxy, which I liked. (I can't play the regular game non-virtually anymore, because about 70% of the time on turn 2 I can tell I'm going to lose...)

Municipal board meeting Wednesday. I have concluded that what I can best contribute to the group is detail-oriented impetus to actually get shit done rather than just talking about things forever and ever. I remember back in grad school hanging out with folks at the Ranch, and we'd decide that, yeah, food should probably happen, and then an unbounded discussion about where to get dinner would begin until either Karen or I (or sometimes both of us) would yell "Everybody get up! We're going! We're going now! Stand up! We are leaving the house to get food!" to get everybody moving. So now I get to do the same thing but for forming committees.

Roleplaying-focused Unmunchkin last Sunday, followed by a big dinner with Chris & Todd & friends downtown at Sam's #3. (They were in town to celebrate their anniversary, yay!)

Also, I trimmed off the muttonchops, so now I just have an underlip tuft and a long, long mustache. Walgreen's started selling Pinaud mustache wax again, so I have been waxing it every day. We'll see how long it lasts before I get fed up with it. Monkey trimmed off the wizard beard and is back to just the friendly muttonchops.
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So, we had a wedding! It feels like it happened ages ago, but the calendar tells me it's only been ten days.

I know most folks who read this journal were there, but I figure it's worth setting down some details for posterity (and for future-me, who often forgets the details).

The Wedding )

And then Bryree pronounced us officially married, and we kissed. And everyone applauded. And it was very nice. And now I have a husband! :D

Okay, that turned out really long and it's bedtime, so this will have to be part 1. Next time I'll write about the reception!
dr_tectonic: (lj-net)
We got married! That will be a big long post I don't have the mana for right now, so instead I will recap visiting with other folks around the event itself.

So, many moons ago when we announced our wedding, Spider called us up and asked if she could come out a few days early and help out with wedding preparations in the lead-up to the big day. ("High-level minioning," she called it.) Not being fools, we of course said yes, that would be lovely. She got in on Wednesday, and after she was settled into her hotel, she came over for dinner (Chipotle) and visiting and a lot of being charmed by our kitties. She extracted a to-do list and various items to be wrangled from us and minioned away.

After doing a bunch of wedding stuff on Thursday morning (sorting music into playlists, updating the master plan, deciding grooman (grooms-humans) ordering), I managed to get into work on Thursday for about half a day, much of which was spent printing wedding stuff out. I zipped home around 4-ish, after Troy and Ron arrived at our house. They came to attend our wedding and stayed in our guest room. It might seem like overload (or madness) to have houseguests at the same time as the wedding, but it was actually quite nice to have them here. They're very low-maintenance friends with whom we can do lots of companionable quiet hanging out, and it was good to have extra people around who were not totally focused on WEDDING. Plus we were able to do things like tasking them with picking out dessert (fruit, sorbet, and non-dairy ice cream) suitable for people who can't eat cake, and bringing along things we had left at home. And they cooked breakfast for us on Friday & Saturday.

Friday was wedding prep like mad, dealing with the last things on our lists, frantically writing up and printing things out, and then at 4:30 all three-plus dozen of our groomans, parents, and their extras showed up at NCAR and we had the rehearsal. And pretty much everything was finished! At some point that evening, I realized: that was the hard part. All of our hard work was now finished, we had handed it off to our trusted friends, and now all we had to do was show up, look pretty, and say "I do". (The next day, as we were getting all gussied-up, Jerry and I remarked to one another that it was a little unnerving the scope of the event that we had put into motion and that we had now completely ceded all control of.) We had dinner (44 people!) at Yak & Yeti, which everyone enjoyed and complimented us on. (And which was quite affordable, considering.)

Saturday was the wedding! It went excellently. Heading out for dinner afterwards, Troy & Ron asked if they could take us out someplace nice and we said "not tonight!" because we were totally exhausted. We had Smashburger again since it's an easy gluten- and dairy-free (for them) / low-carb (for me) option that could be ordered with no functioning braincells left.

Sunday morning Jerry and I went to dim sum at Star Kitchen with nearly a full horde of TEPs (Bats Sarah Bird Death Rawhide Quincy Ronco Seppo Bradley Probe Becca Sophie Antee Jean et al.). We took up two tables and stuffed ourselves. Rebar & Christie also dropped by to say hello, hooray! Afterwards we brought the minivan full of wedding stuff home, then took Troy & Ron to the Butterfly Pavilion. The nature trails out behind the building are a good place to see prairie dogs up close, which are something I always forget that visitors will enjoy. Also there was a lot of downtime and recovery and just hanging out, which was lovely and delightful.

Yesterday we finished off their vacation time with a trip to Red Rocks, which reminded me just how pretty a venue it is and that I need to go see a show there again sometime. We ran into Kate there, who was also showing out of town visitors the sights! We dropped by Jason H's place while we were down on that end of town to pick up leftover cake (less than a dozen slices!). That afternoon we went up to Puzzah at the Flatirons Crossing mall and did an alien-abduction themed escape room! It was fun, although I would characterize it as more of a puzzle room than an escape room. It has an automated soundtrack that guides you through a sequence of puzzles and adjusts their difficulty - but also sorta penalizes you, time-wise, by interrupting with clues and instructions. We beat it with about 7 minutes to spare and got through ALL the bonus puzzles, so we felt fairly accomplished. They treated us to dinner at Sushi Yume, finally getting that nice dinner in. All in all, a really wonderful set of visits above and beyond the main event.

Eclipse

Aug. 23rd, 2017 09:56 am
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So Sunday morning we hopped in the car and drove out to Nebrasker to see the eclipse with my parents. The forecasts for traffic were bad, so we had all kinds of travel supplies on hand, but there was no traffic at all heading east on Hwy 36.

We got our wedding vows written up during the drive and arrived around 4 pm their time. A couple of my Mom's old work friends (Debbie and Marilyn) also drove out and were sleeping in the camper, so we got the guest room. Lots of visiting with family and old family friends and cats and dogs that evening.

We got up pretty early and headed out at about 8:30 the next morning. We drove an hour and some north to Kearney, where the fairgrounds was open. Once again, we went early anticipating big crowds, but there was nothing at all where we were. There were like two other vehicles within a hundred yards of us. We set up chairs and a table in the shade of a big tree and were very comfortable.

The partial eclipse started at about 11:30. At first, you couldn't tell anything was happening except by looking through eclipse glasses as the sun and seeing a chunk missing. After a while, though, the change in the light levels was definitely noticeable, and it cooled off. I kept looking up to see if a cloud had gone over the sun, but it was pretty much totally clear.

In the last fifteen or twenty minutes leading up to totality, the change in the light started to feel uncanny. The light levels felt like late evening, but there was no change in the color. (My parents' dog, Squirt, hopped into the truck to take a nap because it was bedtime.) The funny thing is that even when there was only a tiny sliver of the sun still visible, it was still much too bright to look at, so if you didn't know what was happening, all you'd be able to tell is that the sun was going dim and cold for no readily apparent reason.

Totality came on swiftly. All of a sudden, the sun was gone and there was a black circle with a brilliant silver ring around its edge in its place. It looks just like all the photos of it, but seeing it there in the sky is a totally different thing. I said "wow!" involuntarily. I could see the corona sticking out in three big spikes of light, and later on seeing other people's photos of it from hundreds of miles away that looked exactly the same really brought home that, yup, that wasn't anything happening in the atmosphere, that was the sun itself. I spent about 5 seconds trying to take a picture of it, and then got back to just looking.

Everything got very quiet; I think a lot of that was a lack of road noise as all the cars pulled over to watch the eclipse, but the wind also died down. Down at the horizon, it was like sunset, but in every direction. The sky was beginning-of-night dark, and a couple planets were readily visible, though I didn't look close enough to see Mercury.

We had just under 2 minutes of totality where we were, and then the sun came back just as quickly as it left. I saw just a tiny bit of Baily's Beads / diamond ring effect, but it doesn't last long before you have to look away and put your glasses back on as the sun becomes visible again. Of course, there was just as much partial eclipse after totality as before, but where in the lead-up it was fascinating to watch things change, afterwards it was small potatoes.

Once it was done, we all headed back to Naponee, and then Jerry and I packed up and drove home. Got in at about 9 pm. It was a lot of driving for two days, but the experience was worth it.
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Have we been up to much other than wedding prep lately? No. No we have not.

I don't know how couples manage to pull off weddings when they (a) haven't already been together for a decade and (b) are still in their early twenties and don't know how to organize big projects yet. (I mean, I know that the answer is mostly "lean heavily on their parents", "spend lots of money on paying people to do it", and/or "be super-duper stressed out by the whole process".) I'm just saying, it's a big undertaking, and I'm glad that we already know how to work together and that we know how to organize things so shit gets done.

Also, it's very entertaining how often one of us has said "So about this thing, I was thinking X," and the other has said "That's exactly what I was thinking."

There's still a fair number of things to do, but we've got all the essentials sorted out, and yesterday we made the master checklist of everything that has to happen between now and the day, and that was very helpful. (It was trying to mentally keep track of things that was stressing me out more than anything. Now that it's all written down I can just focus on what to do next.)

I realize I've been very scanty on details here, but it's because we're doing a bunch of neat stuff that I think will be even more enjoyable for the guests if there's no hype for it. It's gonna be good.

Okay, we haven't been up to much other than wedding prep, but there has been some stuff. Saturday before last there was a bonfire at Bob & Pyro's, which was lovely. Well, no actual bonfire, because it got rained out, but we still had an excellent time hanging out with bears in the barn. I made chocolate mousse, in large part because I had an inedible 99% cacao chocolate bar that I was able to use up by melting it and mixing it with semi-sweet chocolate chips. Then on Sunday we had the Kuma Go-Go (the five bears in our D&D group) over for practice cake-cutting. We played a bunch of Jackbox games on the Nintendo afterwards and had some good hangout time.

Had several short workdays last week because I was either meeting with people (like a collaborator from GFDL in town to visit our local NOAA collaborators) and had no brain left for other work when it was done or because I was running errands. I got a nice visit with Grandma & my uncle Dave on Wednesday. She's doing alright, but is definitely slowing down. Played some more Spirit Island at Chris's games night Thursday. I played a medium complexity spirit and felt like I had the hang of it, and we won pretty handily Maybe soon we'll finally be ready to start playing the full game!

On Saturday I manned a booth for the Inclusivity Board at Westy Fest for a couple hours. We didn't have a huge number of visitors, but we got good comments from those who did drop by. Lots of concerns about gentrification near the new train station and in the redevelopment of the area where the old mall used to be. I signed up for the 10-noon slot because I didn't want to lose the whole day to it, and I'm glad I did because the event got rained out later in the afternoon -- I guess it was a really severe storm that destroyed tents and everything! I'm grateful to be on the board, because with the news full of would-be fascist idiocy and other terrible things happening far away where I can't do anything about it, at least I have something that I'm involved in locally pushing in the opposite direction that might do some good.
dr_tectonic: (Default)
This week started lousy, but it's looking up.

Had a bit of a slow start on Monday. I had one important thing to do: write up my AGU abstract and get it submitted. That would get it done two days early, and clear things up for the rest of the week. I had already sorted out with my coauthors what we we're gonna do last week, so it was just a matter of writing it all out, finding the right session, and filling out the form. I decided that once I got that done, I could head home early and do a bunch of wedding errands along the way.

And then I just... didn't. I sat there in my office dinking around on the computer and getting nothing done until it was evening. Burned up most of a day's PTO on nothing.

I came home mad at myself for squandering the day, and then the next morning I woke up with sore lymph nodes and a little bit of a cough and realized, oh, I'm coming down with a cold. So I forgave myself for being useless the day before and sucked down 4 zinc lozenges before I left the house.

Got the abstract done and submitted. Yay! Ahoy New Orleans, I'll see you in December! (Moscone Convention Center in SF is being renovated, so AGU won't be back there until 2019.)

Came home early once that was dealt with (managing one errand along the way), did some more cooking (Mexican cabbage, which turned out better than the mushroom-spinach mixture I made Monday night, which was tasty but not enough so to warrant the effort invested), and otherwise just took it easy last night.

Today I decided to take a half day and go in late. I had a leisurely morning, and when I got into the office mid-afternoon with nobody else around, I Accomplished The Difficult Thing: I sat down and finally (FINALLY!) organized all the tasks for building a test system that will let me compare all the different tweaks to improve my code that I need to try out. This is the thing that I've been putting off for weeks in order to deal with all the urgent things that kept popping up. So now all I have to do is code up all the pieces that are written up in my nicely organized plans, which is a lot easier and more appealing than trying to figure out what to do when all the pieces are flying around in a tangle in my head.

Of course, I still haven't dealt with bills, but enh, tomorrow is another day.

Other stuff that happened: Star Wars on Saturday, which ate up my brain for a day and a half. Monkey helped Douglas drive a moving van to Phoenix on Wednesday, then flew back Thursday night. We had a work dinner at the Chautauqua Dining Hall that night; the view from the porch was lovely, bit to took forever for them to seat us and the food was kinda mediocre. And our waiter kept doing one thing and then vanishing. Anyway, I left from there and drove all the way to the airport to pick him up. I arrived a little early and tried to pull off into the cell phone lot, and either I missed it avoiding a massive line of cars coming off a side road or it's waaaay off out of the way, because it turned into a huge detour around the services area. Ack! But I got there in the end. Our second committee meeting got postponed, and then instead of postponing it again we decided that to just wrap things up over email.

Oh! And we saw Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets on Sunday. I give it a B-minus. The biggest problem was that the titular character was horrifically miscast. If it had been just Valerian's partner Laureline, it would've been a lot better. Otherwise, it had great visuals, a lot of neat ideas, and a weak script. It was a bunch of good individual bits that were combined into a lousy movie overall.
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Committee Meetings
At the Inclusivity Board meeting Wednesday before last, I volunteered for the committee that is sorting out how we communicate with city council and other entities. This resulted in a committee meeting at one member's house last Wednesday, and another one this coming week, and in me spending a chunk of this weekend writing up what we decided, and I would have said "foolishly volunteered" because it's not like I'm swimming in spare time lately, but I felt like this is exactly the kind of thing I wanted to contribute to the Board, and that getting it right matters, so here we are. (The solution: organizing our communications around the scale of the issue, and identifying whether it's a board-level, individual-level, or committee-level issue. And then impedance-matching the incoming message. Everything else follows naturally.)

Thursday Food Trucks and Gaming
The HOA has arranged for food trucks to come hang out in the parking lot near the (other) swimming pool on alternate Thursdays evenings, so Thursday of last week Jerry and I wandered over there and got teriyaki on a stick for dinner. Kinda pricey, but very tasty. Afterwards we went to Floyd's for game night and played a couple boardgames. Can't remember what the first one was called, but it was sorta like a sword-and-sorcery-themed 7 Wonders with buying cards and choosing actions instead of drafting. I liked it, but I won, and that usually helps give a favorable impression... For the second one we finally got to play Kanagawa, the Japanese mural painting game. Also fun.

Triple-R Brunch
Sunday we went to a housewarming brunch at Ray & Ron & Rich's new place, which they've been in for a while now but which I hadn't yet seen. Got a house tour. Socialized with bears, including Joe B., who I normally only see through work. (We only talked shop a little.) I was good about not eating baked goods.

Spirit Island
Having worked a long day from home on Friday and spent Saturday doing lots of wedding prep (q.v.), after the brunch on Sunday I was out of cope for actually doing anything productive, so Jerry and I played a two-player game of Spirit Island, which finally came in the mail. (I kickstarted it ages ago, and it was much-delayed in getting here.) It's a cooperative anti-colonization game, and there is a lot of game there. It solves the alpha-player/quarterbacking problem with simultaneous play and giving each player enough to manage that there's no hope of keeping track of all of it. We weren't even playing the full game and I thought it was meaty and satisfying. I enjoyed it enough that on Monday night I went over to the Nevilles' and played it with them, too. It's got a stupid amount of replay value, and I'm looking forward to exploring it.

Work
The last couple weeks have been spent fighting fires, mostly in the form of provisioning data for other people's projects so that I'm not the bottleneck. Satisfying in the sense of providing good service (sometimes getting that lovely "OMG you are amazing" feedback, when it turns out I can do in 10 minutes what would take them a day or two to do), but a little unsatisfying because I haven't even touched my main project in ages. At least I had the sense to completely punt writing a 3-page short paper for a workshop in September rather than making myself crazy trying to get it done in a day and a half.

Wedding Prep
Preparation and planning progress proceeds apace. We're in good shape, but man are there a lot of things to do. We ordered rings today! My mom had the excellent suggestion of going to the jewelry counter at Wal-Mart to find out what our ring sizes are without pressure from commissioned salespeople. (Jerry went ahead and got an inexpensive silver ring to wear while practicing.) I got some new nice dress pants without cargo pockets. (Also new socks.) We went up to NCAR last weekend and figured out how various things would fit into the actual space. We have roughed out the ceremony itself and some of our vows. We got a portable bluetooth speaker that puts out a LOT of sound, and this week the little in-line amplifier that will hopefully let us plug a mic directly into it arrived, but of course, we have to get yet another plug adapter before we can test whether it actually works... (But if not, we'll just talk loud.) We've been spending lots of time on the choreographed thing, which is coming along nicely. Oh, and of course nagging reminding stragglers to RSVP. So many things done, and yet so many still left to do! I don't know how people who haven't already been together for at least a decade manage to get married.
dr_tectonic: (Simon & me)
Jerry and I saw Baby Driver this afternoon. It's good! And definitely one to see in the theater; not only are the visuals scoped for a big screen, the soundtrack matters a lot, so you want to see it in a venue with a good sound system.

Spoilers behind the cut )
dr_tectonic: (Mister Cranky-pants)
So I was gonna write up a rant about the Savery Savory Mushrooms water tower on Federal Blvd:



I was gonna rant about how the name is all wrong because "saver-y" is a lousy pun, and anyway it should be ordered "savory savery", and it's such a missed opportunity when they could have done "so very savory" instead, which has much better rhythm, and I was looking for a picture of it and I found the city's webpage about it and suddenly discovered that it's named for the guy who built the farm.

Mr. Charles William Savery.

Dammit! It's not lousy marketing at all, it's just a guy's name!

Which makes it a perfectly reasonable name.

Which totally torpedoes my rant. Harrumph.
dr_tectonic: (Default)
Let's see: I ran Star Wars on Saturday and the Jeff rolled ridiculously well on his observation check and noticed the stealthed Jedi in the room, so that plotline is going to advance a lot faster than I expected it to. Hooray for rolling with it!

Then on Sunday there was Unmunchkin at Neal's, and I got to play 5e DnD with a 9-year-old DM. Which was a lot of fun! And gave me a greater appreciation for boxed text. Also, my wild mage sorcerer got a wild surge the very first time he cast a spell in combat: confusion, 10' radius, centered on self. So that made me happy. :D

Last weekend I went up to Trevor's on Saturday afternoon and played board games. One was an interesting deckbuilder (Mystic Vale, I think?) with transparent cards that you slide into card sleeves to upgrade cards. It was neat, but I think it may have some unbalanced momentum issues with the accelerator cards. Then we played a round of Guillotine, which I hadn't played in ages.

On the 4th, there was a pool party at Bob & Pyro's in the afternoon, and then we did the usual fireworks-watching in Broomfield. I made Indian coleslaw for the pool party and promised the recipe to someone (Jason, I think), so here it is!

That recipe left me with extra mint in the fridge, so tonight I tried out a recipe for Thai spring rolls that was loitering my TRYME folder, rolling them up in lettuce leaves instead of rice paper. They were tasty, but the recipe was fussy, so I turned it into another coleslaw recipe.

Other than that, it's been all about wedding prep, which proceeds apace. Oh, and at lunch today the visiting grad student and I figured out how to science the thing she came here to figure out, and it turned out to be considerably easier than we originally expected. So that was pretty cool. Hooray for collaboration!



Indian Slaw (Bund Gobhi Nu Shaak)

Ingredients

1 bag coleslaw mix
1/4 cup dry-roasted peanuts
1/4 cup dry unsweetened coconut shreds (see tips)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse kosher or sea salt
Juice from 1 medium-size lime
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon black or yellow mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric

Preparation

Food-process peanuts to coarse bread crumb consistency. (Pulse to avoid turning them into peanut butter.)
Add peanuts, coconut, cilantro, salt, and lime juice to slaw mix.
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering.
Add mustard seeds, cover, and cook until seeds have stopped popping, 20 seconds or so.
Remove from the heat and add turmeric to the oil, swirling to mix.
Pour oil over the cabbage; grab some cabbage mix and wipe the pan clean.
Mix well and serve.



Thai Spring Roll Slaw

Ingredients

1/2 tsp garlic powder
3/2 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp molasses (heaping)
1 tsp Thai green curry paste
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (juice of 1 medium lime)
2 Tbsp fish sauce

1/2+ cup mayonnaise

2 packages coleslaw mix
1 handful cilantro, chopped
1 handful mint, chopped

OPTIONAL:
1/3 pound rare deli roast beef, thinly sliced and cut into short 1/2-inch strips
-OR-
1 can of shrimp

Preparation

Mix the first six ingredients, then whisk mixture into mayonnaise.
Taste and add more mayo if needed for flavor or consistency
Toss the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.*
Add the sauce and mix until well-coated.

* The last two steps may need to be done in two batches.


NOTE: The original recipe uses roast beef as a substitute for shrimp, but I think shrimp would be lovely, especially if you don't have to fuss with wrapping spring rolls. I haven't tried it; 1 can is a total guess as to amount.

DnD 5e

Jul. 6th, 2017 10:19 pm
dr_tectonic: (chibi dr t)
So the other night Jerry and I went off and had dinner at the kebab place in Broomfield, then popped into the games store next door and picked up a copy of the 5th edition D&D Players Handbook with a gift card that's been languishing in my pocket since Christmas.

I haven't had a chance to play it yet, but I have read through the main bits and my general impression is quite good. They've flattened out the power curve quite a bit and fixed a bunch of things that were clunky in previous editions, and all the fixes are things that make you say "well OF COURSE that's the right way to handle that." There are at least two significantly different ways to go with every character class, and they include a number of character types that were always popular but hard to build.

I'm particularly impressed with Backgrounds. Backgrounds are a standard part of character creation; they give your character a couple skills, some gear, and a benefit. You also pick a couple personality traits, a weakness, a thing you care about, and a goal or ideal, all related to the background, and here's where it gets clever: if you roleplay those characteristics, you are rewarded with inspiration, which you can use to get a mechanical advantage. (And while you can make up your own, all of the suggested characteristics are definite and concrete things that are easy to latch onto.) And they did a good job picking the nature of the characteristics; I sketched out four different character ideas, and with each of them, after I figured out the background and thought about what kind of person would have those characteristics, I felt like I had a really clear picture of the character's psychology and how they would behave. So it's a very well-designed mini-system for encouraging roleplaying.

I'm looking forward to playing at some point!

(I was working on a longer post, but then my browser ate it. Grumble! But this was part of it, and hey, for once I'm sharing an opinion about things instead of just recounting What I Did Last Week...)
dr_tectonic: (Default)
My group at work is having a check-in meeting this morning, and I feel like I have gotten nothing done since our last check-in because I have made very little progress on my main project (the R package I'm working on). But then I went through my email and tallied up all the things I did instead, and realized, oh, right, it's because there were literally a dozen other things that came up, and each of those took a day or two to deal with. Plus I went to Italy. And there you go, that's five weeks. It's all the context switching that really kills me.

Wedding preparations proceed apace. It's kind of alarming how much there is to do and how quickly time is passing, but we have lists and we're making progress on them, and everything seems to be on track. And really, pretty much every detail could fall apart at the last minute and it would still be fine. We'll be there and our friends and family will be there and that's the bit that counts.

Let's see, last weekend we had ice dyeing and Craig's housewarming and Floyd BBQ, and the weekend before that we had games at Jeff & Alice's (Sentinels, Seven Wonders, that Cthulhu investigation game) and Wonder Woman, and that's mostly all we've been up to.

Oh, and Douglas passed on to us a portable A/C unit -- one of the stand-up rolly ones that vents out the window -- which we picked up last weekend from Bob & Jeff's old place. It is AMAZING. I can cool the entire living room area, and about twenty minutes after turning it on, one of us says to the other "Are you cold? I feel kinda cold," and we turn it back off.
dr_tectonic: (Default)
More than one person asked for the recipes for the two kinds of coleslaw I brought to the Floyds' birthday barbecue this evening, so I figured I'd just post them.



Apple-Bacon Coleslaw

Ingredients

* 3 Tbsp olive oil
* 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
* 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
* 1 Tbsp lemon juice
* 1/2 tsp hot sauce
* 1/4 tsp salt

* 1 (16-ounce) package shredded coleslaw mix
* 2 large apples, cored and diced
* 4+ cooked bacon slices, crumbled / chopped
* freshly ground pepper to taste

Preparation

Whisk together first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well to coat. Chill for at least half an hour.

NOTES: Use a good eating apples, like Galas or Fuji. Don't use Granny Smiths. Precooked bacon works fine if you don't feel like dealing with frying it up. You can go heavy on the dressing.



Vietnamese Slaw

Slaw

1 package coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage + carrots)
1 small white onion or 3-4 green onions, sliced thin
1-2 stalks celery, sliced thin
1-2 carrots, julienned (macho) or sliced (lazy)
1 handful cilantro, chopped / shredded
1 handful mint, chopped / shredded (de-stemmed, also)

Mix everything up in a great big bowl.


Chicken (optional)

Add a pound or so of sliced / shredded cooked chicken to make it a main dish.


Dressing

3 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp white vinegar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp crushed / chopped garlic
a few shakes dried crushed red pepper

Whisk everything together in a small bowl. Pour over slaw and mix well just before serving.
Tip: For a potluck, double the dressing; put the ingredients in a small mason jar and shake it up to mix before serving.


Topping (optional)

2 Tbsp peanut oil
1/2 Tbsp chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped peanuts
1 Tbsp brown sugar

Fry the garlic in the oil until pale golden, then stir in the chopped peanuts and brown sugar.
Alternately: just crunch up some honey-roasted peanuts and fried onions to make an easy approximate topping.



Bonus recipe: here's the recipe for carb-free parmesan spinach balls, which I brought to Craig's housewarming yesterday and to games night at Jeff and Alice's last weekend. The original recipe calls for Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs; to make it low-carb, I substituted chopped nuts, which also solves the problem of the originals being too dry.

No-Carb Cheesy Spinballs

Ingredients

* One 10-oz package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
* 1 cup walnuts or pistachios
* 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 2 Tbsp melted butter

* 1/2 tsp salt
* 1/2 tsp parsley flakes
* 1/2 tsp black pepper
* 1/2 tsp garlic powder
* 1/2 tsp onion powder
* 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1/2 tsp dried basil

Preparation

Chop nuts in food processor to breadcrumb size.
(If not pre-grated, use the grater disk on the food processor to grate parm.)
Mix dry ingredients (nuts, parmesan, and spices) well in a large-ish bowl.
Preheat oven to 350.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with Pam.
Squeeze the spinach to drain, then add to bowl.
Using bare hands, mix until homogeneous.
Add eggs and butter and mix again.
Form into 24 ~1-inch balls and place on baking sheet.
Bake 22 minutes, until well-browned.

The base recipe doesn't make all that many; you may want to double it for a party.
Uncooked spinballs reportedly can be frozen and baked on short notice.
dr_tectonic: (Dr. Tectonic)
Jerry and I saw Wonder Woman this afternoon, and both thought it was excellent.

I liked pretty much everything about it. It's not perfect (there are nits that could be picked), but I liked the choices they made about the characters to include in the story, and what they did with various elements of WW's character design, and the storyline was interesting and novel (during the credits I turned to Monkey and said "wait, that was an origin story and I didn't even notice it!), and they did a good job of avoiding the tired and obvious, and I liked the arc of the whole thing. And it didn't drag; despite being almost two and a half hours long, I never wondered how much longer it was going to be.

And I now have a theory about what's wrong with the other DC superhero movies. Diana is allowed to have feelings. Plural. At different times she's happy, and sad, and angry, and confused, and outraged, and delighted, and so on. She feels different things, and those feelings are important to the progression of the story. And that's interesting and engaging.

Whereas the other superheroes tend to be very one-note. The further along you get in the Batman franchise, the more the Dark Knight only exhibits a single emotion: grim, brooding, vengefulness. Oh, sure, maybe it modulates a half-step into vengeful anger or melancholy brooding, but Batman never gets to be happy or grossed-out or embarrassed or affectionate, just some combination of angry + sad. And after not very long, that gets to be really boring.

Superman is only allowed to be alienated and repressed. He may have other emotions, but their only purpose is to strengthen his alienation and repression. Boring. Batman vs Superman? All repressed-anger-sadness all the time. BOOORRRINNNG.

(The problem with Hal Jordan in the Green Lantern movie was not a lack of emotions other than smug cockiness, but the fact that the movie's emotional arc was incoherent because it was fixated on Hero's Journey Dammit even though it makes no sense for that character. So it was Confusing instead. Which turns out to also be boring.)

So here's to hoping that the Justice League movie manages to figure it out. At the very least, it's got six different characters in it; even if they're all one-note, maybe they'll be different notes...
dr_tectonic: (Default)
How is it Wednesday already? How is it after 9 pm? Heck, how are we already a week into June? I feel like I just got up about two hours ago and that it should be, like, a Tuesday morning in late May.

Not much of note last week; work was mostly catching up from being away plus assorted meetings. We had Douglas over for dinner on Thursday evening. Assorted wedding prep stuff getting kicked into higher gear.

The weekend was busy. Saturday we spent the day at Gene & Brandon's doing ice dyeing, with mixed but promising results. Not everything came out well, but the good stuff is really good. It's a neat technique: you cover the fabric you're dying with ice, and then sprinkle dye powder on top of it and let it melt.

For best results, you want to soak the fabric in soda ash (sodium carbonate) solution first and let it dry completely. (Hanging things up to dry took up a chunk of Friday evening.) After you've got your ice and dye in place, you let it sit for 24 hours, so we had to head back down there Sunday morning to pick things up. And then there's the aftercare: rinse each piece in a bucket of steaming hot water for 30 seconds, then wring it out under cold running water until the water runs clear. Do that twice. Dry it in the dryer on medium. Then wash it in the washer (warm water) with a cup and a half of white vinegar. Then dry it again.

That and more wedding stuff took up most of Sunday. We managed to fit in dim sum at Empress with Verdun, though. So yay for that!

The kitties have been super-lovey since we got back. They're not quite clingy, but all three of them are like, oh, you're in this room now? Well, it just so happens I was planning to hang out in here myself, so that's convenient. I'll just be over here if there's any cat stuff that needs doing. Y'know, just FYI.