Sunday, January 15, 2017

Reorganizing

Alas, I think I was overstretching myself trying to read two textbooks, non-textbooks, and various other projects.

Several major things have been interfering - the main ones being PLANNING.

Normally I like planning, but this is getting a bit excessive and yes, I'm mostly to blame.
1) Southwest National Parks trip - hitting Zion, Arches, Mesa Verde, Canyon de Chelly, and Petrified Forest
2) Scotland trip - focusing on Edinburgh and a trip through the highlands
3) Bachelorette party in Seattle which means coordinating with 6 other people I don't know in a place I don't know...
4) Portland trip for Eclipse
5) Various winery trips
6) Eventually a trip to Humboldt and Redwoods in the late Summer time.

Not to mention increased pressure to make sure the Journal Club stays fresh and doesn't atrophy over time.

So alas the World History and Marine Biology readings will have to be a bit less frequent.

Did finish the spice book and we made some new recipes recently - not bad on the whole.  It's hard when you already know so many things that you like to cook and eat - being adventurous comes with its risks...

Halfway through "Doctors from Hell" by Vivian Spitz about the Subsequent Hearings after the Nuremberg Trials which focused on the physicians and the "experiments" they carried out.  "Experiment" is a very loosely applicable word, as experiment suggests they have a hypothesis and studied the effects with some kind of goal.  The way these doctors did things seemed mostly to be "what would happen if we did X to a person?" Not really any scientific theories of how to prevent bad things from happening, and nothing seemed to add anything to the field of knowledge.

A couple other work-in-progress books... but not including...

- How to use my new camera, the Nikon D3300
- National Geographic Guide to the National Parks (to better plan the Southwest trip)

Writing, photo albums, computer games...

Not to mention obligatory socialization from time to time...

And then the looming threat of motherhood in 2-3 years.

The odds are forever stacked against us I suppose - just have to keep struggling on -

* sigh *

Monday, January 2, 2017

2017 is Here!

It's been quite a year.  I think that pretty much says it.  It's been great for me, the world in general - not so much.

Here's an old gem from London to brighten your spirits:



Resolutions, as you may have gathered, are kind of an ongoing thing.  I've upgraded several recent 'resolutions' to 'maintenance goals' - since I've managed to keep it going for a few weeks.  Tried to organize these to be slightly more concise.

New goals:
1) Get creative in the kitchen again - my other half's been picking up the slack on that for the last couple months, but I miss making new interesting dishes - and after reading about various herbs and spices, I'm eager to try out some dishes highlighting various ones!
2) Get out and hike more, and find places to collect insects! - got some hiking shoes to break in, a hiking back pack, and a list of places to go - just have to get out there!
3) Plan this year's vacations and figure out my CME plans
4) Get back into writing and drawing
5) Spend less time on Facebook and news websites - for obvious reasons
6) Visit more wineries
7) Become good at taking photos with the new Nikon 3300 - I'm going to do this right.  Read the actual guide on how to take awesome pictures!  I suspect I'm going to need another lens, this one doesn't quite zoom in as much as I would like, but again, I need to make sure all my settings are optimized.  First pictures have come out pretty nice though - Midnight is especially difficult since she's usually black on black but the details came out there very well.  The butterfly wing also shows the individual scales, which was very nice.







In-progress:
- Photo album for past year on Shutterfly - just finished pics up through March
- Halloween cyberpunk android costume - I had a dream which gave me some interesting ideas
- Figure out an herb garden plan for the plot outside - finished reading this book about herbs and spices, and made a list (see last post) so now just to figure out watering demands, planting time, seed vs. starter plant, and organization (light, semi-shade, shade).


Maintenance: Duolingo, XHIT arm and leg exercises, Jun tea, reading lists, violin, computer games (currently Dishonored 2 and Mankind Divided)

*breathes*  Okay, 2017.  Let's get started.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

T-minus 6

6 days until the new year - 2017.  I think it will be the start of many good years.  Christmas was good, typically is.  Yule time is often quite nice.  I am somewhat craving some Wassail - which to me means dark beer plus fruit juice and spices.  To my other half, all that minus the beer.  Not quite as warming IMO but to each his/her own.

Revisiting my plans from a few weeks ago -

1. Yule log - check
2. Yule themed wreath - gotta find materials....
3. Perfect Yule cocktail - I've been making gin + tonic mix + cranberry + club soda, does that count?  It looks reddish!  Just need to take a pretty pic and add some herbs in... rosemary would do nicely.
4. Figure out things to plant for spring - well, the plants are alive and the mint plant is thriving - still gotta discuss the plant plans.  I am leaning towards several herbs (see below) and a couple edible flowers, since they all do well as "companion plants" and encourage pollinators and discourage pests.  Need to find some sweet woodruff seeds... haven't ordered any yet but I think these would all do well.
5. Add on the XHIT leg exercises - yup!  Since starting two weeks ago I have maintained doing them Tues and Thurs!  Even this past Thurs when I REALLY didn't want to!
6. Journal Club at work - yup!  It is up and running.
7. Halloween costume - that will be a challenge, but I do have a lot of time to work on it...  Hopefully we'll get an update on Cyberpunk 2077, and what with the Bladerunner sequel coming out next year, I should have enough fodder!
8. Read a chapter of Ulysses with companion book between each "great book" completion - yup!  I've only done one, but considering I just finished Pedro Calderon de la Barca's "La Vida es Sueno" I guess I'm due to do the second chapter.
9. Clear my CME inbox - does putting them all in a folder titled "Medscape CME" count?  No... but that won't be happening.
10. New chapter of Red Horizon - this goal is now changing to re-read Red Horizon (partial draft 1) and revise it.  I need to make some changes to the dynamics of my future dystopia.  It's got elements of Orwell and Huxley, but finding the right balance is the key part for maintaining realism.

Bonus goals:
- Set up monthly donations to Electronic Frontier FoundationCenter for Reproductive RightsNational Resources Defense Council, and Move On
- Weekly World History and Marine Bio readings - even setting up flashcards!
- Got some longer-sleeve work clothing
- Added some aluminum prints to my office

Still need to work on drawings, finish SC2, and hash out the details of next years' vacations.

As a bonus-bonus goal, I organized my computer files!  Dating back to the year 2000!  Ugh my diary.  So painful.  Such a teenybopper.  Yes, I admit it, I was insufferable.  Now I have all my pics and documents in two places - desktop and portable hard drive.

I think things are off to a rip roaring start.  I just have to keep going on these things!  Time to check on the Jun tea -


Buche de Noel aka Yule Log

Yule Log!  I made my first one based on THIS recipe - it took about 2 hours of nonstop baking and mixing, so plan ahead - I didn't make it as decorated as that picture, but it turns out pretty well - here are the pictures of the process:


Here are all the ingredients laid out - it doesn't look like much, right?  Only problem is all the damn whipping you have to do!!


Whipping egg yolks...


Whipping egg whites...


Rolling the fresh baked chocolate-whipped yolk stuff...


Applying the chocolate whipped cream (third whipped item btw)...


Cutting it to look kinda like a branch



I thinly spread some melted semisweet chocolate along parchment paper and chilled it in the fridge - the brown is a bit homogeneous but it looks decent with the powdered sugar sprinkled on top!


And ta-da!!!

By the way, it tastes AMAZING.  I'm a chocoholic and I thought the amount of powdered cocoa that goes into it wouldn't be sufficient but it was fantastic.  I love this cake.  I want to make it a tradition that we try new ways to decorate it every year - I want to try those mushroom meringues next time!

Happy Yule and Happy Holidays!  
The days start to get longer from here on out!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Almost Back in the Saddle

Getting so much closer to restarting the writing.  Here's how it got started - surprisingly, with metal music binges.

It reminded me of epic adventures and romances - primarily the album by Dragonland - Under the Grey Banner.  It reawakened an interest in my old stories, and I mean old.  Like 2006 old.  

After reading through those, setting them to various music mixes, I remembered how fun they could be to read.  Not just write, but read too.  There were some plot devices I completely forgot about, and on revisiting, still felt fresh. 

Now, I still haven't revisited Red Horizon with fresh eyes - that's the part I'm really working towards.  I'm feeling some extra motivation also after watching the Red Letter Media discussion of why the first three Star Wars movies were not good.  One interesting point he brought up was how to move the plot along while at the same time giving background information and present the information in interesting ways.  It brought me back to some of the ways I thought of doing that.  Opening on a major crisis,  Bringing up backstory while heading into a surface walk that results in discoveries.  Talking about plot developments while traversing a fractionator room, scientific research facilities, pre-during-post hallucination experiences.  The biggest thing I remember from Red Letter is avoid just having them sit down talking.  Sure, in an environment/atmosphere-heavy story, I think it's forgivable to have discussions in previously unvisited areas, like musings in a storage facility, or common areas and cafeterias.  

At any rate, I think the next step is rereading Red Horizon and getting re-engaged in the characters.  Time to pay Tharsus One another visit.






Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Stabilization

After spending 2 months at the new job and the new apartment, things are starting to come together.  I won't go on about the new job, it's pretty much paradise.  

I think I have a routine somewhat figured out - managing to do Duolingo again daily, practicing violin fundamentals with the new teacher, starting my XHIT arm exercises again, finally playing Mankind Divided, even starting a new skin regimen which I already really like.  I think I've just had to come to an understanding with my brain that yes, we will still not be sleeping as much as we'd like.  There's simply too much to do in a day.  Brain protests sometimes, even tries to trick us, but putting the alarm far enough away that I have to walk to it gives me just enough time to convince my brain that we might as well just stay up and get things going.  If I don't put it far enough away, this will happen:


I'm quite glad that things are 'stable' - my activities are finally reaching an equilibrium, and maintaining themselves.  But... there are a lot of projects that have not gotten started, and many that need to be defined.  

Yule is approaching, so there are many opportunities for crafts, decorating, cocktails, new menu items.  

Not sure what order these things will be done in, but let's get started!  I'll limit it to 10...

1. Yule log chocolate cake for the solstice
2. Build a Yule-themed wreath
3. A perfect Yule cocktail
4. Figure out things to plant for spring and keep Gene (Triple Crown Blackberry) and Rudy (Boysenberry) alive - thank you weather for helping out!
5. Add on the XHIT leg exercises (I'm not a fan of Miley Cyrus but I like this video aiming to make your legs look good like hers): 
6. Start a journal club at work
7. Android/cyberpunk/cybernetic human costume for next Halloween - I know, I know, we just had Halloween.  Heck the last post was THIS year's Halloween costume.  But I've been wanting to do this one forever and it will require a lot of planning and research.
8. Read a chapter of Ulysses with the companion book between each book I complete from my list
9. Clear my CME inbox buildup from Medscape and various other sources and keep it under control
10. Get at least another chapter of Red Horizon finished before the end of the year
Bonus: Donate regularly to progressive funds to keep the new regime from destroying civil liberties, science, internet freedom, etc.


   


As usual, still can't stop at one thing so... things that take less precedence:
Work on more drawings, decorate office more (just ordered a couple birthday presents for myself to put up!), keep reading the World History and Marine Biology books, go insect collecting when the weather is more conducive, finish Star Craft II epilogue missions, plan CME trip and other vacation itineraries for next year, consider getting some non-work clothes that look nice and don't have holes?

Try out more youtube makeup videos - this girl is in high school but I really like her fresh-faced looks and I like her editing and narration.  Found her video when I looked for makeup ideas for the Rey Halloween costume - honestly these videos make me want to care about makeup again because it'd be fun to actually try to have a 'wow' look.  

...and I just added 8 things to my wishlist.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Halloween!

As usual, put a good amount of work into a costume, but alas, this time no where to go.  Guess the trick or treaters will be the only ones to see the costume - but kids really like the new Star Wars, so maybe they'll like seeing me as Rey - here are the photos!

 

 


 

 

  

Well, Happy Halloween and may the force be with you!