dxmachina: (Computers 02)
...or how I spent my summer.

I spent a good portion of the summer teaching — the lab portion of my usual MCC assignment on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 8 to 10 p.m. The three days a week thing got old fast, but otherwise I had a good class and a good time. One of my students was even a minor local celebrity, a features reporter for a local TV station who is apparently chucking it all to become a (male) nurse. Of course since the local TV station is not local to where I live, I had no idea until some of the other students pointed it out. He was totally not the stereotypical self-absorbed TV personality, but was rather a keen student and very helpful to others.

As for the rest of the time, here are the highlights...

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Last weekend of June... )

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Fourth of July weekend... )

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Readercon weekend... )

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First weekend in August... )

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The funeral... )

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Summer ends for me on Tuesday, with the start of the semester at MCC. Meanwhile I have been busy preparing syllabi and lecture notes. I'm teaching my usual general chemistry course at MCC, Mondays and Wednesdays 4-7, and a lab over at CCSU on Thursdays from 4:30 to 7:30. The department chair at CCSU offered me a second lab section, but it conflicted with MCC, alas.

Hoping I can post this...

Nope, still down... and I lost all my tags. Bother.

And now we appear to be back.
dxmachina: (Christmas)
It's truffle time again at Casa Machina! I've put up 16 dozen or so truffle centers so far, and should finish off the last four batches of centers (about 9 dozen) today. Then it's time to dip.

There was a short snag when I went to look up my truffle recipes. I store them here on Livejournal so that I won't lose them, but LJ was down, and past experience has shown that they could be MIA for days. Now I have the basic mix committed to memory, so I tried to soldier through and make a batch of mocha truffles from memory. Turns out my memory of the details was faulty, as I discovered a couple of hours later when LJ came back. Fortunately, no harm was done. I used incorrect settings whilst melting the chocolate in the microwave, but my habit of checking the progress a lot caught the mistake before I scorched the chocolate. And mixing up tsps of coffee powder with tbsps yielded deep chocolate rather than mocha truffles, which were on the list anyway.

I saved a copy of the recipes to a text file so that I won't have this issue again. The irony here is that normally I am totally against storing info in the cloud, yet I have this huge blind spot when it comes to my recipes, all of which are here in LJ and occasional scraps of hard to find paper.

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Some observations of the universe... )

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I baked bread today, or rather, I took a bread recipe and made hard rolls with it, just to see how they'd work out. Just came out of the oven, so we shall see shortly.


dxmachina: (Hangover)
So, spent the day baking cookies (two kinds) and making beef stock for demi-glace from scratch. Plus I made two batches of kolacki* dough, as well as the no-sugar added apricot jam for the kolacki filling. Did not have time to make the third kind of cookie, but the kolackis will be better anyway. Finished dipping truffles Wednesday night, so at least those are done. Now it's just a matter of assembling packages. Also did last minute shopping and went to the company Christmas luncheon. Am very tired.

* A small Czech pastry, that is sort of a cross between a tart and a Danish. I will post the recipe. They apparently all the rage in Texas. It's pronounced ko-latch-key. It seems like every "c_", be it "cz" or "ck", in Czech is pronounced as a soft "ch", except for "ch" which is pronounced "ck".

Have I mentioned I'm cooking Christmas dinner? Not here, but at my sister's house. I did this once before, and it was fine. I'm overthinking and overdoing, of course. Menu to be rib roast with both brown gravy and Tchoupitoulas sauce (thus the need for the demi-glace), roasted potatoes, peas, carrots of some sort, creamed onions, Yorkshire puddings, and rolls. Rie is getting the beef and potatoes, and I think I have everything else I'll need. Now I just need to remember to put it in the back of the truck tomorrow. Plus the potato slices that are marinating in the frig for the potato salad for tomorrow night's traditional cold cut dinner. (The Italians do fish on Christmas Eve, my family does cold cuts. It's a thing.)

Still need to roll out, fill, and bake the kolackis, and finish making the potato salad.

The weather has been insanely moderate for this time of year. I might have ridden my bike today had I not been running about like a madman. Now I'm worried about keeping stuff cold for the trip.

All Hallows

Nov. 1st, 2011 09:51 pm
dxmachina: (I Got a Rock)
Almost all the snow was gone by last night, so Halloween arrived on time. Got about the same number of trick-or-treaters as usual. The most adorable were a sister and brother. The sister* was a fairy princess who tried to clean me out of candy whilst diverting my attention from the candy bowl by a) being cute as a button, and b) engaging me in conversation about the fact that I have not one but two porch lights. I had to cut her off at three Kit-Kat bars. Someday she will be a real heart breaker. Meanwhile, her parentals were trying to coax her little brother, aka, the littlest pumpkin, along so he could get his treat. It's his first trick or treat, and he's not yet much of a walker, but he made a game effort for a while trying to lug a bucket o'treats almost as big as him across my front lawn. Unfortunately a mean tuft of grass tripped him up, and the bucket o'treats spilled all over. Fortunately the parentals were right on it, and no treats were lost. Meanwhile I'd decided to meet him halfway, and handed him a package of M&Ms. He certainly recognized that. His eyes lit up and he lit out at a stagger for my front door in search of more. His mom managed to cut him off before he reached the stoop.

* Who resembled my cutie patootie niece so much that I half expected to see my sister standing out on the street waiting for her.

In the "plans that seemed like a good idea at the time" department were two boys about 10 or 11, one of whom was pushing the other in a stroller. I assume it was the older brother, aka, the inventor of the cunning plan, riding and the younger brother pushing. Probably hard enough on the street, but really tough trying to push the thing across my lumpy lawn. I suppose I should feel for the younger one, but I was the oldest brother in my family so I appreciate the genius of the rider.
dxmachina: (Hangover)
I spent New Year's Eve with friends, playing Apples to Apples and singing along (badly) while the kids played "We Got the Beat" in Rock Band. And feeling awful for Dick Clark.

Despite the lack of resolutions last New Year's, I managed to accomplish a couple of worthwhile things this past year. For one, even though I gained some weight back last winter, by the end of the year was I was a few pounds net to the good, so that's something.

The other thing is that for the first time in 25 years I have no credit card debt to speak of. I paid them off in June, and have since been able to not only pay off the balance every month, but also bank the money that I'd been previously putting towards payments. The only debt I am currently carrying is the mortgage on the house (which is about half of the current assessed value). My 401K is recovering from the recent unpleasantness, and just to add a cherry on top of the year, for Christmas my father gave each of my sibs and me a chunk of stock in the company the family business represents.

I have never had much of a head for money. I've also never been one to whom wealth was particularly important. Fortunately, I've almost always had a job that paid me enough to live comfortably. Where I got into trouble over the years was in frittering away what I could've been using to make myself even more comfortable on credit card interest and such like. I think I'm finally learning. On the other hand, money can't buy me love.

Other than those things, though, not much happened. Mostly I went to work, rattled around the house, or rode one of my bikes. I rode more than 1600 miles, my second best total ever. Probably could've beaten the old best, too, if I hadn't wussed out the last couple of months because of the cold weather.

So, the year gone by wasn't particularly exciting, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I know people who had terrible years, and that makes me feel lucky to live such an uninteresting life.
dxmachina: (Bike Snow)
I'm sitting here with my coffee while waiting for the feeling to return to my toes. I rode my bike this morning, even though it was below freezing outside. It wasn't really my choice. I had to drop my truck off at the shop for some work (the heater stopped working this week, natch, among other things), and rather than hang around the waiting room for hours and hours, I figured I could tough out the ride back and forth.

It wasn't awful. I dressed properly, and apart from my toes (and around my eyes, early on) it was warm enough. Being early Saturday morning, there wasn't much traffic, and had it been warmer it would've been a pleasant ride.

The bike was less happy about things. It stays in the back of the truck when not in use, so it was very cold when I hauled it out. The biggest issue was that the rear derailleur wasn't moving at all, so I couldn't do any shifting with it, at least at first. The front derailleur worked, so I was able to use that to do very rough changes, and fortunately the first part of the ride was mostly flat. After a mile or so, the rear hub warmed up some, and the derailleur started working again. Sort of. There were still a few unannounced gear changes along the way. Anyway, I made it home (5½ mi), and the ride back should be a little warmer as it's supposed to get up into the forties today. As long as it's before sunset.

This morning's ride was the first time I'd been on the bike in almost a month. It's been too cold for comfort. I haven't been on the stationary bike much, either, which I need to change going forward.

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Yikes! Just got a call from the shop. Repairs are going to be close to a grand (new radiator, new wheel bearing, new differential cover). Merry frelling Christmas!

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Speaking of Christmas, I started in on my annual trufflemania. I had yesterday off, so since Thursday night I've managed to make 7 types of centers already, and I should be able to finish off the rest today, barring another unfortunate drop-the-cream-cheese-on-the-floor incident*. I may even start coating tomorrow. That's way ahead of where I usually am this time of year. On the other hand, I haven't even thought of a design for a Christmas card yet, much less begun production of same, so there's that.

* For family members who may happen to read this, no, I did not attempt to wipe it off and use it anyway. Even if it would've been fine, which it was when I had some of it on my toast this morning.

Also, with regards to truffles, I added one more flavor last year, but apparently never bothered to write it down, so here it is (the base recipe is here, and some additional flavors are here):

vanilla centers -

chips: white chocolate chips**
flavoring: 1½ tsp of French vanilla extract***

coating: milk chocolate

** A careful reading of the ingredient list for Nestle's Premier White Morsels (note the missing word) informs me that they do not, in fact, contain any chocolate or cocoa butter whatsoever.

*** For the record, French vanilla should not be a flavor. It's a style of vanilla ice cream made in the French manner, i.e., from an egg custard. That's why it's richer and yellower than normal vanilla ice cream, not from anything having to do with the vanilla itself. It really ought to apply only to ice cream. <Takes an ironic sip from his cup of French vanilla flavored coffee...>

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Other stuff. I caught a bad cold the day before Thanksgiving, so I missed the family dinner for the first time in my life. That sucked. Took about ten days to finally shake the cold, too.

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Toes have warmed up. Time to make some more truffles.

Halloween

Oct. 31st, 2010 10:07 pm
dxmachina: (I Got a Rock)
Got 28 trick-or-treaters, about the usual. The cutest was the shy, very little boy in the Tigger outfit whose mom and dad were prompting him to say "Trick or treat," with very little success. Very adorable, the lot of them. The was another little guy later on in a fire chief's outfit* on who got his line right and seemed very pleased about it.

* I know it was the chief, because it said so on the costume. I occurred to me that I probably haven't seen a kid in a fireman's costume since I was a kid. I'm pretty sure I had a fireman's hat back then, myself.

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Rode both days of the weekend, giving me just over 200 miles for the month, a personal best for October. It was wicked windy both days, which took some of the fun out of it since it was right in my face on the inbound legs of the laps.

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I spent the time between treat handing out watching Buffy eps— "Halloween," "Fear Itself," "The Initiative," and "Pangs." It been years since I actually watched any of them. Good stuff.
dxmachina: (Bike 02)
I rode all three mornings, Saturday and Sunday in Kingston, today up at Blackstone with friends.

I've taken to riding early on Saturdays so that I can do whatever chores I need to do after I ride, rather than before, which leads to tuckered-out rides. Given the forecast, i.e., lovely on Saturday, blistering after that, I did my annual July 4th trimming of the shrubs Saturday afternoon. It was still hot, messy work, but it wasn't baking hot nor terribly humid, so it worked out.

The basic problem is that the previous owner let most the shrubs get too big. The hedge on the north side of the house is perfectly sized, and the shrubs on the south side aren't ridiculous, although perhaps there are too many, but the junipers, yews, and even my beloved small-leaf rhododendrons out front are all my height or better. The yews are tall enough to partially block the view from the windows behind them. I can't really cut them shorter, because the leaves end not far behind the new growth, and because they also got too wide, so the sides the plants that face other plants are completely barren of foliage. All six of them are pretty much hollow.

I don't even like the junipers, as I get a mild allergic reaction if I get scratched by one, and although I don't mind the yews, they're just too damn big. The problem is that if I cut them out of there, I'm left with two rhododendrons that will flower gloriously come spring in front and on top, but not at all on their sides. To do it properly, I probably need to take them out, too. Sigh.

Anyway, after several hours of wielding my electric hedge trimmer as though it were Excalibur against the shrubs that say Ni, they were trimmed for another year. Actually, I got a little over zealous here and there, and there are some definite bare spots where I went a little beyond removing current growth.

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Sunday after the ride* but before it got ridiculously hot, I pulled out the loppers and my camp saw to do battle with the part of the evil thicket that was encroaching on the SE corner of the yard. Spent about an hour working on that, then continued training the tomato plants to their stakes. I have lots on teensy green tomatoes on the way, and even one tiny spaghetti squash so far.

* I rode the now well-adjusted 3-speed, and it worked flawlessly. I'm still surprised, though, at how badly it managed to get itself out of adjustment just hanging from a hook in the attic for the last year or so.

Afterward, I spent some quality time down in the basement organizing and cleaning up matted sawdust. Then I repaired to the a/c in the office to enter utilities and pay stubs for the last nine months into gnuCash. Still much to be done on both projects.

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Today, as previously mentioned, I went for a ride on the Blackstone path with part of the v-ball crew. Apart from Blake, none of them had ever been before, so that was fun. It was blistering hot, which suppressed the usual pack of strollers, pedestrians, and other speed bumps from blocking the path. (I will note, however, that since we were constantly stopping to wait for the slower members of the group to catch up, we often became speed bumps ourselves.) Later we went back to Dale's for a pool party and barbecue which was great fun. Fun fact: wasps will catch crickets and haul them back to their nests for dinner. I know this because the nest in question turned out to be in the tubular steel chaise immediately to my left as I sat talking to Christina, who was sitting in the aforementioned chaise. Fortunately, the wasps turned out to be too stuffed with cricket to do much more than glower at us as Chris noisily vacated the chaise.

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The one tiny silver lining to the temperatures was that it never got particularly humid (31% yesterday, 50-60% today, not Arizona, but neither was it business as usual for the Northeast). Tomorrow it's supposed to be even hotter. Yikes!

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I didn't go to any particular fireworks display, since a couple of my neighbors put on pretty decent displays in their own backyards. This year Rhode Island rescinded the statewide ban on private possession of fireworks (a state felony). They had been banned in the late seventies after a couple of well-publicized accidents involving children. It didn't help that Connecticut legalized them a couple of years ago, and that there was a store just over the border on 95. Now you can get them in Wal-Mart and even Stop&Shop. The fact that it had been a felony had never actually stopped the displays in the past. They've been going on for the ten years I've lived in this neighborhood, throughout most of the summer.
dxmachina: (Bike Snow)
I had some extra vacation days I needed to burn before New Year's, so I took one Friday. I was hoping to maybe get a couple of rides in, but it was too damn cold Friday and Saturday, and it poured all day today. Instead I pulled the bike from the truck and brought it inside, probably for the winter. Feh.

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I attached the face frames to the carcases, officially turning them into cabinets. I also added a pair of cleats to the back of each to support the back ends of the drawer slides, and even installed a couple of those.*

* I spent a good chunk of this morning fabricating a jig just to drill the holes for the drawer slide mounting screws in the face frames. Apparently they have to be placed just so or everything goes to hell in a hurry. One of the required measurements was 5/64ths of an inch (which is how far the slide needs to be positioned back from the front of the frame). Bozhe moi! I didn't even realize until today that I had a ruler marked in 64ths. OTOH, I made it from hardwood scraps left over from other projects, a piece of maple here, a piece of bubinga there, and some brass screws, so it's a thing of beauty.

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The kitchen is clean, so there is now room to make some holiday goodies.

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I was out doing some shopping Friday and spent way to much dough at Harbor Freight, home of the world's cheapest tools. Experience has taught me that it's usually better to pay a little more for well-made tools as opposed the the cheapest tools possible, but for things like clamps and such, where precision isn't really an issue, there is a lot of money to be saved by using the cheap stuff. Mostly I bought gadgets, but I did get a couple of 60" bar clamps for $11 apiece, with similar going for $30 at the Depot. I also got the world's cheapest double action air brush, on sale for $15. I'm treating it as a learner's brush, as I don't expect the quality to be very good. The thing is that a well mad air brush is anywhere from five to ten times what I paid for this one. And who knows, it could surprise me.
dxmachina: (Chemistry01)
So, it's time to start making some Christmas truffles. When I was out and about at various stores this morning I was thinking about laying in some raw materials, but I also remembered that I still had some of the materials left over from last year. I also wasn't exactly sure how many batches I would need to make. Still, I knew that I had none of one essential ingredient, cream cheese, in the house, and by happy coincidence Stop and Shop is running a buy one get one free special on Philly. That works out to a buck a package, so I picked up four. I also got a bag of shredded coconut and couple of bags of white chocolate chips at Wal-Mart. Now to figure out how much I actually need.

Planny Stuff... )

Of course the other thing that must needs be done before anything else is cleaning the kitchen. Sigh...
dxmachina: (Hammer)
Happy Thanksgiving!

It's kind of a crummy day out, but it's not pouring or snowing, so small blessings. I managed to fulfill my major Thanksgiving related task last night with a lightning quick raid on Schartner's pie counter not ten minutes before closing, securing a package full of fresh pumpkiny goodness. (I was worried because I didn't get out of work until 5:35 because I volunteered to wait for the FedEx man to arrive. Schartner's closes at 6:00 during the winter, so it was a near thing indeed.)

Today it's off to Jersey for dinner with the family, then a visit with Al and Durrah, with side orders of hobby shopping and pie eating.

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Meanwhile, I finished my nerd hole desk project, aka, the flight sim station. Details to still come, but here's a couple of photos.

Photos behinds the cut... )
dxmachina: (I Got a Rock)
Gonna be a long day, even apart from the time change. I woke up at 3:30 (EDT) and never did fall back to sleep. Finally got up around 4:15 or so. Flipped on the computer, and then remembered the time change and that I hadn't changed the clocks, and that it was actually 3:15. It's now approaching 6 AM (EST), and I've already had breakfast and have been fiddling on the computer for two and a half hours or so. Sigh. The one day of the year designed for sleeping in, and my body decides to have none of it.

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Life has been sporadic around here. Posting has been sporadic because there hasn't been much to talk about, so I haven't. I've been working on one project that wound up being way more complicated than I intended, but it is now in the home stretch... I think...

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Yesterday was kind of a weird day. Very warm for October, in the seventies, and wicked windy. I had the windows open all day. Fortunately for the event, the rain held off until after 10 PM or so.

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The first batch of trick-or-treaters showed up around 5:45. What was odd was that usually the kids who show up that early are the really little ones. These girls were all 10-11 or so. Then nothing till almost 6:30. Between 6:30 and 7:00 I got six or seven clumps, then nothing after that. I kept the porch lights on till 7:30, then went and made dinner. Got 26 kids overall, which I thought was light, until I read last year's entry. Last year I got 27, and several of those were older kids around 8:00. There was really only one clump of older kids this year, and they asked for canned goods for the food pantry.

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My end of the street was kind of barren for the kids last night. Of my immediate neighbors, only the neighbor to the left was giving out treats. My neighbor to the right wasn't home. Neither was anyone at home directly across the street (which is another story, as it may or may not be vacant), and of the two houses on either side of that one, one had the lights on but no one home in a major breach of Halloween etiquette, and the other folks were home, but with the lights out.

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I am not quite sure what the deal is with the house across the street. It was sold around six years ago, and a college-age woman moved in. A bit later, a guy about the same age moved in as well, but it became pretty clear that he was more likely her brother than a boyfriend. Then she apparently moved out, and he continued to live there, and eventually a couple of other guys moved in. Then one night a U-Haul truck pulled up, they all moved out, and the house was vacant for a few months. Then the people who actually owned the house showed up (because clearly the kids didn't) and started either finishing or renovating the basement (it's a raised ranch). Then the young woman moved back in for awhile (by this time I'd pretty much come to the conclusion that the kids must be the children of the actual owners) then moved out, then back in again, and occasionally the brother would be there, too, although now he was living downstairs while the sister lived upstairs. This has gone on for six years, with little rhyme or reason to the schedule that I can deduce. Meanwhile, the father (who apparently is a contractor) and brother refurbished the exterior, and did other improvements. The last iteration had both sister and brother living there, along with the brother's girlfriend/SO/spouse?. Then a few months ago the sister was gone, with the brother and now pregnant SO still living in the basement. Then about a month and a half ago they moved out, too. The house was vacant again until last weekend, when I noticed the sister's Jeep in the driveway. It was in and out all week, but it's gone again this weekend.

I'm living across the street from a guest house. Must be nice.

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My riding schedule was sporadic all summer. Thanks especially to all the rain we had this year, I never did get a good schedule. It wasn't until the first week of October that I managed to string rides on three consecutive days together. Still, I've managed to get past 1300 miles for the year, and with another 23 miles or so I'll have my second best total ever. It's nowhere near what I did last year, but there's still a couple of months left.
dxmachina: (Chainsaw)
My 14 year-old nephew requested and received a chain saw for Christmas.
dxmachina: (Chemistry02)
Previously on The Trouble with Truffles, things went swimmingly. Thus enabled, I decided to try some more experiments this time out. I mean, what could possibly go wrong? *

* I say this after reading an article about amateur scientists who are experimenting with genetic manipulation in their basement laboratories. At least the worst I ever did with my chemistry set was clear the house out with hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg gas). I wasn't trying to make no frankenbugs. **

** By coincidence, Bloom County is rerunning the set of strips wherein Oliver's dad gives him a chemistry set and hilarity ensues.



Anyway, back to the truffles. I tried three new flavors, maple, butterscotch, and caramel, using my usual recipe.

Lab notebook... )


Christmas

Dec. 28th, 2008 08:22 am
dxmachina: (Hangover)
Am home. Christmas was fine, relaxing even. Traffic on the trip down was negligible, especially since the work that was being done on the Tappan Zee seems to be done. Coming back last night was a little trickier, because it was foggy in spots, especially along the Palisades, and there was more traffic. The traffic thinned out around 10 pm, about the time I got to New Haven, which made things easier.

I received way too much loot, and not a clunker amongst the booty. Highlights include the complete Emma Peel Avengers mega-set, Flight Simulator X, and a 1/350th scale model kit of the Bismarck that I can display alongside the Hood that I got a couple of Christmases ago. If I ever get around to building them both.

The best news of the season was word that my honorary brother is now a grandfather, as his DiL gave birth to a little boy, Phoenix Kylar, on the 23rd.

New Path

Dec. 14th, 2008 08:36 am
dxmachina: (Bike 04)
I spent a good chunk of yesterday at work, patching servers and working on my Christmas card. The card is done and printed, so that's out of the way. Very painless this time around since I'd chosen the image almost a year ago, and it required no manipulation other than a little cropping. Easy peasy. Now to figure out who to send 'em to, and then whether I have current addresses.

Afterward I layered up and went for a ride around the base, including the new Quonset bike path. The path is actually the old navy service road (aka Sanford Drive/Marine Road) that runs up to the northeast corner of the base, past the old navy landfill/superfund site next to Allen Harbor. It's actually quite pretty now that the site has been remediated, with terrific views of the bay. It's quite short, about a mile long, but it looks like they may be extending it along the old perimeter road as well.

It was quite cold, below freezing even, despite being very sunny. (Fortunately, we got none of the ice that hit the rest of New England, just bucketloads of rain.) My cold weather gear kept me warm enough, so that was good. The exposed parts of my face were excruciatingly cold for the first half mile or so of the ride, but once the blood got flowing it was fine. Near the end of the ride I managed to rip out the crotch of my windproof pants. They got caught somehow on a little metal outcrop just below the heel of the saddle as I was getting back on the bike after a stop. Then they caught again when I got off the bike at the end, completing the destruction. I have a second pair, so I can still ride, but it is annoying.

This morning I made biscuits from scratch (well, Jiffy Mix, actually), and they turned out really well. That's a first.

Halloween

Oct. 31st, 2008 09:34 pm
dxmachina: (I Got a Rock)
Weird night, treat-giving-wise. Got 27 kids in two widely spaced waves. Had 16 from about 6:45 to 7:00, in five clumps and a single. Then nothing more until about 7:45 when the rest came in two clumps. The last one was some kids pushing high school age. I turned off the lights at eight.

Lots of Star Wars costumes. The most adorable kid was the kindergarten-age little boy in a Flash costume who was the only non-clump. Just him and his parents. I'm pretty sure it was his first time knocking on the doors on his own. Very shy.

One thing I wound up doing differently this year than in the past was that I handed out the treats rather than letting the kids select their own from the bowl. I always did that because I always liked choosing when I was a kid. There are a couple of problems with that, though. Giving them the option seems to stun the kids. They don't know how to react. Plus, most of the kids are standing there holding their bags open with both hands, so then they have to figure out what to do with the bag. Still, I always felt it was worth it. Tonight though, when I offered the first kid to show up his choice from the bowl, he scooped up about five candy bars. I made him put a couple back, and admonished his clumpmates to take only one. After that I handed the candy out.

It's not that I mind when a kid takes an extra. I certainly way had more than enough. But lets not be piggy about it.
dxmachina: (Hangover)
Spent the holiday at brother #2's house, which was fun. Ate way too many Christmas cookies and discovered Yeungling Black and Tan. Better yet, he loaned me his hammer drill, so now I can put up some shelf brackets on the concrete walls down in the basement. We also talked about doing the Five Boroughs bike ride in May.

Got lots o'loot, with the emphasis on DVD sets. Got the complete Monty Python's Flying Circus set, the first two seasons of Newsradio, the only season of Crusade, and Buffy season 5, plus a couple of other things that were also on my Amazon wishlist, so I have plenty to watch while I'm home between now and the New Year. Already started in on Newsradio, which still makes me laugh like a loon. I also watched the first several episodes of WKRP in Cincinnati (downloaded from the web) on Christmas Day, so there's been a bit of compare and contrast going on in my mind about the two shows.

Compounded the loot factor by stopping at an outlet mall on the drive home yesterday and buying myself some presents. Picked up three sweaters, a pair of pants, some kitchen stuff, and a B&D Workmate portable workbench. The Workmate was regularly $30, on sale for $15, with another 20% taken off at the register. $12! I also picked up a new wristwatch, a Timex, for $20. I was going to look at somewhat pricier watches because my current watch appears to be on it's last legs. It was one of two Sierra Club watches bought for half price at Lechmere's going out of business sale ten years ago. They weren't super expensive (I paid $75 for each) but they were the most expensive watches I'd ever bought myself, and they didn't even last all that long. The other stopped keeping good time two or three years ago, and the buttons that control the digital chronograph functions on my current watch don't work anymore. I paid the watch hospital $70 about a couple years ago to rehab it, but it didn't help much. Plus the seals are now shot. Last time I washed my hands while wearing it, some of the water got inside. Not good. So rather than spend another $70 to try and rehab it yet again, I figure the Timex will last me almost as long for $20, and when it dies I can just chuck it with no qualms.
dxmachina: (Xmas)
While waiting for truffles to chill and such, I finally got around to doing up a Christmas card. Here's the online version.

Now to wrap presents, then it's off to Jersey.


Merry Christmas.


dxmachina: (Hobbes)
Done! The truffles are dipped and packed into eight tins, each containing about a pound of truffles. Yikes!

Dipping is still annoying. I am getting better at it. One thing that helped was adding a little shortening to the dipping mixture to thin it a little. To counteract that, the entire set of cheap plastic dipping tools that I bought last year broke. I wasn't exactly stressing them, either, which is what really made it annoying. I will especially miss the two-tined dipping fork that I'd finally managed to do some good work with before it broke. I also finally got the hang of drizzling accent coatings on the truffles (so's you can tell one type from another) on the last batch dipped. Sigh.

Details, details... )

---
I made one other candy concoction. When I was done with the milk chocolate dip, I dumped the remainder onto a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet, and spread it out with a silicone spatula. Then I poured some roughly crushed malted milk pieces (available at A.C. Moore) on top of it, lightly pressed it into the chocolate, and put it in the fridge to set. Then I cut it into pieces, and bagged 'em to add to the food baskets. Instant malted milk bark!

Now my kitchen looks like someone set off a bomb at the Wonka factory...


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dxmachina

February 2016

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