Conference Download

I meant to post a download of some of the interesting stuff I learned at the conference that ate my weekend, but forgot my notes at work. So, here's at least one link to get you started:

Worldchanging.com -- "a venue to find, discuss and imagine the world's most innovative solutions to the planet's most pressing problems." One of the guys who started this site spoke to us on Friday morning. He was very impassioned, and had some great links (that I hope to include here tomorrow).

Arup.com -- The best talk (in my opinion) was the final one by Gary Lawrence of Arup. I loved the global thinking he brought to each of the issues he talked about. I wouldn't mind working for them except they don't have a Denver office. Maybe I can convince them to open one. ;)


TiVo Blues

The TiFaux that my brother gave/lent me a few years ago crapped out recently, and in a fortuitous turn of events, some friends were giving up cable for a while and so gave/lent me their TiVo. Unfortunately, I don't have a telephone land line (cancelled it for economics) and that's the primary way it gets info and the way they used it. There is a "connect to home network" option, but requires a USB adaptor that works with this system. I'm not even sure if what I have IS a home network.

I'm sure my brother and BIL will help me, but it's frustrating. I want to plug it in and just have it work!

In fact, I have that desire about other parts of my life too. Why can't anything be easy these days?

Later: I was right, they both helped me figure out what to buy and where to buy it. Now I have to wait for it to come in the mail. Argh! The Waiting! ;)


Buzz buzz

Jeez, I'm getting really crappy at keeping up the blog.
Here's a rundown of the things that have kept me busy:
- Sunday: Went to see Burn After Reading. Funny and weird. Aileen, Brian will love this. Make sure he sees it. The acting is superb and Brad Pitt is hilarious. There's one scene where he's trying to be intimidating, so he narrows his eyes threateningly, but it comes off as just SO funny. I love that part. John Malkovich is a perfect foil for him, being actually intimidating (as he can do so well). Anyway, I enjoyed it.
- Monday: Heroes premiere. YAYAYAYAYAY! It was good. All the characters are mixed around in a new way and some of their motivations have changed, but all believably. That's one of the things I like best about the show. The characters evolve. Anything can happen, but generally in a believable way. And there's a little bit of good and bad in everyone. It's such a good show (beginning of the second season notwithstanding).
- Tuesday: My friend, Lisa, is going "home" to take care of her ailing dad, so her friends put together a little going away night out. It was lots of fun, mainly because Lisa is such a funny, intelligent, and insightful woman. The really neat thing is that we are fast friends after only meeting a handful of times. I hope to see her around here sometimes. (Mental note: send her a link.)
- Wednesday: Went out with Stacey and JR for drinks at Steuben's (because they have yummy mixed drinks, like the Dark and Stormy). Turns out they also have yummy Trout Almandine, which was served with greenbeans, potato slices, and sliced grapes. I was surprised by the addition of the grapes, but it was really good! Having them sliced was a great way to make it blend more with the other flavors. So, bravo, Steuben's.

And here's what's going to make me busy for the next two/three days:
I'm going to my first work-related conference, the AIA Colorado 2008 Design Conference. It should be a good opportunity to feel more like an architect than a construction manager, do a little networking, and maybe catch up on some friends I haven't seen in a while. It's not far away, just in Vail, but I'm hoping to have a bit of a vacation/escape. We'll see. From the schedule, it seems like a time intensive event.
I'll try and post while I'm there, so you'll get to hear all the hijinx I'm up to, but we'll see what the online services are. :/

Take care of the place while I'm gone and don't worry about getting the chocolate stains out of the new chair, it's chocolate colored. ;)


Free Book Followup

Well, the Free Book Giveaway is over. I've posted the remaining books on PaperBackSwap. I'll wait to go through my current "To Read" pile before getting more from PBS. (If one of you ends up signing up and wants to credit me with the reference, just use my email address.) At present, I have 16 books (not all paperbacks) posted. Considering how long it will take me to read my backlog, I should have quite a bit of credit built up. I'll let you know how it goes. :)

Oh, a word on the Book Giveaway. Three strangers contacted me for books after having found me by Googling for "free books." Amazing that people will search for such things. Two of them followed up by sending me addresses (both in OK, oddly enough), so I sent them the books they requested. Interesting, eh?



Sorry I've been away from my blog without providing entertainment. Work's been a bit crazy. Building "completion" (which I put in quotes because it's a phased completion and we're approaching the first, if largest, phase, not the final completion) is scheduled for next Tuesday. Normally, this is a big deal for the contractor, but not so much for me, as all critical questions should have been resolved long ago. HOWEVER, there are a couple things that have come up late in the game that require my knowledge of code and my communication skills to bring to a close. So, it's been a bit hectic. It should be fine in the long run, but things are a little stressful until then.
The day before yesterday, I was home in the evening, but I was busy wrapping up books and putting addresses on them. Yep, I've sent out the Free Books. I did have one more salvo, but am too tired and lazy to post them here at the moment (they were kind of random books anyway), so I'll probably put them up for grabs at Paperback Swap. So, huzzah! If you asked for a book, it's on its way to you! Media mail, of course, so slower than first class mail, but I think you'll manage.
Tonight, after a little work overtime, I wasn't feeling up to going grocery shopping for dinner fixings. So, I had to be creative when I got home. I pulled out some frozen pasta, little ravioli-type pouches filled with a lemon-chicken filling, cooked it up, and then, while it was still hot, mixed it with frozen peas and canned chicken (that I really need to use, 'cause I need to cycle my canned backup foods). That seemed a bit dry, so I added a few tablespoons of sour cream and then a bit of dried dill and some salt and pepper. Voila! Yummy dinner. The only thing that it lacked was color (see photo, left). Nice to know I've still got the improv cooking mojo.

Anyway, I missed you guys and I hope to catch up on your blogs this weekend!



I went out and about with Janiece (and her Smart Man) and Michelle (and HER Smart Man) this afternoon. We had a blast hanging out at the Museum of Nature and Science. Yes, you heard me right. Hey, until you've hung out with a bunch of geeks at a nature and science museum, don't knock it.
We then had dinner at Racine's (a Denver standard) before having to leave Michelle and Michael at the train station. :(
I forgot my camera, so have no photos of food or friends or anything else, so will have to mooch of Michelle or Janiece.

Oh, and we got something fun for someone(s) and hopefully you'll hear them blog about it when it comes in the mail. MUAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHA!

(In the meantime, I'm tired and have cats to feed, so I'll post more tomorrow.)

The Next Day:
Janiece has posted some great pictures and a description of the event.
Nathan also blogged about his version of events. Yes, we called a few other UCFers. Yes, we had consumed a drink or two (depending on lightweighted-ness). Yes, we were having a good time. I hardly think that qualifies as "stinkin' drunk." Maybe a little tipsy. ;)
I'm sure Michelle and Michael will post when they get back to WV and recover from their trip. :) They are, as Janiece says, perfectly charming and funny people. I would *definitely* be friends with them regardless of where we met.

And since I didn't have a photograph last night, but do tonight:
Here is the gorgeous LOOT that Michelle and Michael gave me during their visit. It's a beautiful glass ball called a "witch ball" and according to the tag "Witch Balls were very popular during the 18th century England, but their origin is thought to be much older. For over 300 years hollow glass balls have hung in windows to ward off a Witch's spell, Evil Spirits, and Ill Fortune." I haven't figured out where to hang it so people can appreciate it's beauty, but I have a couple ideas. You can see in the photo that it's mostly clear glass with a swirl of purple around it. It's so lovely. Thank you, Michelle and Michael!

Much much later:
And now we have a report from Michelle. Go read and look at the fun pictures! :)



Said by me during a conversation (about trust) with a friend:
"[Being friends with] Anyone is a crapshoot, just some more than others."


Free Books! (Part 2)

UPDATE: The book giveaway is over. Thanks for playing!

This is the second half (first half here) of my book giveaway.


The Painter Knight, by Fiona Patton: Apparently (I didn't realize this until I just looked up the link on Amazon), this is the middle book in a trilogy. However, the blurb on the back did not make it sound like it was. It's a straight out fantasy with magic and gods and dragons (as it seems from the cover - Jody Lee is usually pretty accurate). The hero is a painter who must save the heir to the throne from (of course) evil plotters. (Great cover art.)
Kingmaker's Sword, by Ann Marston: First (ha HA!) book of the Rune Blade Trilogy. From all the flowing red hair and tartan on the cover, I'm going to hazard a guess that this is a Celtic fantasy. (Again, great cover art.)
Ship of Magic, by Robin Hobb: It's books like these that make me wish I had unlimited reading time. It looks very good - Fantasy on the High Seas - but I just don't have the time. :( The Amazon review says "reminiscent of Moby Dick and Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin series in its details of shipboard life." It's Book 1 of The Liveship Traders.
The White Raven, by Diana L. Paxson: This is a story based on the legend of Tristan and Isolde, and is (obviously) another Celtic/Arthurian Fantasy. From the reviews, the central story is one parallel to the Tristan/Isolde story.
Dragon's Blood, by Jane Yolen: Book 1 of the Pit Dragon Chronicles. The Amazon description says, "Training a dragon to be a fighting champion is the only way to freedom for fifteen-year-old Jakkin." That pretty much says it all.
Swords of Haven, by Simon R. Green: The adventures of Hawk & Fisher, a fantasy cop duo. It's actually a compilation of a trilogy about the pair, so all three parts are here. I actually read the first one, but it didn't suit my taste, so I didn't finish the book/trilogy. From the Amazon reviews, others liked it though.
Til We Have Faces, by C. S. Lewis: This is a retelling of the myth of Cupid and Psyche and is one of Lewis's classics. I just flipped through it and it looks very good too, darn it.
Moll Flanders, by Daniel Defoe: This is a book about a strong female character, scratching her way up from poverty to success in 17th century England. It was made into a movie in 1996 starring Robin Wright (now Penn). The frontpiece of the book, written by Defoe is quite telling. "The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who was Born in Newgate, and during a Life of continu'd Variety for Three-score Years, besides her Childhood, was Twelve Year a Whore, five times a Wife (whereof once to her own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at last grew Rich, liv'd Honest, and died a Penitent." Hmm, sounds a lot like the Angelique series I would sneak from my mum's bookshelf. I don't know how racy Moll Flanders (pub. 1722) is though, and so cannot comment on its suitability for Michelle's grandmother. Technically, I suppose, this qualifies as a Romance or Historical, rather than fantasy.
On the Night of the Seventh Moon, by Victoria Holt: This is also a hisorical/gothic romance, and from the reviews on Amazon, one of the author's best. As usual, it looks interesting, I just don't have the time or inclination anymore.
The Ruby in the Smoke, by Philip Pullman: Book 1 of the Sally Lockhart trilogy. I bought this because I liked The Golden Compass, but I was never able to really get into it. Another case of a good-looking book with no time to read it.

Speaking of having no time, this post has been taking too long to write. I need to get some household chores done! I will try and finish this process with the Misc. books in Part 3 tonight or tomorrow.

Again, if any of these sound interesting to you, let me know and I'll send them to you, free of charge. If I can't read them, I want them to go to a good home. :)


Free Books! (Part 1)

UPDATE: The book giveaway is over. Thanks for playing!

I am clearing off my shelves (trying to reduce clutter) and decided to finally cull my unread-books shelves. These, appropriately enough, are the shelves that contain books that I either purchased or obtained (in some fashion or another) that I have not yet read. I am slowly coming to the realization that I may never read these books.
When I was a kid, I read pretty voraciously, mostly because it was an escape from a world that I didn't think suited me very much. I still love to read, but now I also love to see friends, watch good movies, watch good TV shows, read my friends' blogs, write in my blog, write fiction, go outside, cook meals, bake brownies and cookies, and do household projects, not to mention the time needed to do things that I previously didn't have to do clean the house, go to the gym, cook meals (yes, that's in there twice), and have a social life if I ever want to have a mate. Plus, I don't need to escape as often.
So, now I have books I've had for years (I figured out how to beat the book buying addiction: don't go into bookstores, especially during a sale) that frankly, don't interest me anymore. I'd like to give them to a good home, and know of a good second-hand store, but wanted to give you guys a first crack at them. There is another option. Recently Shawn posted about a book exchange club called Paperback Swap. It looks interesting and I am sorely tempted, but I don't know that I'd use it all that much. Like I said, I don't read that quickly anymore and I do have a big backlog of books.
In the meantime, I thought I'd have a book giveaway. It's the opposite of those posts on Scalzi's Whatever, where he posts (brags) about all the free books he's gotten lately and posts a picture. It kills me that there are books sitting here unread and unappreciated and I know I just won't read them, no matter how long they sit on that shelf. So, thank goodness I didn't inherit the collecting gene (that my mum has), 'cause here goes...

My current offerings (loosely grouped by genre):

Science Fiction (not many of these, as I am currently on a SciFi bent)

The Ugly Little Boy, by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg: a time travel book about a little Neanderthal boy brought into the present. Given to me 15 years ago by a pen pal and I... dammit, can't give a gift away until I've read it. ***If you want this, let me know and I'll read it ASAP and send it to you.
Writers of the Future, Vol. IX, presented by L. Ron Hubbard: collection of short science fiction, with a few essays by L. Ron Hubbard, Octavia Butler, and Kevin J. Shwartz Anderson. (I originally had Songsmith up here, until I realized it's not in the photo, so you'll have to wait til I read it and have another giveaway to get that one.)
The Day the Televisions Stopped, by S. B. Sutton: Title is self explanatory.
Hook Man Speaks, by Matt Clark: This is more comedy/suspense, I think, and tells the story of the guy in all those campfire tales. It looks really good, I just haven't gotten around to it and admit now I won't.


The Cat Who Blew the Whistle, The Cat Who Saw Red, The Cat Who Said Cheese, and The Cat Who Talked To Ghosts, all by Lillian Jackson Braun: This is a really cute series (these are only part of The Cat Who Series, so linear readers, beware) about a journalist who solves mysteries with the aid of his two very well drawn Siamese cats.
Jane and the Wandering Eye, by Stephanie Barron: I like Jane Austen, so I thought I'd like this (picked it up at a library sale, so it's a hardback). Unfortunately, never got around to reading it. It's a mystery and the main character is Jane Austen and it's the third of the series (again, linear readers, beware).
The Wandering Arm (heh two wanderings in a row), by Sharan Newman: This is a mystery set in 12th century France. Again, looked interesting, former library hardback, third in a series (sorry!).
The Victim in Victoria Station, by Jeanne M. Dams: British mystery of some sort, hardback, 5th in a series (dammit)

OK, I've got to go, but I've got more to post - Fantasy and Historical/Nonfiction. So, I'll post part 2 of this series tonight or tomorrow morning. :)

Ah, perhaps I should say more explicitly -- let me know if you'd like any of these books and I will mail them to you, free of charge.


Janiece!!! [Yelling at Sky, a la Kirk]

Today, I was waiting for the truck to deliver my new chair (couch still backordered) and the UPS guy showed up unexpectedly. What did he have for me?
A present from Janiece! She sent me Season 1 of The Muppet Show! Some of you may recall that she inquired about whether or not I had it on DVD back at this post. Janiece, you blow me away with your thoughtfulness! Thank you so much! :)
As you may also recall, she also inadvertently rescued me from terminal melodrama (see this post) by sending DELICIOUS homemade apple butter. It is heavenly. I never really liked apple butter before, but I think I've only had storebought. Janiece's apple butter is like eating apple pie and applesauce and it's SO good. I, being cautious and restrained, only asked for 4 oz., but I think next time, I'll be asking (like many of the others who have tried it before) for the 5 gallon drum. ;D It will be really hard not to eat it all before Aileen gets back in town. Hurry Aileen!
Speaking of food, I made Michelle's delicious Bittersweet Brownies yesterday. I hesitate to recommend them, since you'd blame me the twenty pounds each of you would gain. However, I'll take the risk and say these are some of the best brownies I've ever had, possibly THE best. Yum!
And the chair? Here 'tis. The color is a dark chocolate (the flash kinda washes it out here) and the pillow (a separate purchase) really adds a nice (and adjustable) cushiness. The ottoman, you'll notice has a bit of a worn spot. That's why I got it for $50 (it's the floor model). I'll do a more general living room shot when I get the couch sometime next month. :)


Now We Know Where To Go

Gabe and Krissy spotted this sign in Steamboat Springs and had to take a photo.

If you don't know why, just pretend you do. :)

Dining Out or Review: Gemelli's

Because I know you missed my pictures of food

My good friends, Gabe and Krissy took me out for a belated congratulatory dinner for passing my exams. We went out to Gemelli's, a new Italian place in the neighborhood. It's in an old house, set back from the street and the gardens around it both hide it and provide a lovely setting for an outdoor patio with fountains and grapevine covered walls.
We got started with fresh herb bread, herb butter, and a Pino Noir called "Hob Nob" that was delicious.
We got two appetizers, bruchetta and artichoke dip (tasty, but not as good as the family recipe). The waitress looked at Gabe funny when he said he wanted to get it to "see what artichokes taste like." Krissy and I, knowing Gabe, knew it was a ruse to get a second appetizer, so when we laughed, I think the waitress figured it out.
Gabe got the Linguini Carbonara. It was suitably bacony from the pancetta and prosciutto, but a little overly creamy, without enough white wine flavor. Good, not great.
Krissy got Gnocchi Bolognese. She really enjoyed it. I don't think she'd ever had the funny little potato pasta dumplings before. The sauce was very good too. I'm going to have that next time. ;)
I got Beef Madiera (a sauce made with Madeira wine, garlic, and rosemary), served with creamy cheese risotto. The beef was good, but the risotto was a touch too dry. Again, good, but not great.
We did get dessert - Gabe and I shared a piece of chocolate cake and Krissy had ice cream (a grouping of pistachio, chocolate, and strawberry). Good food, not great.

I would definitely go again for the beautiful patio - 5 out of 5. The food so far has been good, but not stellar - 4 out of 5.


Lighten Up! (Muppet Style)

In order to lighten the way too serious mood around here lately, I present...

Musical Numbers via The Muppet Show

But we can't get too funny too fast, so here's a sad song to segue into it:
Oh Danny Boy

And a romanic song:
Feelings (One of my personal favorites)

And some classical piano

And some opera:
Habanera (Bizet's Carmen)

For the big finish:
Ode to Joy

Nothing like the Muppets to cheer you up. :)



Trading a lie for a truth is not friendship.


For the rest of you:
In a painfully funny twist of irony (that will go unexplained), I got dear Janiece's homemade apple butter in the mail today. She truly is one of the most generous tell-it-like-it-is friends I've ever had. You are the bomb, Janiece. And know that your gift arrived at just the right time. :) I'll try it tomorrow morning.
I can't wait to spend time with you and Michelle and Michael (and hopefully Terry) next week!



My previous post may have given the impression that my funk was based on a misunderstanding with a friend. It seemed to spring from that, but ultimately, I take responsibility for my reactions. Lord knows I've accidentally hurt friends (and enemies) through thoughtless pronouncements. Emotional responses are inevitable (for me, anyway) and it's my responsibility to sublimate those into useful life choices.
My friend didn't intend to hurt me. Do I say something about it? Do explain what happened and ask that we not speak about certain things (like two friends with opposing political stances might do)? Do I figure out what my association was (between what was said and how I interpreted it) and mentally disconnect it? (Actually, I've already tried that and apparently it hasn't "taken.") And how much of my emotional response was environmental (pressure changes in the weather, tiredness from staying up too late, etc.) and how much was a result of the actual event? It's that last one that I'm trying to figure out (especially since it's happened before). Actually, writing about it, I think I know exactly what pairing of condition and event elicited this reaction. Hmmmm... now what?
So, I'm processing. (And missing little kids waving at me.)

Pulling at My Bootstraps

This morning I've been in the mopes because yesterday evening a friend said something that was unintentionally hurtful. You know, the cyclical mental/emotional loops that you can't really shake until you're ready.
Then, shortly after I got to work, my coworker/friend came in and said that she and her two kids (plus one friend, so three kids) saw me and my distinctive car and were waving at me, but I didn't notice. I'm disappointed I missed it -- a car full of waving kids! :(

Moral of the story: When you're feeling super internalized, make an effort to look around you -- you are probably missing something that will raise your spirits.


Preaching to the Choir

Watching Sarah Palin's speech right now. Irony? She put down Obama's "speaking to adoring crowds" (a Republican talking point I've heard before) but who is she speaking to? Throngs of adoring Republicans who cheer at the right points and boo the right points (NEW TAXES, BOO!).

Ah, politics, how I hate thee. Turning perfectly nice human beings into automatrons of partisanship. Excuse me while I hurl.

Plants, Links, and a Movie

And what is the plant that looks like a demented geranium?
- Michelle

I don't know, Michelle, but here's another photo. There are definitely red berries on it, so it's not an actual geranium, but you're right, there is a resemblance.


I've been busy of late, so I thought I'd post some excellent writing I've run across recently.

Something logical: Secondhand Information and Its Dangers

Something humorous: A Story of Three Brothers (need I say more?)

Something emotionally mature: A Cryptic Post of Release


And if you're looking for a good movie, I'd recommend Traitor, with Don Cheedle and Guy Pearce. It's a well written and tightly plotted political thriller. The friend I saw it with claimed it was predictable, since he guessed the ending, but I guess I was caught up enough in the story and the acting not to guess it, except as a passing thought. It's also a good start for a conversation about religion and world politics. It's good and I'll give it 3 stars out of 5.


A Weekend's "Labor"

I spent half the long weekend with my friends, Stacey and JR, and their daughter, Kat, and her boyfriend, Chad. We stayed in a cabin at the YMCA resort complex in Estes Park. Seriously. They had mini-golf (which we did on Saturday afternoon and I sucked, as usual), playing fields of all sorts, a library, an indoor swimming pool, all kinds of things, really. Saturday morning, JR and Stacey and I hiked up to Mills Lake (you can see the two of them in the picture above), while Kat and Chad, being lowlanders, took a shorter hike to Bear Lake. It was gorgeous, but that's pretty standard for the Rockies.
Speaking of which, the following photos are for Michelle, who thinks the Rockies are a coniferous monoculture:

Pbbbbblllltttttt! ;P
After hiking, we went on a short horseback ride. I had a young, but sensible, horse named Hidalgo. Why sensible? He actually listened to me (unlike 90% of these trail horses). We had a good time and I wish it had been longer. I love horseback riding.
We had a good time. I always enjoy Stacey and JR's company and Kat and Chad were very entertaining. Quite literally, in fact. On the trip back, I got Chad reciting Monty Python routines. That was fine, since it kept him entertained and required no response -- kind of like listening to the radio.

I actually did some labor over the weekend. I helped my brother and his fiancee pack their moving truck on Friday (after being on the bike for two hours through a traffic jam on the way to their apartment) and then yesterday I did chores around the house.
So, a well-balanced weekend for me. Hope it went equally for you!

Now I have to be reminded it's Tuesday.