Mixed Bag

This weekend was good - I went up to Breckenridge for a retreat with a professional organization (Women in Design) I joined this year. It's a non-profit organization that was created to advocate for and educate women in the "built environment." That means female architects, engineers, project managers, and interior design professions mostly (the first two being professions in which women are underrepresented). I was drafted for the position of co-chair for communications. As I expected this might happen, you might say I volunteered for it. It will be a lot of work, but it'll be good for my resume, good for developing my management skills, and good for the community at large. It will not be good for my social life, but as that is currently non-existent, it appears to be no big loss.*
The main downer of the weekend is that I lost my cellphone somewhere up there. I discovered the lack just as I and the woman with whom I was carpooling were pulling out of the parking lot. We stuck around for another couple hours scouring the condo at which we were staying, my luggage, the route between the pub at which we ate and the condo, and waiting for the bartender to get in, in case the phone had been turned in after the management closed the office of the pub. No phone. We left contact info and I re-searched my bag when we got back, but still no phone. SO, I'm going to a Verizon store tomorrow to get a new one. The big bummer is that I really liked the design of that phone. [sigh] We'll see what options I have tomorrow.

Hope all y'all's weekends were fun!

* I realized later how self-pitying this statement is. The truth is, who knows what'll lead to me meeting someone I like who likes me back?


New FB Game

I'm playing an interesting Facebook game called "Country Story." It's a bit more simplistic than Farmtown, but because of this, it's not as time consuming. (Plus, there are very cute animals to take care of.)
One funny thing is that you can pay game coins to buy backdrop scenes for your farm. They show you a small portion to whet your appetite for them. I was charmed by a seaside scene with a funny little sea monster. When I had a surplus of money, I went ahead and bought it. Turns out they went a little overboard and put in a bunch of sea monsters in a row, which appear out of the sea, one after the other. It is cute, but SO silly, because now it looks like I have a sea monster cabaret behind my farm!
I tried to capture it for you, but it was tricky.

(The monsters that appear to be missing eyes are actually blinking.)

Really, it's cute when there's just one. Four is a bit much.



I loved this! Apologies if you've seen it a thousand times, but I love what these herdsmen have done with some sheep, a few dogs, a little paint or LEDs, and A LOT of time on their hands...

Hardworking sheep, eh?


Long Week

It's been a long week -- or rather, the week has been the same length, but the days have been long. I've got my mum all to myself starting this evening, so I've had to bow out of the weekend push on this project. Oh, well. Next time, I'm sure.
Can you tell I'm all broken up about it? I hide it well. ;)

I'm looking forward to next week, when this project goes into a lull and the other project finishes up. I should have a series of short days (or some days off entirely).

Hope everything's been going well for you all!


Linden Procreation

During one of the meetings here at the office, I saw out the window a twirling leaf fall to the ground. It reminded me of the helicopter maple seeds, but I knew the tree outside is an American Linden. (It's actually one of the biggest/oldest Lindens in the state and the design of the new building is a response to the desire to keep it.) My curiosity aroused, I looked at the falling leaves when I left the meeting and here's what I found:
The leaf itself is wonderfully developed into a natural helicopter shape, with the seed, as ballast, growing down from the middle.

The whole tree (note that it is still green - it seems just a few leaf/seeds are falling right now).
The curb collects the pale golden curls.

Very cool, isn't it?


State of the Farmtown

I'm still doing Farmtown, though I have to schedule my plantings so that I only have to visit the farm twice a week (beginning of weekend to harvest/plow, end of weekend to plant). Everyday was killin' me. I'm trying out planting three day crops, which is cutting it kinda close. 3 day crops are mature in 60 hours and (in theory) rotted in 120 hours. 120/24 = 5 days. I would like to wait until Friday after work to harvest. Having planted them at 10ish on Sunday means I have until 10ish on Friday. Cuttin' it a little close, but I have the money to recover if, for some reason my calcs are off. I just hate seeing wasted fields.
[sigh] I guess we'll see.
Here, in the meantime, is my latest pattern, and I think it's pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself...


Marshmallows, Fer Reals

I mentioned on Twitter and Facebook that I had made homemade raspberry marshmallows. Needless to say, it drew attention.

The recipe I used is from here (excellent food blog, by the way). I did a half batch and pureed raspberries instead of strawberries. I also used only powdered/confectioner's sugar for the dusting. (On a previous occasion, I tried the sugar blended with rice flour like they have in the recipe, but I found it to be a little to dry/gritty. Perhaps the rice flour I was using wasn't a fine enough grind, but ultimately, the powdered sugar does great, so I'm sticking with that from now on.)
Here's a picture of the block o' marshmallow, before cutting:
And here's in progress (I bought the big pizza cutter specifically for this purpose):
The half batch makes a little bit too few. You get to share, but only with one group. Sharing with multiple groups leaves everyone feeling shorted. However, a whole batch makes a little bit too many and feels like it takes forever to cut up.
Last week, I had made vanilla marshmallows (with the aforementioned rice flour and sugar dusting), a whole batch, and it went over quite well. I used the Mexican vanilla that Michelle gave me and the excellent flavor really came through.
I brought in both flavors to the office and both were greatly appreciated, though I got a bit of a scare. My boss, one of the principals, came over and sat down near my desk and opened with, "I need to share two conflicting complaints..."
Oh, geez. I thought. I knew it had to happen eventually. Nothing is ever perfectly happy all the time and I know I have some flaws I'm working on...
"First, you took the raspberry marshmallows home. And second, that you brought them both in." Whew! (I took the raspberry ones home, by the way, so that I can share them with family this weekend. :D)

There were a few questions the last time I mentioned these:
1. The recipe is really easy, but you must have a stand mixer with a whip attachment. (in theory, you could try a hand-held mixer, but I have serious doubts about it working.)
2. I think they ship OK. The fruit is fresh, but it's mixed in with a ton of sugar, which is an excellent preservative.

The base recipe is here. A spirited discussion of marshmallow variants is here. A special thank you to Nightscotsman (aka Neil Robertson) for sharing this recipe with us all.


Cruiser vs. Sportbike (Not Really)

While Jen A. was here, I pointed out the cherry red Suzuki I saw downtown (the actual one that prompted the post, not a photo). She looked it over and asked "so what do you like about it?" Since she is the owner of a purple Kawasaki Ninja, I interpreted the question accordingly to be "it doesn't appeal to me, but I'm interested in understanding why it appeals to you." I gave her some kind of scattered answer, but have been thinking about it ever since.
Here's what I've come up with:
I don't really like cruisers as a type. I effing hate some of the stretched out deformed looking "choppers." I think they take something that is beautiful and based on function and screw it up for the sake of image.
I also don't really like sportsbikes as a type. They look uncomfortable to me (edited to add: I saw another picture of Jen's bike (with a different Jenn riding) and admit that it doesn't actually look uncomfortable - some more extreme sportbikes do, and that's the mental image I have of them) and I don't like the strange bulge of the tank. They are functional, and specifically designed for speed, so they have that in their favor.
What I like is that a motorbike connects me back to people like this:That, dear readers, is the incomparable Steve McQueen in a scene from The Great Escape. (Actually, to be completely honest, it might be his buddy, Bud Ekins, since he also stunt riding for the jump.) McQueen is a poster boy for motorcycling in the 60s and early 70s. He even competed (as a semi-professional, even though his movie contracts forbid it). He and that time period exemplify for me the coolness of motorcycling. Bikes back then were lean and functional. They were a symbol of freedom and non-conformity, not a two wheeled couch that you park in front of the bar and afford with a second mortgage.
So, with that in mind, it's not surprising that one of the first dealerships I visited when looking at what my next bike will be, I went to a Triumph dealership.This is McQueen on a Triumph (back in the 70s, by his haircut), and the brand prides itself of the pedigree of it's lines. They even have a line of bikes, called "modern classics," all with retro design. That really appeals to me. The Suzuki cruiser I like is not just any of their cruisers. It's the leanest and nearly the smallest of their cruiser line. It's retro styling with a comfy riding position (haven't checked on footpeg position -- wouldn't want it to be forward of my knee). It could almost pass as an older bike. Most cruisers don't fill that qualification for me.

So, that's what I like about that bike, Jen. It's a link back to the old days of motorcycling.



Here's one of my latest projects. It's a restoration of a civil landmark here in Denver. It's interesting, and at least people know what structure I'm describing when I say what I'm working on, but I doubt I'd want to do historic preservation for the rest of my life.
I love this photo. It is extremely practical (as the purpose was to see the entire end facade as square-on as possible) and yet it has lovely layers and depth, looking back through and beyond to the next step back and the next and the next.


Good Boys

I finished Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys over the weekend. The characters were well drawn (though one of them makes a transition at the end that is a hair's breadth too quick) and the arc of the storyline is very comfortable, but still entertaining and surprising. My favorite part is that he used stories within the stories (I love that kind of structure). In short, it was the sort of good book that inspires me to write. Bravo, Mr. Gaiman!


Weekend Recharge

Had a lovely weekend seeing friends (Janiece & the SmartMan, and Stacey & JR, to be specific) and family (Uncle Sam). The weather has been great. I've been tooling around on the bike all weekend. This afternoon has been full of lounging in the backyard and catching up on internet news.

I love weekends.

Later, in the evening: And now it's raining. Perfect! :D


An Exchange:

Scene - sitting outside with the cats, Matti laying nearby, Martin investigating near the stairs to the deck

Me [to Matti]: How you doing, bub?
Martin: Brrrowl? (translation: Who me? I wasn't doin' nothin'. Just looking around. Not guilty at all!)


Funny Peculiar

Do you think women place greater importance on compliments from males than they do from other women? (And men on compliments from women?) Why do you think that is?
I had an experience recently that surprised me, because it seemed to indicate that I do that. I'm not sure why. I would rather believe that I place greater importance on compliments from those whom I respect, regardless of gender.

On the other hand, what I *really* should be reinforcing for myself is that both compliments and insults are more about the giver than the recipient. They express his or her opinion and view of the world, which is, for better or worse, skewed.

Contrast and compare...

(And yes, I'm trying to go to bed on time, but not having much success. Toodleoo...)


Cool Folks

I like the people I work for.
They pretty much ordered me to stay out of the office today (except for a two hour meeting at the City and County Building).
I had a delightfully random day. I (not in order) made vanilla marshmallows (too many, AGAIN - I really need to put a note on the recipe to do a half batch next time), sat outside with the cats and read, slept in, planted my FT fields, watched The Spanish Prisoner (and did NOT do something else at the same time, just lay on the couch), sorted my kitchen utensil drawer, did random things.
It was nice.

Right now I have The Usual Suspects while updating my blog. :)


Shocking, I Know

This job may turn me into a coffee drinker.