Monday, June 29, 2009


I think I've mentioned before that the Wayward house is a gaming household, video games that is—not gambling. Scoob is more your classic gamer type—the more difficult the better, and he's always up on the latest games in development and gaming news. Me, I'm more of a casual gamer—a game has to be fun, otherwise I want no part of it, and I'm usually reluctant to buy new games. I'm happy to play my old games over and over (and over)—it drives Scoob batty.

But, I have found a new game. I spent an inordinate amount of time this past weekend playing Plants vs. Zombies and had a ridiculous amount of fun, which was all well and good since the single overriding directive this past weekend was to try and stay cool and not overexert myself.

I liked it so much, that as I was about to play the demo for a third time, I just decided to purchase and download the game.

The basic goal is to plant a garden that will then fend off the zombie invasion. There are 40+ plants with different zombie-fighting properties that you unlock as you play, and each new level brings a new zombie with it's own personality and defenses. And there are lots of side games and puzzles to play to mix things up, for example, there's at least one where you play the part of the zombies instead of the plants.

So far, I think my favorite zombie is the one holding a newspaper in the photo. When the plants interrupt his reading by destroying the newspaper, he gets a little temper—kind of like me when I'm reading something good. Or when I'm playing Plants vs. Zombies!

However, there is a Micheal Jackson-like dancing zombie (the game does have a disclaimer regarding similarities to persons living or dead), um, yeah. Good thing the game was in development long before Jackson died, otherwise I'm sure there would be a lawsuit. Though it wouldn't surprise me if Rev. Jesse Jackson eventually gets his nose up in there and starts making noise about it.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

We're Cooking… and not in a good way

Dudes, it's hot. That's all I can say. We don't have air conditioning here at the Wayward house, and most of the time, that's just fine. But when the temperature gets over 90° for more than a couple days in a row with no evening breezes, it's like being in a sauna here, except that unlike a sauna, it's just as hot outside as in.

We've taken a few measures today to help keep the house cool, like blocking the sun from shining in the upper windows that don't have curtains or blinds. But seeing as it's already 88° inside, I'm guessing it's too little, too late—at least for today.

Generally, I love the heat. 75-85° is my sweet spot. Scoob, on the other hand, hates the heat. Once temperatures get around 75° he's complaining about it being "Africa hot" while I'm comfortably wearing sweatpants. I ditched the sweatpants yesterday and today I've hung a damp towel on the back of Scoob's chair. He can lean back on it whenever he wants and get a little relief.

One of our other strategies for coping with hot weather is that we don't cook when it gets this hot, though I made some yummy roasted cauliflower last week that I'm wanting to make again. Mom says, "what's the difference? Once you hit miserable, turning on the oven isn't going to change things." This from the woman who read me the riot act every time I tried to make toast for breakfast on summer mornings. But let's face it, we're not exactly craving a hot meal anyway.

So to kick off the It's Too Damn Hot to Cook collection, here's what we had for dinner last night. I've taken this to potlucks and barbecues, and it always seems to disappear.

Black Bean Salsa

Cooking time: none
Prep time: 15 minutes

    1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
    1 15oz can of black eyed peas, or white beans, drained and rinsed
    1 15oz can of diced, peeled tomatoes, drained, or the equivalent, fresh
    1½ cup frozen corn, thawed, or the equivalent, fresh
    ½ of a medium onion, chopped
    ½ of a red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
    3 jalapeƱo peppers, seeded and finely chopped
    1 Tbsp ground cumin
    juice from 2 limes
    kosher salt, to taste
    chopped cilantro, to taste

  1. Throw everything in a bowl and mix well.

Seriously, that's all. The farther in advance you make it, the more the flavors combine, but it's tasty even if you don't have time to let it sit. We don't eat a lot when it's hot like this, so this recipe works well for us, and the beans help make it filling.

Obviously, it'll taste even better with fresh ingredients, but it works well with canned/frozen staples too. We don't have a yard, so there's no way we're going to have homegrown tomatoes for this, and let's face it, fresh tomatoes from the store are just not the same, so we used the canned variety last night. Once tomatoes start coming on, I'll get fresh ones from the veggie stand for this.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


So, now that I have my computer back, I'm getting back into my routines. Here's my basic weekend morning routine:

  • Sleep in
  • Get up, use bathroom, get dressed, wash face, brush hair and teeth, slap on some make-up if I'm going to wear it
  • Make coffee
  • Turn on computer
  • Drink coffee, read email, surf the internets, read blogs, note anything interesting
  • Write post for my own blog

  • For the last several weeks, I've been only able to access the internet from work, which has done a couple of things for me. I've realized just how frickin' slow my home computer is, and I've realized how much time I put into surfing and blogging from home. Take this morning for example.

    I usually cruise through my iGoogle pages each day, reading the latest headlines on some of my favorite blogs and news outlets, loading and reading any posts that sound interesting. Then I cruise over to Digg and take a look at what's new there.

    I do this nearly everyday. When I do this from work, it takes about 30 - 45 minutes. So far, it has taken me nearly 4 hours to do this same routine this morning (now afternoon) from home, and I haven't even hit the Digg pages yet. At this point I don't think I'm going to, either.

    Most of the extra time is spent waiting for pages to load, or playing solitaire while I wait for the browser to switch from tab to tab. I'm so looking forward to getting a new machine, but I'm not looking forward to cleaning this one out. I'm thinking about getting an external hard drive so I can start moving documents and photos over now, given how pokey this machine has been, it'll probably take until August to do that anyway. If I wait until I bring my new baby home, I'll probably never do it, because I won't even want to turn this beast on when I have a shiny new toy to play with.

    Actually, now that I pause to think about it, I wonder if maybe moving those files to an external drive, especially the photos, wouldn't help speed this machine up a bit by freeing up some memory. I dunno, the computer tells me that I'm using less than 50% of the memory as it is, but whenever I ask it to perform even the simplest function, it maxes out:

    That graph shows me opening a browser, and selecting several links to open as new tabs. Damn thing looks like it's having a seizure or something. At some point, the computer usually screams "no more!" and I'm forced to reboot.

    So anyhow, I think the external drive is a good idea, whether or not it improves the performance of this machine. Now, let's see if I can find a good one at a good price. I know, exciting stuff.

    Monday, June 22, 2009

    For the Birds

    We have a lot of birds around our house; cute little black-headed brown-bodied birds, bright orange-red-headed birds, little yellow birds with amazing vocal chords, hummingbirds, various hawks, blue jays, and doves (or pigeons, I've never really understood the difference). And there's a wetland wildlife area within a mile of the house that attracts Canadian geese, swallows galore, great blue herons, herons, egrets, pelicans, vultures, kites, kingfishers, pheasants, ducks, and all sorts of other birds. Except for the doves, we enjoy our avian neighbors.

    As an adaptation to flight, all birds defecate at take off in order to reduce their body weight, making flight easier. For years, decades even, I have believed that the only birds capable of defecating while in flight were seagulls. So the little bird that swooped down on me this morning and pooped like a B-2 bomber with feathers as I was getting into my car was a complete surprise. Thankfully, most of his payload landed on the car and not me.

    So that got me thinking, was this little bird a sign of genetic mutation and evolution (we've been watching Heroes, yo), or have I been laboring under a delusion all these years? I can't recall where I picked up that "fact" about seagulls, but now I'm thinking I may have to reanalyze this core belief… and it's only Monday.

    Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Happy Father's Day

    So today is Father's Day. I rarely have the opportunity to hang out with dear dad (notice I didn't include the old part) on Father's Day; and this year is no exception. Dad is a trucker, and he's almost always on the go, and almost always several hundred miles from wherever I am. Not intentionally, of course, that's just the way it is. When dad's not driving he's usually taking his federally required down time in his truck, at his house in Oregon, or at grandpa's house in Humbodlt County, California.

    Dad started driving an 18-wheel truck when I was about 8 or 9, and riding with him was always a treat. Back then he did two short runs each day hauling plywood from a lumber mill on the coast to a railyard further inland and he was home every night. The days I would get to ride with dad are probably the only days in my life I've been woken up willingly, and happily, before dawn.

    Those days we would head to the mill and dad would do whatever he did to get the guys to load up his truck and I would sit inside the cab, pretty much staying out of harms way. At least until the forklift was done, after that dad would need to strap down the load. At some point I started helping dad with this. I say helping in the loosest possible sense. I couldn't even throw the straps over the load all the way, so he would need to climb on top of the load and to kick them over the other side, where I would try to finish strapping the load. Dad always needed to undo and redo whatever I had done. But he never complained.

    Though he did seriously freak out the one time when after throwing the straps on top, he was away talking to the foreman or somebody, and I had climbed on top of the load to kick the straps over and he couldn't see me when he came back to the truck. Dad's freak outs are pretty mild; he doesn't do drama, but you know when he's upset. Eventually I was able to throw the straps completely over the load.

    Once dad figured out I wasn't going to stay put in the truck, he made sure I learned to hook up the straps correctly so that he only needed to tighten them down after me instead of undoing them. At some point, probably when I was about 12, he says a was getting the straps on to where he couldn't tighten them anymore. It was a point of pride for both of us. Yup, I'm a trucker's daughter.

    We would usually stop to grab a bite on the first trip to the railyard. One time we stopped at a restaurant, I think it was the Twin Pines. I'd never really eaten breakfast at a restaurant and I didn't know how to order eggs the way I liked them, at least not without my mom there to tell me what I liked. Actually, I didn't know how to order, period.

    I knew I wanted pancakes; okay. But waffles sounded good too; okay. And eggs, scrambled, soft boiled, poached, fried over-easy, fried sunnyside-up; okay, okay, okay, okay, and okay. Oh, and bacon, must have bacon; okay. And sausage; okay. And orange juice to wash it all down; okay. Dad let me order all of it, a la carte no less, then he ordered his own breakfast. I'm sure the waitress thought we were looney. But dad's one of those people who feels we all learn best by doing and making mistakes.

    I learned that my eyes are bigger than my stomach (hello, pancakes and waffles and 5 types of eggs?), I don't like soft boiled eggs, and that breakfast ain't cheap that way. I must have thought breakfast was a flat rate and you just ordered what you wanted. Hell, I don't know what I thought. Dad loves this story and tells it often; I'm sure he remembers more about that day than I do.

    Being a trucker's daughter, I enjoy driving and pride myself on being a good driver. That doesn't mean I always use my turn signals (though I do more often than I don't) and it certainly doesn't mean that I obey all posted speed limits. But it does mean that I control my vehicle, am aware of what other drivers are doing, and am courteous on the road. It also means that I drive a stick shift.

    Mom and my step-dad did their fair share of time with me behind the wheel when I got my learners permit, but we pretty much kept to empty parking lots. Most of my practical behind the wheel learning was with dad. He taught me how to look at something on the side of the road without driving off the road. He taught me how to get over passing anxiety and pass on the interstate and how not to hang out in a truck's blind spots. He taught me how to down shift and how to slip a clutch, though that lesson nearly killed us both.

    Dad had me practice how to slip a clutch on a dirt embankment. The river was on the other side of the embankment--at the bottom of a cliff. The first time I managed to slip the clutch without killing the engine, I had given it too much gas and nearly took us over the cliff, all I could see over the hood of the pickup was open space and the river below. I'm pretty sure dad was freaked out then too, but I was more freaked out. I just remember how calm he seemed as he refused to take over the driving and coaxed me into putting the truck in reverse and getting off the embankment.

    He's been driving the western states now for around 26 years and when I pass a truck with the company logo, I always look to see if it's him, and I've never seen him, up until a couple of weeks ago. I was driving home from work and looked up into the cab when I passed the company truck. I had to circle around a second time to make sure it was him since I'd only caught a glimpse of his beard and glasses the first time. We talked on our cell phones and I invited him home for dinner, but he had to keep moving to make his drop off and pick up on time in Bay Area traffic. Even though I didn't see him face-to-face, seeing him on the road made my day, actually, it made my day for a few days.

    Happy Father's Day, dad. I love you.

    Friday, June 19, 2009

    Peep. Peep, peep.

    My computer is still alive (barely) and so am I.

    Well that only took about 3 weeks to replace the adapter on the home computer, while at work, my hard drive died, was replaced, and the entire machine rebuilt in about 3 days, all the while I've been feeling pretty cutoff from the world over here. We don't get the major network television stations, so no evening news; we don't take a newspaper, so there's no print news either. It seems that I get nearly all my news and information over the internets, and you know I was being the dutiful employee that I am and did not use my work computer to surf the internet. Nope, not me.


    Okay, so yeah I did—just a little. Actually I've been kind of slammed at work so the fact that all my favorites and bookmarks were wiped out on the rebuilt machine was probably a blessing in disguise.

    So anyhow, I'm back and I'll have to get back into the habit of blogging again. So what's happened since my last post?

    Let's see, there's still no new vacuum cleaner. I knew it would take us a while to make a decision, so I stopped by our local vacuum/sewing repair shop (does anyone know why you never just see a vacuum repair shop or a sewing repair shop? It's always vacuum and sewing) to get a few spare belts to keep us going while we decide. I asked the repairman what might be causing the belt burning and he said we may have the head set too low for the carpet pile. So we're going to try that for a while and maybe take it in for him to look at before we go buy a new one.

    I did get the results from my biopsy—there is some low-grade cell change, which is to be expected with HPV, though there's nothing to be worried about at this point. I'll need to go in for annual check-ups every 6 months now so the doctor can keep an eye on things. In other doctor-y news, I went to the dentist. I know. Thrilling.

    I did end up making the trip north for my little cousin's graduation. I'm really glad I went, turns out I had 2 little cousins graduating high school (the other just hadn't sent out invites). And 2 other cousins that I don't know so well were also graduating. Thank goodness they were all graduating from the same high school.

    We had a big barbecue for everyone, and it was a lot of fun. I so need to remember to check on local events before I start the next trip up. Turns out graduation weekend was also Redwood Run weekend in Piercy (the last little town on Hwy. 101 before I get off the highway). Which means lots of Bikers, and "bikers," and lots of police. The area was just lousy with police the entire weekend. I think I passed about 10 police/sheriff cars on the drive up, which meant I couldn't drive the way I normally drive.

    The other major event up there I've tried traveling during is Reggae on the River.

    So anyhoozits, I think that gets us just about caught up. Now I'll have to go out and troll the internet for something interesting.

    Monday, June 8, 2009

    Out of Commission

    Oh. People. I have not been having any luck with compters this past week. Last Thursday the hard drive on my work computer took a dirt nap. Our fabulous, wonderful IT crew had a spare, which kept my up and running while they ordered a new hard drive (800 gig!!) and rebuilt my computer.

    So today is Monday and I'm back on my old machine at work. Hardly even noticed a ripple. Oh, all except for the part where IT told me to back up all the documents on my hard drive to one of the servers. Which I did, and didn't do. I mean I thought I did, but what I really did was make shortcuts to all the documents on my hard drive and saved those to the server. So the only shortcuts that work are the shortcuts to the pre-existing shortcuts that were already on my hard drive. Everything else is toast.

    On the home front, Scoob ordered an new AC power supply adapter for my laptop, which arrived last Thursday. Except that the Dell 9100 Inspirion 19.5V-7.7A power supply adapter they sent was a 19V-1.58A adapter that doesn't even plug into a Dell 9100 Inspirion. Gah. Scoob's been trying to get the company we ordered from (third party through Amazon) on the phone so we can get the right part.

    In the meantime, I'm still pretty much out of commission.