Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Presidents Day Weekend

So Cookie Monster really likes to roller skate. We took him Saturday along with his granparents (Superwoman's folks) and his aunt. A good time was had by all even grandma. Grandma took a spill right before we left, and as it turns out she broke (small hairline fracture) her elbow. Cookie Monster was out on the floor non-stop, he loved it. Which, if there was any doubt before, marks him as my boy. I had a great time I would take Cookie around a few times, then grab Cakes and do a lap. Occasionally I even got to go around by myself a few times. Cookie Monster spent the whole weekend at Grandma's and Superwoman and I enjoyed a relatively quiet weekend with Cakes. This week we will be looking for some skates for CookieMonster to tootle around the neighborhood, and I now have an official skating buddy, I think it is going to be a lot easier to justify runnng off to the roller rink now. HOOray!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Am I there yet?

Are we there yet? Are we there yet?

I keep wanting to ask myself this with my art. But I know the answer. NO!!!! Making headway on the art is slow going, feels like those road trips to Idaho I took as a kid. Anyway here are my latest drawings.
These aren't great, but I, but at least you can what my drawing is supposed to be. Although getting a good digital photograph of them is almost harder that drawing it. Sorry the pics are so fuzzy, I guess I should get my scanner working.

Tell me what you think. Remember I'm a novice, so if you feel inclined to critique make sure it is something a novice can grasp :) thx.

Not enough time.

So the evenings have been crammed lately. There just doesn't seem like there is enough time to do everything I need to do and even a few of the things I want do. Last night I got home from work late, cooked dinner (Superwoman was advising a church Youth Group like she does every Wednesday), read to the kids for a bit & put them to bed. 9:00 PM, where did my day go?

I have been working on my drawing lately, read more here. The problem is, I have a hard time finding any time to draw. So I have ended up staying up till 1 or 2 the last few nights trying to get some work in. While the results have been pleasing, I have been really tired the last couple of days. Which begs the question. Why didn't I put the time into learning this when I was a teenager and had oodles of free time?

Did you ever feel like you misspent your youth?

All the free time I had as a teenager I wasted. Back then I was interested in one thing, and one thing only. Video games. I had a job or two, I saved a bit to go on a mission, and I bought video games with the rest. I could have gotten good grades (easily) in high school but I played games instead. So instead of having a 4.0, I have 2.9 HS GPA. I could have gotten a lot better at art, but I played games instead. Etc.. Etc... Etc... I have a laundry list of ways that I could have used my time better as a teenager. About the only good thing that came from my video game obsession is that I learned how to program a computer so I could make games of my own. Which has turned out (programming in general) to be valuable skill (I support my family with it). So I guess I shouldn't second guess myself too much.

So I guess as much as anything, the adult me is frustrated with the teenage me. I've really wanted to make some headway on my book, but I've been hung up learning to draw. And now I have to earn the skill the hard way, by staying up late and by ignoring my other hobbies. It's not that drawing is a horrible experience. It is a good experience, but a hard one. Currently it takes all of my mental energy to do it. I really have to REALLY think to get a line to look right, I am surprised by how much left brain thinking it takes for something to look good paper. I have to remember where my light source is, then think of how that light would wrap around my object, then get my hand to co-operate and draw all that. I used to think drawing was strictly a talent. Either you could draw, or you couldn't. But I can see now it takes WORK to make a good drawing, regardless of your skill level. Some of it is tedious, some mentally intensive, but the whole piece of work, is just that, work. But like all work, you get out what you put in to it, and I'm starting to see some results. So I guess I'll just have to put up with being tired for a while.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentines Part II

Valentines Day was nice, I got home from work and SuperWoman was working on a wonderful homemade tomato soup that is totally gourmet. It is filled with all kinds of good stuff including prosciutto. Yummy. I made up some cheese crisps, which is colby jack cheese baked until the edges get crisp, to go with the soup. It was a great dinner, and for dessert my wife made this tasty little item. The heart is made from puff pastry, below it is a bed of candied raspberries, and sandwitched between the pasty is a homemade custard with almond flavoring. The sauce and garnish is more of the candied raspberries. And now you know why she is my Superwoman. The whole family had a totally gourmet dinner and we didn't even have to wait in a super long valentines day line. After dinner we invited a neighbor over and played Cities & Knights of Catan. (The gift I gave Superwoman for Valentines day, Cities and Knights is an expansion to the Settlers of Catan game) SuperWoman won by a landslide and we all had fun.

All Hail SuperWoman, Lord of my Heart.
(that was a lame "Settlers of Catan" reference)

Happy Valentines Day

Happy Valentines day to all, especially to my SuperWoman.

This is our sixth valentines day together, and we have a lot to show for it, a great marriage, and two cute little brats. Valentines used to be a lame holiday, but having a valentine changes that, instead of feeling alone its good to feel loved.

I am SO gaijin.

Last week was kind of a doosey. Cookie Monster had his scary experience, both of our cars broke down, and our internet went on the blink. So after an emergency room visit, a bunch of new car parts, and a replacement cable modem I am feeling the hit.

It almost makes me wish that we hadn't gone out to Sushi on the third, but only almost. I've been meaning to blog about it for over a week now and just didn't have the time. (or the internet connection for that matter)

So Friday the 3rd we were going go to Market Street Grill but our plans fell through, so we went to my favorite restaurant instead, Yamato. It was busier than I have ever seen it, which is a good thing, because a lot of times we went and things were pretty slow. More business means that my favorite place will be around for longer.

We were seated in close proximity to a group that was obviously full of first timers. And the sushi expert of the group was new as well, mistaking Yellow tail for Eel tail :). So why we were waiting for our food I listened in on their sushi experience. I know it is rude to eavesdrop but I could hear them better than my wife sitting across from me, they were being kinda loud. The group was rude by American standards and especially rude by Japanese. Those using chopsticks were spearing the fish off from the nigiri and leaving the rice, and spreading it around with the chopsticks. The ladies were cutting the sushi into smaller pieces and then complaining that it didn't hold together.

Gaijin translated literally means barbarian. But has changed in meaning to mean someone who is not Japanese, and has lost a lot(or all) of its negative connotation. A lot of time when someone is being rude, I think or mutter how 'gaijin' that person is. So I mentioned all this to my wife how these folks were acting like barbarians and realized that I was gesturing with my chopsticks. (Gesturing with your chopsticks is about the equivalent of pointing your knife at other people while speaking to them at the dinner table) Turns out I'm the one is who is gaijin, I should have known better.

Even though no one really noticed I was still really abashed, its a good thing I had some sushi coming to console me. But first was the Miso soup. Both of my children LOVE miso soup and can finish a whole bowl of it in addition to their meals. Pretty good for a 3 year old and an 18 month old. They also split some steamed rice, teriyaki chicken and some Tempura veggies. It surprises me how much the kids love miso. Cakes wasn't digging the rice plain (she is a little small to eat a piece of chicken and rice in one bite)so I poured some of the soup over it (a trick I learned from watching Iron Chef) and she yummed it up.

My wife had Teriyaki Chicken and Tempura vegetables, and I ate strictly sushi as usual. First picture is of the Spider Roll.
I gave a piece to my wife before I snapped this picture so the sauce in odd spots on the plate are from me and not the chef. The spider roll is one of my all time favorite rolls, I love the way that the hot soft shell crab tastes in the roll. Forgive the blurry photo of the Flying Fish Roe battleship and the Red Snapper Nigiri, our camera has a hard time at close range. I made the mistake of dipping my first battleship in soy sauce before I realized the roe would already add the right amount of salt. So it was delicious if not a bit salty, the second was spot on with just a small bit of soy on the nori. This was my first experience with the raw red snapper, usually I order tuna, crab, shrimp, Unagi(eel), Yellow Tail, or salmon with variations in the other ingredients of the rolls. Tuna is my absolute favorite. So when I heard some of the tasters on Iron Chef say they preferred snapper to tuna, I was interested. The snapper is indeed very tasty, though I am still not sure that it is better than tuna to my palette. The spicy tuna roll was the highlight of the evening for me. I have heard that you should eat sushi in order of light to dark meat. And I can see why the tuna was so full of flavor it was the perfect way to cap off the evening. Perhaps I should have had the soft shell crab last, but as they were all brought to me at the same time I wanted to eat that whilst it was still warm.

So the sushi trip was well worth it, I learned not to dip my roe into soy sauce, that red snapper is pretty good, and that I'm so gaijin and still have lots to learn. Having lots to learn about your hobby isn't a bad thing, I guess that means I need to go get sushi more often.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Guildpact Release Experience

Saturday the 4th I went to the Guildpact set, my sister and her husband came as well. I had a great time hanging out with them and playing magic, made even better by taking first place! The prize was 8 booster packs and a cool life counter. I got the white/black dual land in one of the packs.

After the tournament we came back to the house and I fixed up Huevos Rancheros for everyone. (My sis, her husband, Superwoman, Cookie Monster and Cakes.)

I'd give a rundown of all the games, other than I am tired tonight.
Most games were similar, I would get in lot of damage in the opening turns of each game, then deal with threats and try to find a way to push through the last few points of damage. I didn't lose a game but each game was close, (as can be expected with a weenie deck) and I had a few lucky wins when I topdecked (drew the right card at the right time)just the thing I needed to pull a win out.

Here is the decklist for anyone that is interested.

Guildpact Release Tournament Deck
Record 4-0 (8-0)

Lands - 16
7 Forest
4 Swamp
1 Mountain
1 Gruul Turf
1 Izzet Boilerworks
1 Dimir Aqueduct
1 Svogthos, the Restless Tomb

Creatures - 15
1 Centaur Safegaurd
1 Elves of Deep Shadow
1 Exhumer Thrull
1 Giant Solifuge
1 Gristleback
1 Gruul Scrapper
1 Moroii
1 Mourning Thrull
1 Scab-Clan Mauler
1 Siege Wurm
1 Skarrgan Pit-Skulk
1 Stinkweed Imp
1 Streebreaker Wurm
1 Sparkmage Apprentice
1 Woodwraith Strangler

Spells/Artifacts - 9
1 Disembowel
1 Fencer’s Magemark
1 Fiery Conclusion
1 Fists of Ironwood
1 Galvanic Arc
1 Gruul Signet
1 Privileged Position
1 Strands of Undeath
1 Wildsize

1 Absolver Thrull
1 Courier Hawk
1 Droning Bureaucrats
1 Festival of the Guildpact
1 Graven Dominator
1 Harrier Griffin
1 Lionheart Maverick
1 Nightgaurd Patrol
1 Seed Spark
1 Three Dreams
1 Withstand
1 Convolute
1 Crystal Seer
1 Drake Familiar
1 Drift of Phantasms
1 Flight of Fancy
1 Muddle the Mixture
1 Tidewater Minion
1 Train of Thought
1 Wizened Snitches
1 Necromantic Thirst
1 Nightmare Void
2 Ostiary Thrull
1 Restless Bones
1 Thoughtpicker Witch
1 Vigor Mortis
1 Coalhauler Swine
1 Goblin Fire Fiend
1 Ogre Savant
1 Ordruun Commando
1 Sell-Sword Brute
1 Dryad’s Caress
1 Primeval Light
1 Root-Kin Ally
1 Silhana Ledgewalker
1 Sundering Vitae
1 Boros Guildmage
1 Burning-Tree Bloodscale
1 Conjurer’s Ban
1 Perplex
1 Psychic Drain
1 Searing Meditation
1 Wee Dragonauts
1 Boros Signet
1 Terrarion

Cookie Monster turns blue.

So I had a pretty decent weekend, I'll post more on it another time. Monday night, on the other hand, was a little traumatic.

Last night I got to bed about 12:30 AM, so I still wasn't asleep by 1:00 AM. I am somewhat of an insomniac, and it usually takes me at least 45 minutes to get to sleep. But on occasion this personality quirk comes in handy. Last night I heard a wheezy raspy and weak cough, it was soft enough that I don't think that I would have caught it if I was sleeping. In any case it was soft enough that my wife didn't even hear it. (She has hearing like a bat, for noises coming from the kids room) I went in the kids room to check it out and sure enough Cookie Monster had a case of croup. He was taking shallow raspy breaths and obiously wasn't getting enough oxygen. I rolled him over and the edges of his lips were blue. A scary thing for a Dad to see. I woke him up, in hopes of getting him to cough some of phlegm up. He must of felt like he was choking because he started to freak out, which woke up SuperWoman. We decided he needed to get into the Emergency Room, SuperWoman would take Cookie Monster to the hospital, while I stayed home with Cakes. (Who, thankfully, slept through the whole thing) Before they left Cookie Monster half coughed, half threw up, about a bouncy ball's volume of phlegm. How his throat could hold that much phlegm, I have no idea. While his breathing was still labored and wheezy, the color returned to his face, and he was at least getting enough air to survive. Then SuperWoman rushed off with him to the ER. At the Hospital they gave him a breathing treatment, (Kinda like an athsma inhaler, but with quite a bit more of a punch) and a steriod to open his throat up. They got back about 4:30 AM. Today we have our happy little Cookie Monster back, and he isn't even blue! Thank God for Insomnia, with out it I'm afraid we might not have a little boy.

When Super Woman was making the bed up this morning she noticed copious amounts of hair on my pillow that had fallen out last night. Just further proof that kids will make you bald. (They're worth it, MOST of the time)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Another Magic weekend ahead

So this weekend is the street release of Guilpact. I'll be attending a tournament Saturday at noon, I'm exited to play with the set again and actually be able to purchase a few packs of cards. (and hopefully win a few more). I also joined another MTGO league (magic the gathering online). A league on-line is like a release tournament, but spread out over more time. You can play online at your leisure. My last league just ended, and I won a whopping one pack. Meh, ohwell. It was good practice for the Guildpact Pre-Release, and Release tournaments.

My wife and I were planning on going out tonight, but due to some extenuating circumstances we will not be able to go. Which is unfortunate because she wanted to go to the Market Street Grill/Broiler in SLC. They do some amazing crab and other seafood, I was really looking forward to going. Another time perhaps.

As an interesting side note, you can get some AMAZING seafood along the Wasatch Front in Utah, which most people are surprised to find out. (with good reason since we are a little more than 600 miles inland) Sure other places can get fresh seafood, but it is usually a lot more expensive. (even places closer to the ocean) What is our secret? Salt Lake International Airport. A lot of seafood makes a stop here in the Utah desert before making multiple hops to other spots in the US. Since its making its first layover here, the fish is fresh, and there is more of the load that is still fresh here, so the restaurants and others get it cheaper. This is nice because a person on a budget, like myself, can actually afford it. So if you come to the Salt Lake City area, I would take some time and find a good seafood restaurant (or better yet, Sushi Bar) and enjoy the surprisingly good seafood we have here in the desert.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Whats in a name?

So I've been going on the blog a for a bit now, I thought that I would have a hard time talking about stuff I like, out of fear of people thinking I was dumb. What was I worried about? One look at my blog name and they will -KNOW- I'm dumb. And since nobody reading this blog (yet), I find it pretty easy to post a message about whatever I want. Why be nervous about what people will think, when nobody will read it? Heh...

Which brings me to my next point, will I have to change my blog name before anyone will stop on by? Probably. But I don't want to. I like the dumb name I made up. (it makes me hungry for sushi, always a good thing!)

Andy Hunter.

If you like trance music, check this guy out.
(the iTunes links require iTunes to work properly)
Andy Hunter - Official Page.
iTunes "Exodus" Album
(check out Amazing and Go, they are my favorites)

What drew my attention to this guy is melodic and deep trance music, the first Song I heard from him is "Go". I loved it, the next song that blew me away way was Amazing. I knew I had to find more music by this guy, I did some research and found out he is a Christian artist. Double bonus! I like Christian music (when I can find some good stuff) but so much of it is either so cheesy or -blah-. Not so with AH. The music is great, the lyrics are subtle and appropriate, I don't think they are cheesy but some people -may- disagree with me there. The lyrics are reminiscent of "Jars of Clay", not cheesy, still uplifting and befitting to the song. I can't give this guy enough props, great music.

When I get a little cash I would like to get his entire "Exodus" album, and the others if I can afford it. Until then I can still catch him on DI.fm (vocal trance channel)

And while we are on the subject here are links to my other favorite Christian band.
Jars of Clay - Official Page
iTunes "Jars of Clay" Album (check out Flood and Like a Child)