Saturday, August 30, 2014

What-What?! Week of August 31st

Friday, I put up a new shelf in the bathroom.  I had assembled the shelf earlier this week, which took maybe 20 minutes.  Getting it attached to the wall, though, took another hour and 15 minutes.  Between not having the proper tools, having to find what tools we do have, small children, and other accidents (like dropping parts in the garbage can, d'oh!), it just took forever.

I finished reading the Corwin cycle of the Chronicles of Amber -- all five books.  So, there's that.

Took the kids back to the library, which was good.  Next time we go, I'm going to try the branch library, since it seems to have more children's events than the main library.  Maybe they have an even better children's section, too?

Random Children's Quote of the Week

My middle son: "Dinosaurs died before the cowboys died."

Factually true, I suppose.

News:  Smithsonian Digital Volunteers

I saw this on Reddit, and thought it was really cool.  The Smithsonian has  opportunities for online volunteers to transcribe various texts, as well as work on Wikipedia pages, and postage stamps (but only for those who have particular knowledge of stamps and postal operations).  The transcription website has a pretty big variety of content to work with in six major themes -- American Experience, Biodiverse Planet, Civil War Era, Field Book Registry, Mysteries of the Universe, and World Cultures.

Adorable Cockatiel Artwork via DeviantArt

Growing up, my family had a cockatiel, which are great little birds, very full of personality.  Not always the best personality, mind you, but entertaining, nonetheless.  This artist on DeviantArt has done a great job capturing their very birdy essence.  Also, it's adorable.  Adorable.
Pink?!  So cute.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Art Thursday -- August 28th

"Wolf Pack"
Parent wolves defending their babies against some red demon intruder.
The musical notes in the corner are an actual song, which Saffron can sing and hum.
And she did sing and hum, incessantly, for days.

Friday, August 22, 2014

What-What?! Week of August 24th

This week was pretty quiet.  I finished reading the second Amber Chronicles book.  I remember them being longer.  Maybe I'm a faster reader now?  Hm.

Job things have been going on.  Some good, some bad, but all stressful.  I cannot wait for life to settle down more.

Corwin splattered chocolate ice cream all over the dining table.  He managed to get a rather significant amount over some of Saffron's pictures, which understandably made her sad.  We made some stampers out of foam stickers, which the big kids have had a great time playing with.

News:  Nearly 37% Of All Registered Steam Games Have Never Been Played via Forbes

First off, for those who don't know Steam is a digital distribution and online gaming platform put together by Valve.  They offer over 3,000 games, and have about 75 million users.  At present, Steam has 781 million games registered.  However, Ars Technica found that only 36.9 percent of games have ever been played, leaving about 60 percent of all games bought sitting around unplayed.  I'm willing to bet that, if you included all the games that are played for less than, say, 5 or 10 hours, that number would jump significantly higher.

Why is this so?  The Steam Sale, and the Humble Bundle.  Why not buy a game that's 75% off?  Why buy one game for $5, when you can get five for $15?  The Steam sale and the Humble Bundle work because they appeal to the gamer's sense of thrift, the idea of collecting things ("Now I have the whole series!"), and the press of a limited time offer.  Combine all that with the relatively small amounts of money being spent, and there is little buyer's remorse to keep gamers from coming back for more.

Art: The Nine Princes of Amber by Ayej

I was looking for some Amber artwork that I'd seen online years ago, and ran into this comic strip.  It is hilarious and fitting.  Hit the link above for a bigger version.  My favorite is Julian (in the white armor):

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Art Thursday -- August 21st

"Character Portraits"
Saffron has been doing this series of character portraits.
The left one reads, "Sparkles and Cinnamon, Hunter and Dog".
The middle reads, "Strawberry Shortcake Dog Girl".
And on the right, it reads, "Arie (?): Mountain Climber".

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn

(A note before you read this:  Do NOT go read the Wikipedia page on The Icarus Hunt unless you want to see spoilers.)

The Icarus Hunt by Timothy Zahn is one of my husband's favorite books.  Despite being married to him for over seven years now, I haven't read it.

Until now.

Truthfully, and I'm not just saying this to preserve my marriage, I quite enjoyed the book.

It follows the story of Jordan McKell, who is a smuggler that is hired to pilot the spaceship Icarus and its cargo to Earth.  Obviously, things go wrong -- there is sabotage, bribery, lies heaped upon lies, and all of this only topped by the fact that the ship is pursued by aliens, governments, and various ne'er-do-wells.

The story has elements similar to some of my favorite TV shows and movies; like Whedon's Firefly, it focuses on a smuggler and his crew of misfits, who'd all rather be doing something else.  Everyone being is after McKell and the ship, both governments and criminals alike, which dominates some of the storylines in Firefly.  The book also made me think of The Fifth Element, because the world setting feels very similar, in it's grittiness and treatment of technology.

What is funny about the things that the book reminds of, is that The Fifth Element was released in 1997, and Firefly was aired starting in 2002.  The Icarus Hunt was published right in the middle of that, in 1999.  So maybe it was just a time of good sci-fi.

(Also, all of those years make me feel terribly old.)

One aspect of the book that I like, is that Zahn doesn't mess around with technical explanations of the science in this science fiction work.  There's hyperspace, plasma guns, aliens doing alien things... and it's all stated as facts and left at that, basically.  I'm fine with this.  I've read other sci-fi books where the technology is described and explained in far too much detail, creating unnecessary lulls in the story.  Yes, sometimes the academic explanation of things is interesting, but my experience is that, most of the time, it really isn't.

Overall, The Icarus Hunt is a good romp.  The pacing is very good, the mystery is interesting, there's no weird forced romance or anything, just action and adventure.  Go read it.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What-What?! Week of August 17th

Peter dug out his copy of the Chronicles of Amber, which I started reading.  I made it through the first book in about... 3 days.  Yep, I still like 'em. :D

I took the two big kids back to the library this week; I expect that when it starts raining, we'll probably spend a fair amount of time there.  The indoor play area really encourages just hanging out and spending time there.

I spent more time this week writing; I now have a few articles that I'll be posting in the next week or two.  Yay for progress!

No odd jobs to post this week, but I did see a listing here in Seattle that was literally for a ditch digger.  Digging ditches.

News: Michele Carragher Embroidery for Film and TV

Browsing on Reddit last week, I stumbled upon the woman that does the embroidery for the Game of Thrones show.  While I have no interest in the show, the costuming is brilliant.  There are so many great close-up photographs on this website that I haven't seen them all yet.
Carragher actually has a few videos and tutorials of how she creates these works of art.  The methods that she uses to create Daenerys' dragonscale dresses are pretty simple, but combined look very distinctive.

The best, though, are the animals that she creates.  Her selection of insects is just fantastic.

...also, the birds, and the fish:

I love those fish.  They are so fishy. :D

Go check out her website, but make sure you have some time first.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Art Thursday -- August 14th

"Anna and Elsa at Home"
It seems to be a picture with the princesses doing... things.
I'm pretty sure that the big-eyed girl in the upper right hand corner is a doll, since Saffron's never drawn a person like that before.  Its eyes stare into your very soul. O.O

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What-What?! Week of August 10th

This week, we visited the local library, and now my daughter has her first library card!  The main branch here in Everett has a lovely children's area, complete with comfy coaches and chairs, toys, puzzles, and lots of books, of course.  Each of the kids picked out some books and a movie.  I would like to see more of what the adult section looks like, but maybe that will happen some other time.

Last time we went to Costco, we bought milk there.  We'd been avoiding it, because the milk jugs are square, and we'd read about it being hard to pour milk.  By "square jug", I mean this:
Not regular square, but super square!
We haven't found them particularly hard to pour, so we'll probably buy them again.  More entertaining, though, is the fact that my middle boy, who is obsessed with MineCraft, has decided that it is "MineCraft Milk".  Because it's square, and everything in MineCraft is square.  He was especially pleased when I made "MineCraft cookies" to go with it -- that is, bar cookies cut into squares.  I guess all square foods are now MineCraft foods.

News:  Sean Bean AMA on Reddit via Reddit

Sean Bean was on Reddit this past Tuesday, doing an "Ask Me Anything" to promote his new show, Legends.  This AMA is full of great stories from Bean's film career, like how he went to the wrong set one day, and so on.  I would suggest you go read it.  After reading it, the husband and I decided that we needed to watch the Sharpe's series (again for me, the first time for him).  Pete actually went to the local library and checked out the first two videos the next day.

Odd Jobs:  Doll Hair Stylist

This week's odd job is a Doll Hair Stylist position at the local American Girl shop:
This one actually sounds pretty awesome.  Getting paid to play with children is usually a pretty good gig.

(imgs via,

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Art Thursday -- August 7th

"Vignette of a Shared Room"
This is a room shared by four girls, and the various things they have in their room, like their own computer, radio, and some plants.  And three-high beds, because perhaps they are living in a submarine?  Anyway, I always look at these pictures with the assumption that this is what Saffron would like if she could design her room.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What-What?! Week of August 3rd

This week has been... well, a week.  Last weekend, I worked as a housekeeper in a local hotel.  I spent Saturday getting everything that I did redone in a slightly different way.  Sunday was much better, though, so there's the learning curve.  Sunday, I made up somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 beds, and probably 200 beds for the entire weekend.

Odd Jobs

This week's odd job is a shop assistant to help care for a bunch of WWII DUKWs (more commonly called "Ducks"), for a tour company.


News:  Cast of Firefly Reunite for Firefly: Online Game via PC World

firefly online
I'm going to be a bit fangirl-ish for a minute, though maybe it's too late for warnings, considering that I named my daughter after a Firefly character.

At the San Diego Comic Con this past weekend, Quantum Mechanix and Spark Plug Games announced that they've gotten the entire original cast of the show to provide voicework for the upcoming Firefly Online game.  So excited.

Of course, the game itself might still be awful, but this is a great ray of hope for it.  The game is going to involve picking out a crew, and finding and completing jobs.  This part sounds very similar to MechWarrior 2: Mercenaries, which was one of my favorite games growing up.

The game is due out in Spring 2015.  If I have money, I am totally buying it.