|On my last crossword post a couple of months ago, I mentioned the idea of custom crosswords. At the time, the idea was not so solid. Now, I'm pleased to say, it has come to fruition. I've done 3 custom crosswords for specific occasions and/or people. Some of them are generic enough that you don't need to be "in" to do them. Other ones might have a few clues that leave you stumped, but a good puzzler would be able to figure them out using the cross clues.
Making a custom crossword for a person or occasion makes me happy. It is a way of honoring something with my own twist. I wouldn't, of course, go and make a crossword puzzle for a crossword hater. Most of the fun for me is in seeing the person get excited about doing it. And since there are so few people in my life that are crossword lovers, I don't imagine I will be making too many custom crosswords again.
But if you are among those crossword lovers, give some of my creations a try. Then, when I am a famous published crossword puzzle creator*, you can say "I knew his puzzles back when he was doing them for free on his dinky little blog."
|Monday August 31 2009||File under: games|
|Third guest comic artist in as many comics, a big thanks to Horge (all the way from post-communism Bosnia) for this week's comic. He took my idea and did it up right. I did a little color tweaking and added a caption and what we've got is a top notch comic. (Horge, the color tweaks aren't a commentary on your creation. I just wanted to bring the man into focus a little more.)
Now that the Friday Comic ball is up and rolling again, I'm already getting ready for next week's. It's going to be ANOTHER(!) guest comic artist, again from a far far away land. (Had I know outsourcing overseas was going to be so successful, I might have started pursuing that road earlier.) But don't worry (or possibly be worried, depending on how you look at it), I will be back behind the pixels soon enough. I'm excited to try out my new computer-ette in the realm of image manipulation on a few new ideas that have struck me in my summer adventures. Yay for Friday Comics!
|Thursday August 27 2009||File under: comic|
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|About a year ago, I put together a little experiment testing the claim of a plastic cup to be "compostable" (see original post here). From what I had heard and read, I suspected this claim to be misleading in that it takes more than a home compost bin to break down the corn-plastic, but I didn't want to start spreading disinformation without having looked into it myself.
Well, after digging around through soil, worms, eggs shells, and more soil*, the results are in: the plastic of the cup is in just as good shape as it was the day it was served to me. If it wasn't for being crushed with additional compost material, it would still be able to be drank from. (And for the record, our compost bin is awesome and gets really hot and breaks down everything else just fine.)
The moral of this story? If your gut tells you an advertising claim might be a little too good to be true, look into it. I see green claims thrown around these days that are a blatant misstating of the truth*. Now I've got a little empirical evidence to back me up, at least on this one.
(Thanks to everyone who has kept asking about this. Knowing that the things that make me curious make you curious as well is great inspiration to keep on posting!)
|Wednesday August 26 2009||File under: environment, misc|
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|This year's Local Foods Party* was again a great success. Like in years past, there was homemade salt, garden grown veggies, and oodles of fresh berries. Like in years past, there were new and creative additions to the menu (some of which worked and some of which did not.) And like in years past, we had a great group of people gathered together to celebrate the bounty and abundance of northwest Washington's local foodscape.
Some highlights for me (besides being surrounded with good people): smoked bison, pizza*, a gorgeous nicoise salad, crab(!), and peaches and cream. As with the first year, there was also a little entertainment (esp. enjoyed by the kids)
A couple of the foodie experiments that I was hoping to contribute didn't turn out as well as I hoped (but were still lots of fun to do). An attempt to make sugar from beets ended up as taffy so instead went to sweeten blackberry popsicles. The critics commented "I like the first taste, but not the last one that it leaves in your mouth". Also, I made another attempt at tortillas, which I was sure I had pegged. After rendering some fat into lard, finding a local flour source, and drying, storing, and grinding corn into cornmeal, I thought I had all the ingredients, but something just wasn't right. They turned out more like tostadas rather than tortillas. Alas.
Thinking, planning, and talking about the challenges* and rewards of local foods is always a great way to remind me of what we as a culture so often take for granted. Having a meal dedicated to not taking that stuff for granted makes me very happy. Having good friends around to share it with makes it that much better.
|Sunday August 23 2009||File under: food, events|
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|Huzzah huzzah for adding another to the list of Friday Comic contributors. Chris from over at IHJ found time between ferreting out military secrets and reading his kids 34 books per night to heed my call for new comic submissions. Not only did he take on the role of drawing, he also conceived of and wrote this one himself. All I did was clean up a little artifacting caused by a filetype error (example) and it was ready to go.
It should be noted that the comic has somewhat nerdier leanings, but we are all nerds here . Anyhoo, enjoy and Happy Friday!
(Next week I've got another new guest contributor to Friday Comics that I am really excited about. More people, more styles, more funny, more fun!0
|Thursday August 20 2009||File under: comic|
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|Where a person lays his/her head says a whole lot about his/her life, I think. If you look at this data over time, you get an idea of a person's routines, travel habits, and maybe even relationships. Whenever I heard a traveling salesman or musician say "I spend 200 nights a year on the road" or whatever, it would always make me wonder: where did they spend their nights, in what size chunks was that time spent, etc. It also spurred the question for me: how many nights a year do I spend on the road? It wasn't one that I could readily answer (at least with any accuracy) so about a year ago, I started keeping track.
Now I have over a year's worth of data on where I slept. I've put it together in this [visually pleasing] interface to share with you (so specifics have been omitted), but mostly for myself in getting a picture of what the last year of my life has looked like. Some interesting things I've realized: I haven't spent more than 11 nights in a row at home; nights at home vs. nights housesitting are almost equal; I've spent a month's worth of nights in a tent, 12 in a wheeled vehicle of some sort, 16 on a boat, and 2 on a plane.
Not only has this exercise served as a great way to quantitatively describe my lifestyle (or at least as much as you feel is represented in this data), it also serves as a great log. In 20 years when I wonder what it was like to be young* and free, I can see how I spent my time. This whole thing has been so fun and informative for me, I'm hoping to continue keeping track for years to come. I only wish that I had been doing it for the last 10 years as well.
|Wednesday August 19 2009||File under: travel, misc|
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|I'm posting this for a couple reasons which I will present in bullet format.|
|Tuesday August 18 2009||File under: beard|
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|What a better way to celebrate rolling over the old odometer than heading out into the woods with some new friends. That's what I did this last week: a 5-day backpacking trip in Glacier Peak Wilderness.
The plan was to do a 35-mile loop from North Fork Sauk River up to White Pass, Red Pass, Kennedy Hot Springs, and Byrne Lake*. The first day, just at the beginning of the switchbacks*, the rain starts. By the time we reach camp that first night, we are soaked. The decision is made to take the next day off, at least from packing up camp, and do a day hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather somewhat clears on and off to allow for some great views*. The following night/morning, it rains again so we do a day hike north on the PCT. We all decide that hiking without crazy huge fully soaked packs is the best way to go anyway.
All in all, it was a great time. The good company, wildflowers, fresh abundant berries, vistas, escape, and nature greatly outweighed the weather*, bugs, and two flat tires. I might just have to try this backpacking thing again someday.
|Friday August 14 2009||File under: misc, pics|
|I'm not a performer. I think I must have stated that 100 times on the trip (and hundreds more throughout my life). I just don't really enjoy it. I wish I did, but I don't. I've come up with many rationalizations for it, but the root of the matter is that it just doesn't do it for me.
That said, I made it on stage for the last show of the tour. For some reason, "Kitchen Bit" made it to the line-up. Originally it was just supposed to be a fake fashion show for the awesome recycled aprons we had been wearing all tour, but since everyone in the kitchen can juggle as well*, we decided to spice it up a bit. Lime juggling, broom chin balancing, padiddling*, and more: we took out all the stops for the final show. My part: besides being a padiddling model and group juggling a huge pot, pot lid, broom and water jug, I ended the bit by juggling 5 raw eggs. Of course half of them ended up on the floor (after a solid run), but the audience wouldn't have liked it any other way.
I had a blast and was glad to be able to contribute to the show part of the tour (which is the most forward facing aspect). I had such a good time that I catch myself thinking that maybe I should rethink my non-performer title. Perhaps "semi-reluctant rare-occasion performer" is better.
|Saturday August 8 2009||File under: chautauqua|
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|Back to the real world means back to Friday Comics. I still have at least one circus post up my sleeve that I'm waiting on pictures for, but there's no reason to delay the inevitable.
After a long hiatus from comicdom, Deanna is back behind the pen on this installment. As always, she did an awesome job. As for any Penny Arcade readers out there*, any resemblance there is totally a coincidence. Deanna had never even seen that comic until I pointed out the striking similarity. (For a fun exercise, go page through their archives and see if you notice the resemblance.)
Anyway, Friday comics are back for a while (although next week's might be late or rain checked because I might be hiking around in the woods with a big pack on my back), so if you are aching to stretch your comic drawing muscles, drop me a line*. Otherwise, get out there and eat some blackberries...but be sure to check your teeth afterward.
|Thursday August 6 2009||File under: comic|
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