Archive for October, 2009

They Do Not Appear In Nature

Every day, I think Gideon learns 5 new words. He is constantly saying things I did not know he knew. This morning he busted out with the word “eggs.” As I was scooping dog food, he counted the scoops before I did, “One. Two. Three. Fhdjsfh.” He just makes this noise for four and if we count above three or four, he just starts over at two or three.

I was going to let him watch Sesame Street this morning, instead of more Animal Atlas, and all went well for a couple minutes… Until Cookie Monster showed up to eat all the oatmeal cookies. Gideon did not like him! Then Elmo and some other puppet thing showed up. Gideon kept shaking his head saying, “No. No.” with a worried look on his face. Even after the “monsters” were gone, he did not want to watch Sesame Street anymore.

It was funny. Ries said it was because he knows those things do not appear in nature and are thus not natural.

We went back to Animal Atlas.


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Happy Fall


Originally uploaded by Wandering Eyre

Pullo and Gideon pose with the pumpkin my Grammy gave Gideon. It is small enough for him to carry, so yesterday he dragged it everywhere while saying “Punky! Punky!”

It was adorable.

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It is finally “cold” here in Houston. I am using quotes because cold here is 60 degrees. People start busting out sweaters and scarves at any temperature below 70 degrees. The arrival of Fall, finally, inspired me to to bake these muffins, a coffee cake, and some bread today. Well, the weather and the fact that my Bible study class is in charge of breakfast for the entire group tomorrow. Still…

These are like little spice cakes, delicious, and perfect with coffee or tea in the morning. Slap a little cream cheese frosting on these babies and they could do double duty as desert.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins
modified from Cooking Light 2007

    2 1/4 c. unbleached flour
    1/2 tsp. ground cloves
    1/2 tsp. cinnamon
    1/2 tsp. allspice
    1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
    1 tsp. ground ginger
    1/4 tsp. salt
    1 c. raisins
    1 c. packed brown sugar
    1 c. canned pumpkin
    1/3 c. yogurt
    1/3 c. oil (vegetable, olive, or whatever you normally use)
    1/4 c. molasses
    1 tsp. vanilla
    2 large eggs

Preheat oven to 400.

Combine flour and next 6 ingredients in a medium or large bowl. Add raisins, stir, and make a well in the center.

In another medium bowl, combine brown sugar and the next 6 ingredients. Stir until well combined.

Pour the brown sugar mixture into the flour mixture. Stir until just moist.

Spoon batter into greased or lined muffin tins. Fill 3/4 full. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Baking time will vary depending on muffin size. This batter will make 24 mini muffins and 6 regular sized muffins.

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New Computer – OS?

Sorry for boring you with posts about my new computer.  This will probably be the last for a while.  I may do another one when I get around to overclocking it.  But that will be a first for me so I may put it off for a bit.

Today I will just mention my fun (frustrations) with Microsoft’s certification process.  If you don’t know already, Microsoft just officially released their new operating system yesterday.  Windows 7.  Luckily, since I am a student at UH right now, I can get a copy of it for just $20.  Unfortunately, I found out at the time of purchase that it was only an Upgrade version, meaning I had to have a valid activated Windows OS already installed on my computer.

I had a plan to get around this snag.  Michelle has plans to wipe her laptop clean and install Linux on it.  I encourage the idea and am excited to watch / help Michelle move into the world of open source.  Anyways, I figured that I could use the product key of her Windows XP system when I install Windows 7.  After all, it is as if we are removing the Windows XP from her computer and installing it on mine, then upgrading it.  We just skipped the step of actually installing the XP on my computer, which is not needed anyways since you have to do a clean install over XP anyways.  I don’t think there is anything illegal about that and it seems like a reasonable action.  However, at the end (note I said end) of the Windows 7 installation, when it asked for the product key and I entered her XP key, it told me that it was an invalid key and to reenter.  That’s it.  I was stuck with nothing else to do.

So, I still have no operating system on my new computer and it lies there dormant just waiting to be utilized.  I finally gave in and purchased an OEM version of Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) on New Egg for $109.99.  I am dissapointed because that is a lot of money and I would install Linux on it myself if I didn’t want to game on this machine.  For those of you who don’t want to do the math, that brings the total price of my computer, including monitor and operating system, to $1,490.74.  I’d say that’s pretty good since I bought my Alienware (w/o monitor) back in 2002 for $3,000 at the same relative level of performance for the times.

–Ries, unsuccessful at working the system

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Botched Seams

A post in which I attempt to sew a few things.

I should start out by saying that I do know how to sew. I have, in the past, successfully sewn many things. Today, though…

Yesterday, I cut two yards of fabric into the parts for two pairs of pajama pants for Gideon. One print was a nice dog print and the other had frogs and lizards. Today, after Gideon went to sleep, I set up the sewing machine and sat down. It was then that I realized I had cut the panels on both yards wrong. If I were to sew them together, one side of the pants would be printed and the other side would be the unprinted underside. There is no way to salvage that, really, so that is two yards in the scrap pile.

I called my Mom to confirm my mistake.

Next I cut the fabric I bought to make Gideon some pants for his pirate costume. This time, I cut them correctly. Whew. I put the backs together and the fronts, respectively and sewed the inside seam together, which I vaguely recalled as being the next step.

Wrong. By sewing up the inside seam, and the ahrder to ri I sewed up what should have been two legs. I also used small straight stiches, the better to hold and the harder to rip out as well. I put those aside to rip the seams out later. At least those are salvageable.

Since I had botched all the pants, I decided to a try the vest next. This was to be an easy affair, with very little seams because I want it to look raggedy. I was only going to sew the sides and shoulders, leaving the arm holes and bottom unhemmed. I cut the vest using a shirt as a pattern. I think it turned out well. I proudly sewed up the sides and turned it right side in to admire my handiwork.

At this point I realized I had sewn the arm holes closed.


I cut behind the seams and made arm holes. I reinforced the seams so they would not come undone. Gideon, by this time, had woken from his regrettably short nap. I had him try on the vest. Made some adjustments and I think it looks pretty good.

While Gideon ate lunch, I ripped the seams from the sad pirate pants. I will attempt to sew those tonight after Gideon goes to bed. Hopefully, this time I will not make such a mess of it.

The worst part of this is that I feel, not mad or frustrated, but tired and defeated. I used very precious nap time resources on a mostly, useless endeavor.

Animal Atlas is over, and thus my computer time is as well.

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Without further ado, here are the components inside my new computer and how much I paid for them.

With the exception of the Monitor (Fry’s) and the Optical Drive I got everything from New Egg.  The prices listed include tax and shipping charges but not mail-in rebates.  I did send in for a $20 one for the power supply.

Guts of the new computer

Guts of the new computer

I put these all together without any issue.  It took me about 6 hours but I took my time, watched TV, and spent time with my wife during the process.  Unfortunately, I don’t yet have an Operating System for it.  I found out the student version of Windows 7 that I planned to use was only an upgrade option.  Now I have to find a solution.  I will probably write another post when it is complete.

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New Computer – History

The first computer I ever bought was a cheap Compaq, during a 1998 day-after-Thanksgiving sale. That computer quickly outgrew it’s usefulness and 2 years later I decided I would try to build my own computer.

Building a computer seemed fairly easy, and generally it was, but there was some frustration along the way. At the end, I probably didn’t get exactly the computer I wanted but I did learn a lot. However, the next computer I bought was from Alienware.

Alienware is a little overpriced but I feel that they do provide a great product (I’d rather overpay for an Alienware than for a Mac).  That computer has lasted me 7+ years without problems. However, it was a poorly timed purchase because it was just before PCI-Express ports came out for using graphics cards so it uses an AGP port and it uses RDRAM, which for simplicity terms was a losing RAM memory format.  As a result, I have not been able to upgrade that computer in any meaningful way.  The only problem this creates is that I have not been able to install any new games in the last couple years.  Civilization IV and Guild Wars were the last new games I installed.

That has been okay because I convinced my wife a while ago that I needed an Xbox 360 and a Playstation 3.  So far, I can’t even find the time to play the games I do have on those systems as well as the other ones I want to get.  However, I have been jonesin for a new computer for a long time and I think I have done a fairly good job of being patient.  Especially since before this stretch, I was getting a new computer every 2 years.

In anticipation of a new computer I went ahead and bought the case that I wanted over a year ago. I have been checking prices and reading articles now for probably 2 years and keeping spreadsheets on what parts I want to buy and how much they cost.  Of course, given with the way the market changes so quickly that spreadsheet has evolved plenty over time. As a matter of fact the day I finally made the majority of my purchase I changed my mind on motherboard at the last minute.

So finally, at the beginning of this month I have saved enough money (after relinquishing enough to buy my wife a Kindle) to buy the computer I want.  Tomorrow, I will post the details of the hardware components.

–Ries, finally getting his fix

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