Tuesday, August 24, 2010

While I Was Sleeping

I experienced a very odd phenomenon earlier today - one I think unique in my life.  I sat down at the piano to work out a little bit.  I haven't really played in a few months and my piano chops - we can call them that just for the sake of argument - were pretty flaccid.  But I've been trying to build back to functionality as a musician, and you've got to start somewhere.

About five or ten minutes in, I had the weirdest sensation - as if I were waking up.  And not just from a brief nap, but from a months- or years-long slumber.  A feeling like a veil being lifted.  Nothing so simple as just remembering how to play, but something deep inside was sparked that obviously had felt neglected or abandoned, and was stretching outside of its cave, blinking in the light.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Don't Mess Around Much, Anymore

Looking through old archive discs for some lyrics - not sure if it's more efficient to comb the files or just retype the damn things from scratch - and I stumbled across this oddity, the proposed homepage for a site for my dad:

There was a period when I really loved just fucking around in Photoshop.  I wonder at which point it became a tedious bore for me?


Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hot Stuff

Our big activity today was preparing lunch for ourselves and my mother.  Yesenia suggested Chile Rellenos (stuffed peppers, that is), which are usually filed with ground beef or cheese.  Since Yesenia can't eat cheese and we no longer eat meat, she proposed a rice and beans filling, to which I counter-proposed seitan, if we could get our hands on any.

Yesenia said she could, at the local health food store.  She then proposed thawing out an Ancho Chile sauce she'd made a while back, and I in turn suggested a tomatillo sauce, which I would make.  It's a deal, she said (or words to that effect).

Yesenia is a great cook and is confident improvising, so she just went with her instincts and prepped the Chiles each in ceramic bowls, washed, roasted cut and stuffed.  I'm very fumbly in the kitchen and only feel comfortable with a recipe to follow if I'm trying something new.  In this case, I went with the Rick Bayless salsa verde recipe, which called for six tomatillos, some spicy chile (we went with jalapeno), cilantro and onion. Well, I thought it called for onion - the onion turned out to be optional.  The preparation was simplicity itself - husk, wash and broil the tomatillos (and the chile), cool, then puree with cilantro.  And you're done.  Yesenia drizzled the sauce on the now stuffed poblano peppers - also topped with cheese (fake in her case, fresh mozzarella for me and my mother), and threw them in the oven.

And they were goddamn perfect.  Only drawback was that the salsa verde was a little hotter than expected, so next time around, I'll take the extra time to seed the jalapeno, or try serrano peppers.  I also made my usual refried beans, learned years ago.

Definitely one I want to make again.  And while Yesenia is never quite thrilled with sharing the kitchen, I think we both enjoyed a nice Sunday cooking together.  More, please.


Driving With Sand

Took a semi-planned trip down to Point Pleasant today - I'm sure pictures from the trip will turn up on Yesenia's Facebook page at some point in the next couple of days.  The day was overcast but warm and bright, and the beach was just crowded enough to feel like summer without overdoing it.

The only shame in the trip just being the two of us was that we couldn't go into the water to play at the same time.  As it was, we each took turns, with Yesenia taking a short dip while I struggled with leveling up my math skills in advance of Calculus (next week!), and then I went in for about half an hour, where I got my ass handed to me by the surf over and over.  Really took a pounding - largely because the beach there drops of quickly and the surf breaks high and fast right at the sand.  Also because I'm a big galloot who falls down hard.

By the end of my Atlantic sojourn, I'd drifted about 50 yards down the beach from where I'd first gotten in.

Of course, I did get my Kohr Bros. mint/chocolate frozen custard, a near-perfect expression of the flavors - the mint is spot-on (if a little sweet), but the chocolate is a little too quiet.

And the rest was the usual; boardwalk, skee ball, photo booth, etc.  One sign of change: we had veggie burgers at the big food pavilion, and they were actually extremely good.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

The 7 AM Rambler

I actually just logged in to deal with the spam that's built up in my comment fields - seemingly with deep irony, since a friend who I set a site up for using WordPress had recently complained that he was starting to get a fairly overwhelming amount of comment spam, and I commented something along the lines of, 'oh, shame we switched to WP from Blogger, since I almost never get spam on the Rambler.'

Cue floodgates opening wide.

Maybe not floodgates, but after next to no spam for three years, the spam comment or two I get each day is a little disheartening.  Not because I can't deal with deleting it (although it is sort of annoying that I can only delete one comment at a time, despite the fact that the spam seems to build up on specific entries and could easily be deleted as a batch), but because I don't know whether it's going to stay the same, trickle off, or just suddenly go-a-gusher.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Spam Diaries

Although Blogger is pretty good at filtering out spam in the comments, there's been a small flurry of comments across a seemingly random selection of Ramblers.  Since the blog has been going for three years and has nearly 800 entries, it's a good thing I have it email comments to me as they come in.
Mostly, the spam comments are pretty standard - lengthy bits of non-english peppered liberally with porn links,  Every once in a while, they seem so benign that it makes me even more paranoid.  Like this one:

Amiable brief and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Thank you on your information.
That appeared on one of my old Floyd reviews. No links, no nothing.  Just broken english and an insane grin.  I especially like being thanked on my information.
This one was a little more 'on': "You need debt elimination."  (Did include link to a site that promised to do just that).  Of course, I do need debt elimination.  How did they know?


Sunday, August 8, 2010

A Semi-Bummer Weekend

This weekend decided for itself in advance that both Yesenia and I would be in a mood.  Work related, seasonal mood affective disorder, we both got our period, you name it.  For whatever reason, we went into the weekend unenthusiastically and the weekend delivered as promised, as far as mood.

Which is odd, since a) we got a lot done around the house on Saturday, which always brings good vibes, and b) Ansley and Mariangela came over and hung out for hours, which was something I'd been looking forward to all week.

On (a): while Yesenia cleaned, mopped and vacuumed around the first floor, I gave my car the cleaning it's been needing for about two years.  I cleared out all the crap, dragged the vacuum outside and gave it the once over, shined the dash, and took the trunk cover out of the shed and put it back in for the first time in years.  I even went so far as to order new mats for it (although I drew the line at installing the new rosewood dash), meaning that it's going to look nicer than it has in about a decade.  Mats should be here end of next week, meaning I have something to look forward to.

After that, I took it to be washed at the extra-deluxe mondo cleaners, and realized that a car wash is really only about as good as the age of the paint job, so the car looked pretty much the same with the 'Ultra-Works' package as it would if I spat on it and then rubbed it down with my elbow.

Then it was a flurry of random stuff; took the deposits in and got $5 for my troubles, dragged about 200 pounds of fallen tree from the backyard curbside, blew the $5 on Carvel with chocolate dip.  The only thing I was stymied in was in trying to find a replacement power supply for my car CD player.  I realize I'm hopelessly behind the times, but we have one iPod and it's Yesenia's, and I really dig my pre-roadtrip routine of digging through the CD rack to find the albums I think I'm going to want to listen to for the trip.  Always a lot of Byrds, Patton Oswalt and David Cross, although hope springs eternal that I'll suddenly get a bug up my ass to listen to that Wilco album that I own but just sits in my spinner rack.

Yesenia then made an amazing Mediterranean dinner; hummus and babaganoush from scratch, salad with mint, etc.  Chilled bottles of Vinho Verde and the breeze out on the porch, with the music coming through the big screens.  Ansley & Mariangela then came over and we finished off the dinner, and Ansley and I had an epic heart-to-heart (more like spleen-to-spleen) and then all day today, Yesenia and I hung out on the couch with the windows open (again!) and watched hour after hour of Enterprise and then had Chinese Fooooood, and...

...actually, when the whole thing is written out like that, it sounds like a really great weekend.  Note-to-future-self: remember that this was a weekend when you were in a bad mood.  You're a weird guy, Dave.


Note: credit to Harvey Pekar for the perfect title for this one.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Stalking the WIld Derivative

Now that my father has returned from his month-long math excursion (in Poland, of all places), I'm now back on my Calculus tutoring in advance of Calculus at RCC in the fall.  At which point, I will likely need more Calculus tutoring.  The number of people who I would consider to be far more mathematically inclined than me who mentioned that they failed Calculus their first time is giving me pause.

Of course, those may have been people taking Calculus II or III, even, which is the point at which you get into proofs, which no doubt renders the whole thing just that much more difficult.  Math, as it turns out, is one of those things where you're better off not knowing the why or how, so much as the what.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Better Judgment

Back to the gym for the first time in many months, this evening, on the same day that I started my diet.  So, of course, tonight was pizza night at the gym.  Yesenia could avoid it easily, and I found myself idiotically envying her her dairy allergy.  I knew willpower was not enough for me, and only the threat of the food actually making me ill would keep me away from it.

Yes, I ate a slice.  But I didn't eat a second one, and that's got to count for something.

The goal here is to lose - oh, let's say fifteen pounds - by my birthday.  And if the gym won't play along, well... is it my fault that there's no part of 'free pizza' that I disagree with?

Sometime later this week, I'll post an official start weight, and do my best to keep track of my progress here.  Exciting, no?  If nothing else, it should make for some entertainingly terse and cranky Ramblers.


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Day by the River, 2010

Presented mostly without comment, a sketch of Yesenia made earlier today, during our perhaps annual outing to Haverstraw Bay Park, right along the Hudson.  She was doing a watercolor of the river, while I drew her.  Maybe someone over on the Westchester side had a pair of binoculars and was drawing me at the same time.

I've been making an effort to have the majority of the drawings in this particular sketchbook be stronger work - which means, of course, that I'm moving more slowly through the pages.  It was inaugurated with the preparatory sketch of Bettina Richmond back in March, and this drawing is only on page four, so I clearly either need to draw more or care less about quality.

This particular drawing was made with my Pitt brush pens, a set of six, with three warm grey tones and three cool grey tones.  I'm still working out how to use them, trying to see if I can get both fine detail and also soft blended textures out of a single (and here's the important bit), clean drawing tool.  Probably not - the best tool for that job will likely always be graphite.  But I can hope.