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Archive for December 2008

Games and fun

December 31st, 2008 — 11:53am

After driving Henry to his friend’s house to spend the night and buying a new set of tires, I went over to Chloe’s house yesterday afternoon to play. I took Ingenious along, and a new game that Henry’s uncle sent to us, Bananagrams, and four decks of cards. First we taught Bob to play Ingenious and played a couple times (great game, easy to learn and a nice mixture of luck and strategy) and then we tried out Bananagrams. It was tremendously fun! You have a pile of letter tiles and simply arrange them into a crossword-type grid. When you’ve used all your letters you’re supposed to shout PEEL! (or something… We opted not to shout out the banana-themed cues, and just shouted “END!” when someone came to the end of his letters.) at which point every player takes another letter from the remaining tiles and the game continues. You can rearrange your tiles as often as you want. When there are fewer remaining letters than players, the person who first uses up all his letters is the winner. Simple! And there are no turns, so there’s no waiting around for someone to figure out how to get the “V” on the triple letter score. Having a rich vocabulary is helpful, of course, but being flexible counts almost as much! It might be better to make lots of tiny simple words, and you might have to destroy a nice word so that you can use up some more letters. I can hardly wait to play again.

When Celia was sick of Banangrams, we played 4-way multiple solitaire, which I’m sure I’ve described here before but to reiterate — every player has his own deck, and lays out a hand of Klondike. Player sit facing each other around a common area where the aces are played. Any player can play to any ace. The player who plays the most cards to the aces, or who goes out first, wins. This is our family card game and is played at every family gathering, with up to 6 participants (any more than that and you have to THROW the cards toward the aces :)

Later on, B and C decided to buy a football game (Madden NFL All-Play 09) and brought it over to our house to play on our wii, heheheh. It was great fun to watch them playing. Football bewilders me, but it seemed like a really well-executed game, and it sure sounded just like a real football match! And Bob and I got into a Blood, Sweat, and Tears frenzy, somehow, and started singing snippets of Lucretia MacEvil etc. which probably drove Chloe up the wall :) Oh I know — it was after they stopped playing football and started tinkering with the wii aquarium, and the Eric Satie piece started playing, which made us think of the BS&T version.

Meanwhile I did a fantastic quest chain in Dragonblight, the one that ends with you fighting in the Undercity! Tremendous fun!

Lots of games, lots of fun, hope we can play more today!

2 comments » | Blog

The Book of Art for Young People, Chapter 15

December 29th, 2008 — 7:18am

The Book of Art for Young People, by Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway
First published in 1909. Read by Kara Shallenberg.

Chapter 15: The Nineteenth Century


Since we began our voyagings together among the visionary worlds of the great painters, five hundred and thirty years ago, at the accession of King Richard II., we have journeyed far and wide, trudging from the rock where Cimabue found the boy Giotto drawing his sheep’s likeness. The battleship of Turner has now brought us to the mid-nineteenth century, a time within the memories of living men, and still our journey is not ended.

Here is the painting discussed in this chapter:

Red Ridinghood
Red Ridinghood (by Watts)

Come back next Monday for the first chapter of our next book!

(Impatient? Get the entire audio book for free here:

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Patchwork Kingdom

December 27th, 2008 — 7:50pm

A friend of mine in England has a family business making and selling darling little papercraft people and animals. His wife does the artwork! They very kindly sent me a bundle of goodies a while back. Tonight my right hand, which has been very sore from too much Christmas knitting, finally felt well enough that I could use scissors, so I made two of the little animals into Christmas ornaments! They are printed in several layers, which you cut out and then assemble with little sticky foam pads between them to give a 3-D effect. Here’s a Polar Bear:

polar bear

Doesn’t he look wistful under his mistletoe?

And here’s a jolly Christmas-tree bearing Camel:


And here’s how his components looked before he was assembled:

camel pieces

There are several more in the package — a turkey carrying a plum pudding, robins with crackers, and penguins playing in the snow, plus more poses from the camel and the bear. Can’t wait to make more!

Comment » | Blog, Handmade

Merry Christmas, everyone!

December 25th, 2008 — 12:04pm

We just didn’t get around to doing Christmas cards this year, so to all my dear wonderful friends and family — Merry Christmas! (Or, as a friend of mine typoed, “Married Christmas!”)

Here’s a little treat for you: NPR’s Tinsel Tales, an hour-long collection of NPR Christmas stories.

Christmas is a time of traditions, and over the years, NPR has created a few traditions of its own. In this hour-long special: Wistfulness, joy, doubt, hope, all the emotions we feel at this time of year, all summoned up in memorable stories from the NPR broadcast archives.

David Sedaris, Bailey White, John Henry Faulk — these and other NPR voices, past and present, tell stories of the season. It may be you’ll remember these tales fondly, or it may be you’ll fall in love with them for the first time.

Get comfy, pour a cup of something warm and tasty, and enjoy the stories. :)

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The Book of Art for Young People, Chapter 14

December 22nd, 2008 — 7:14am

The Book of Art for Young People, by Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway
First published in 1909. Read by Kara Shallenberg.

Chapter 14: Turner


Later in life, Turner travelled in France, Germany, and Italy. In Venice his eyes were gladdened by the gorgeous colours above her lagoons. Henceforth he makes his pictures blaze with hues scarcely dared by painter before. But so great was his previous mastery of the paler shades, that a few touches of brilliant colour could set his whole canvas aflame. Even in the ‘Temeraire,’ the sunset occupies less than half the picture. The cold colours of night have already fallen on the ship, and there remains but a touch of red from the smoke of the tug.

Here is the painting discussed in this chapter:

The Fighting Temeraire
The Fighting Temeraire (by Turner)

Come back next Monday for chapter 15!

(Impatient? Get the entire audio book for free here:

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How to listen to KPBS on a mac

December 17th, 2008 — 9:15am

I used to listen to KPBS’s radio stream all the time, but it stopped working a while back. I don’t have a radio in my house, and I really missed my KPBS. Their stream didn’t work at all in Windows Media Player, which is what you’re supposed to use, but which of course is a piece of crap. When I tried to use VLC I was able to hear the little commercial they play before you get to hear the radio broadcast, but then it stopped and that was it. I finally reached Skot Norton, a very helpful (and Mac-savvy!!) fellow at the station who provided me with a special link: .

Want to listen to KPBS? Got a Mac? First, install VLC. It’s free, and very useful for watching or listening to all sorts of media. Run it, then choose File -> Open File and paste that special KBPS link into the box. Hit the Ok button, wait a moment while it buffers, and enjoy! I’ve got Morning Edition on right now, and last night I listened to BBC news, and then at 7 there was the Writers’ Almanac (it was Jane Austen’s birthday!) and then they switched to classical music, as usual, and there was lots of Beethoven ’cause it was (probably) his birthday too.

Hooray for KPBS!

1 comment » | Blog, Tech

The Book of Art for Young People, Chapter 13

December 15th, 2008 — 7:05am

The Book of Art for Young People, by Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway
First published in 1909. Read by Kara Shallenberg.

Chapter 13: Reynolds and the Eighteenth Century


The eighteenth century was a time when politicians and men of letters had the habit of gathering in the coffee-houses of London—forerunners of the clubs of to-day. Conversation was valued as one of life’s best enjoyments, and the varied society of actors, authors, and politicians, in which it flourished best, could only be obtained in the town. To the most distinguished circle of that kind in London, our painter Reynolds belonged.

Here is the painting discussed in this chapter:

The Duke of Gloucester
The Duke of Gloucester (by Reynolds)

Come back next Monday for chapter 14!

(Impatient? Get the entire audio book for free here:

2 comments » | Audiobooks, Blog

Knitting update

December 13th, 2008 — 10:22am

A few weeks ago, Mom commissioned me to make a hat for her friend. The friend wanted stripes in lime green, blue, and cream, so we bought Knitpicks’ Telemark in Northern Green, Cobalt, and Cream, one ball of each. I started the hat last weekend, top-down, and it took a few tries to got a crown that I liked (it took all day Saturday), but once I had it going it was a quick, fun project. I did stripes and cables, for fun, and a turn-up that’s knit inside out so it’s right-side out when turned up :) And I lined it with a band of polar fleece around the ears. Here’s the project on Ravelry: Commissioned Striped Hat

Henry modeling for me:


And here is a shot of the turn-up unfolded:


And folded:


I also finished a gift for someone a couple of days ago. It’s in the mail, and I’ll post about it when the recipient lets me know it got there! And I’ve got a few Christmas presents on my needles, too, which of course I can’t post about yet :)

4 comments » | Blog, Handmade

The Book of Art for Young People, Chapter 12

December 8th, 2008 — 7:01am

The Book of Art for Young People, by Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway
First published in 1909. Read by Kara Shallenberg.

Chapter 12: Velasquez


Velasquez’s power with his brush lay in depicting vividly a scene that he saw; thus in portraiture he was at his best. He knew how to pose his figures to perfection, so as to make the expression of their character a true pictorial subject.

Here is the painting discussed in this chapter:

Don Balthazar Carlos
Don Balthazar Carlos (by Velasquez)

Come back next Monday for chapter 13!

(Impatient? Get the entire audio book for free here:

1 comment » | Audiobooks, Blog

my day

December 4th, 2008 — 8:26pm

Woke up when alarm went off at 7:35, got up, woke Henry up, jumped in the shower, woke Henry up again, made a bagel for us, woke Henry up again, in the car at 8am. Got to school a bit before 9, dropped Henry off, headed to Encinitas for gynecologist appointment. Got there nice and early, listened to iPod in the car for a while, went in, had appointment with lovely Dr. Makani. Back at school by 11, read email, knit, and played WoW till Henry was ready at leave at 3:50 (Usually done at 3 but he and his friends were working on something in computer class and got to stay extra). Had a bad headache at school but Dan suggested drinking a bit of coffee and it really helped! Hideous traffic all the way, didn’t get home till 5:15. Left again at 6:15 to drop Henry at Kung Fu, and now all I have to do is cook dinner and clean up and then pick him up again at 9pm and then I get to go to bed!

I had a great time playing WoW. I’m still doing quests in Howling Fjord and having a grand time. Today, among many other quests, I shot down gargoyles from a prop plane, led a reef bull to his mate, and helped a friendly murloc. By the way, you can do the reef bull quest with only one fish — just aggro him, pull him over to his mate, then toss him one fish and bingo, you’re done. Now I need to collect bat poo. Um, yay?

By the way, the Rockola White Album show last weekend went really well! Henry had fun playing in the show, Dan had fun taking pictures, and I had fun listening :) More about that soon…

3 comments » | Blog

The Book of Art for Young People, Chapter 11

December 1st, 2008 — 6:57am

The Book of Art for Young People, by Agnes Ethel Conway and Sir Martin Conway
First published in 1909. Read by Kara Shallenberg.

Chapter 11: Van Dyck


Van Dyck was the first painter who taught people how they ought to look, to befit an admirer’s view of their aristocratic rank. His portraits thus express the social position of the sitter as well as the individual character. Although this has been an aim of portrait-painters in modern times, when they have been painting people of rank, it was less usual in the seventeenth century.

Here is the painting discussed in this chapter:

William II. of Orange
William II. of Orange (by Van Dyck)

Come back next Monday for chapter 12!

(Impatient? Get the entire audio book for free here:

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