Monday, December 31, 2012

Book #95 - The Legend of the Sword

51cRlGefyTL._AA160_The second book of the In Her Name series, Legend of the Sword takes place six months after the first one ends. Young Sato has command of a vessel, patrolling and shaking down one of the newer heavy cruisers as most of humankind prepares for the next battle with the Kreelan.

This book was just as captivating as the first, with more depth being given to some of the characters and fleshing out the future galaxy. Tesh-Dar occupies a lot of this book as she leads and assault on Saint Petersburg, a planet settled by former Soviets. We hear about her past, and her journey to become a high priestess. It’s an interesting look at the culture of the Kreelan. She must choose a successor, and chooses one of her warriors from book 1, Li’ara Zhurah, who must face her own demons.

For the humans, we see a bit more of Ichiro growing up, and we see the problems in politics rearing their heads. The Earth government sends a fleet to Saint Petersburg, both to defend the nearby planet Riga, which is like a Soviet vassal state, and to contain nuclear weapons the Russians have. It’s almost like the cold war again, and we find a new spy, Valentina, who infiltrates Saint Petersburg.

As with a great story, the timing works out, with the Kreelan arriving in system just after the Earth fleet, and the military joining forces. There are some shaky situations, and with so many characters dying, I was always wondering who might go next. Another exciting book, and looking forward to Book 3.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Water Heater

It’s pretty much done.

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I added framing around the top today, and the front, cutting and screwing things together as it got colder outside. I added the plastic on the front, which was fairly easy, but the wind challenged me slightly. I wasn’t sure how to insulate it, but ended up with a few more pieces on the side to plug gaps and then spraying in insulation around the edges.

Things are drying now. I need to add paint, and then insulation on top, but tomorrow I think Tia and I will move it to the pasture and see how it does.

More Repairs, more food, more cleaning, and more entertainment

Yesterday was action packed for me. Despite a sore neck, the day was full of things to do. I ran errands, but ended up with a larger to-do list at the end. As I was out, the “Check 4WD” light came on in the Suburban. I almost stopped there, but with the iPhone, I searched a bit and found that most of the time this is just a switch to be replaced. Even if it’s more, it’s usually just fluid that needs to be changed and doesn’t affect 2WD operation. I kept going to get a car wash since the truck was filthy.

As I was coming out of the wash, water started dripping on me from the sun roof. I opened the moon roof cover and got a small trickle of water down. Not sure if the seals are failing or if it was open slightly. I know it seemed to do fine in the snow last week, I suspect that it was cracked open slightly from someone hitting the switch, but something to watch.

At home I marinated steak and painted balusters to repair the stairs. Not much work, but steady set of things to repair while I was doing laundry. I cooked the steak after running, along with some vegetables, and the kids loved them, eating things up quickly. I had to save some to the side for Tia or they would have eaten it all. Always nice when the kids like what I’ve cooked. The recipe is from a book I got at the library, and I skipped the citrus sauce, which the kids didn’t like. The quick version is:

  • tequila
  • lime juice
  • chipotle in adobo
  • clinatro
  • salt
  • pepper
  • oil

All of that blended together and then used to marinate steak. Last time was tri tips, this time was flank steak. A little fatty in places, but I trimmed it well, and the kids loved it. Be warned, I used two chipotle’s and it was a bit spicy.

Kendall went to bed early, and we had to return the steam cleaner to Wal-Mart. Tia had cleaned our room’s carpet, and the living room, as we have people coming over. We drove down, returned it, which was really simple. It’s neat to see the devices in an automated cage. Delaney and I had rented it the night before in about 3 minutes by typing on the panel. The return was almost as quick, with me typing my name and serial number from the device and the cage opening. That was it.

Afterwards we went to see the late showing of “This is 40”. It’s long, but it was hilarious, having us laughing out loud in places. It’s crude, it’s a farce, and in many cases you will cringe as you laugh since it’s the outrageous things you might want to say or do, but don’t. Very enjoyable.

Home after midnight, and tired today, but a good weekend so far.

Book #94 - In Her Name First Contact

517bcTru9UL._AA160_Looking for another science fiction story after the Harvester series, I stumbled on Michael Hicks series from an Amazon recommendation. In Her Name First Contact is the first of the series in time, though like Star Wars, it’s not the first story told by the author. He started later, and came back to this trilogy.

The writing is good, and it flows well, but not great. There are a few typos, but not bad. Overall, it’s one of the better free books I’ve read. However the story is fantastic.

Humans have colonized over a 100 worlds, and are sending out survey ships looking for more. We start with one ship, and get to know her Captain and a few officers as they run into the first alien civilization humans have encountered. They implement their first contact protocols, but are disabled and boarded before they can do anything. The invaders are blue skinned women, who use technology far beyond the humans to capture their ship, but then board the ship (unheard of in space) and slaughter the crew with swords. The only survivors, 23 of them, are then healed and taken aboard the alien vessel where they are put to battle in an arena. Only one survivors, young Sato, who is sent back to Earth with very little other than a globe that counts down the arrival of the Kreelan (the aliens) at one of the human worlds to do battle.

The author jumps between the humans and Tesh-Dar, a high preistess with the Kreelan. They are an ancient race, one that battles for honor and does so evenly. They live to find a race worthy of their skills, to test and challenge them. Reminding me of ancient Samarai, they match their weapons and technology to the other races, and do so when they invade the human space.

Most of the book is the battle between the Kreelan and humans, from different points of view. Characters develop among the humans, and the Kreelan, as the story moves between them. It’s a captivating story I could hardly put down, buying the second book as soon as I was done with the first.

Worth the read, and the first one is free as a ebook.

How to Write a Joke

I thought this was interesting. It’s from Seinfeld, talking about how to write a joke.

How to write a Joke

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another Easy Day

I woke up with a sore neck nerve, probably from lifting too hard yesterday. Delaney and I went to run errands and hit the gym. We rode bikes and then lifted, a good hard workout for him, and probably a little too hard for me. I tried to take it easy, but near the end I was pushing to get done and was tired.

We also looked at laptops, and Delaney has his sights set on one of a few models around $600. We told him he needs to earn half the money, and he can then take the other half from savings. He's motivated, and we'll see what happens.

Today was an easy day. Some reading, errands, and working on getting the house cleaned up for New Years. I cut and painted some balusters on the stairs, and touched up others. Tomorrow those need to get nailed into place. We also steam cleaned the carpets and I did laundry. A quiet, around the house day.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Steamboat 2012

We came back a day early with a storm coming in and no chance to ski today. Arriving late last night, we opened Christmas presents, which were mysteriously under the tree when we got here. Smile

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Our week in Steamboat was great. Kyle was here late Thursday night, and the kids were excited to see him after they got home from their last half day of school. We’d packed up and we left, having a fairly easy drive to Steamboat. We got in late, and I was tired, but it wasn’t as bad a few trips through the pass.

We had a nice two story condo at the top of the Legacy hotel just outside Steamboat. This was the view from the kids loft.

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Tia and I were in another room, a cave almost, which had me sleeping late on Saturday. We got up and headed to breakfast, leaving Kendall behind. She said her ankle hurt and didn’t want to ski. It’s nice that the kids are old enough we can do that.

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We had a quick breakfast of bagel sandwiches. In the line I’d seen a chocolate croissant and grabbed one. Tia followed my lead, but Delaney really liked them, eating half of each of ours. I decided to make some the next day and bought things that night.

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On the mountain we started out with an easy run down from the gondola, and then moved to a blue run on the right side of the peak.

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It wasn’t too cold, sunny, and I thought we were having fun, but Delaney struggled a bit, feeling people might hit him and not enjoying the bumps. I could sympathize as that was one reason I hadn’t loved Steamboat.

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He wanted to leave early, so we called it a day around 3 and headed back. A quiet dinner, and the start of a puzzle were the activities. I was tired, and skipped running for the first time in over four years.

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I made chocolate croissants and coffee the next morning, and this time Delaney wanted to stay back as well. We had more food in the condo and weren’t worried, so Tia, Kyle, and I headed up.

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We had a good time, exploring some of the backside. The views are amazing, and here we came around a corner and the valley opened up. This doesn’t do it justice, but it was amazing.

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We went down some challenging slopes on the back, but they were quiet with few people and we loved it. Lots of fresh snow made it a great day.

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We skiied a bunch, had a late lunch and then finished up with just a couple runs down the front before heading back to the condo.

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We went out for pizza, getting into town for a bit. The kids wanted to swim, so we dropped them at the Hot Springs while Tia and I had a quiet date night to ourselves.

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The puzzle kept progressing, and Monday I went out early myself. I got in some great runs before Kendall and the others came over. I took Kendall to learn some snowboarding. She’s been wanting to try, so I took her on the bunny slope and tried to help her get going

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She did really well and by the end of the day could go down on her heels pretty well. An excellent start to a new skill for her and she enjoyed it. On the way out, she found a little friend.

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Christmas day was cold and only the adults wanted to go out. We managed to get kids showered, and then hit the slopes. It was cold, but we bundled up and hit the back side, working on some deep powder skills.

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We went down a few blacks, and stopped to take pictures in deep snow.

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I didn’t get great ones, but it was amazing. Tia fell a few times, something I haven’t seen in years. Of course, I’ve never seen her with snow up to her knees.

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It was slightly intimidating in places, especially when we went through trees.

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But we had great fun. There was even one point when I had snow up to mid-thigh. No picture, but Tia got a few of me coming through the trees.

Lunch was more than snickers and hot chocolate, but those were welcome.

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In the afternoon I raced down and met Kendall at the bottom for a short practice at the end of the day. She improved skills, and was ready to go the next day. Kyle even took her up for a few short runs on the lift while Tia and I got my boot fixed. I’d broken a wire and it had to be replaced.

Wednesday we worked on finishing the puzzle. Tia was tired and didn’t want to ski, but wanted this done before we left. Delaney and I joined in over breakfast.

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We finally finished it. We’d started at Thanksgiving, and restarted this week.

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With that done, we headed to the slopes. Tia dropped the four of us off and we worked up and down the lower greens, letting Kendall practice. She had some good runs, some hard falls, and around an hour and a half later, was ready for lunch. We all ate together, and then decided to pack up and leave to beat the storm.

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It was a great week, and one that I hope we do again. The little kids weren’t that into the snow, but they’re old enough to stay back if they like and let Tia and I ski.

Book #93 - Bitter Harvest

51ekCfnjO9L._AA160_As soon as I was done with book 1, I grabbed book 2, Bitter Harvest, to see what was coming in the series. All the Harvesters were dead in book 1, so are more coming from outer space? A word of warning, if you start this book, it ends with a cliff hanger, and I am not stuck waiting for book #3.

Book 2 starts a few months after book 1. Jack and Naomi are working for the government, but a new administration has come into power after the previous one dropped a nuclear bomb on California. They have made no progress finding “The Bag”, the one missing 100lb bag of seed from book 1 that was never accounted for. The new administration thinks it doesn’t exist, all the Harvester bodies were burned, and it doesn’t seem there is a reason to keep funding Jack and Naomi. They’re identities are restored, and they’re fired.

The book tries to bring in lots of back story, explaining things along the way, which is probably necessary, but annoying. Some of the situations are a little too outlandish and almost seemed forced by the author. The writing isn’t as good as book 1, but it’s still a wild story. Naomi goes to work for another bio-tech company, that happens to have some of the seeds from The Bag. Naomi is torn, and eventually calls Renee at the FBI when there seem to be outbreaks in India, China, and Russia that might be related to the Harvesters. After all, it’s been enough time in the new administration for corn to be planted and harvested.

It has been, and Jack heads to India, where a former colleague called him after being in an accident. With the help of Vijay’s brother who is in the special forces (a forced situation), they find harvesters in a village and manage to escape. While India grapples with the problem, Jack goes to Russia where Mikhailov (from the first book) has been sent to deal with an outbreak there. He survives, and is reunited with Jack.

The book mainly follows Jack’s unbelievable, action adventure in Russia, getting in and out of impossible situations while jumping back to Naomi in the US, where there’s an outbreak in LA. Finally people start to believe this is a problem, as this new breed of harvesters takes over the city.

The science and story are hard to follow in places. If we have these new harvesters reproducing every hour, it doesn’t seem like the scale of what’s seen in the book makes sense. It seems almost too slow, especially when there are so many to fight.

Characters die, and it’s a scary proposition, but this seems more sci-fi fantasy than the scary realistic problems that might come in book 1 (outside of the mimicry).

As I mentioned, it ends on a cliffhanger, surprising me when I turned the page and it was over. I really want to read book 3 now.

Book #92 - The Season of the Harvest

515RCZlRfmL._AA160_A science fiction that borders on horror, but really captivated my interest. I grabbed Season of the Harvest, a free ebook, as I was leaving for vacation. It’s the story of an FBI agent, who hears his best friend, a fellow agent, was killed during an investigation into a bio-tech company. Supposedly this was to ferret out terrorists that had been attacking these companies.

He is supposed to go home and not involve himself, but he can’t leave it. Jack, the FBI agent, gets involved, goes to his friend’s condo and finds it trashed. He goes to the FBI lab, let in by a friend, and sees there is something strange. He suspects a problem and takes 3 corn kernels that were in the magazine of his dead friend’s gun.

As he arrives home, he’s warned that “they are coming for him, get his shotgun ready, and trust his cat”. It’s cryptic, but he follows it and when three FBI agents come to question him, he knows something is wrong. When his cat freaks out, he barely manages to save himself. He shoots two of them, but his rounds don’t seem to have much effect. Someone else crashes through his window and tasers him and the agent.

He wakes up in a new world. A world where there are aliens among us. They’re called the “Harvesters” and have been working on genetic technology to get humans to help them build the GMO corn seeds Jack stole from the gun.

What follows is an amazing, and scary story. It’s unbelievable, and not likely possible, but still scary. The book goes to an amazing conclusion as a small group of freedom fighters try to save humanity.

The End of a Streak

I stopped running last Friday.

After 1564 days, I reached a point where it didn’t work in my life. I was on vacation with the family, we’d skied all day, it was late, kids were hungry, and I needed to cook some dinner. I was thinking to take 20 minutes out of the late afternoon and run, but the hotel where we had booked a week didn’t have a exercise room. It was icy outside, which felt too dangerous to me for a run there.

I  could have driven over to a local health club, but interrupting every afternoon, especially when I’d worked hard on the mountain, just didn’t seem worth it. Delaying dinner was even a worse idea, to me. So I made the decision to stop, and move on with life. I knew this streak would end in 2013 with a week long scout trip on a sailboat, so I was prepared.

Putting aside my streak, I went to the store, bought groceries, cooked dinner and called it an easy night with the family.

And I was OK with it. It felt a little weird not to run, but I was tired from skiing and my body didn’t miss the exertion. The rest of the week I skiied hard, not worrying about saving anything for a run and enjoyed the time off. As of today, it’s been 6 days since I’ve run, though I’ll run today.

I was 234 on the active streak list that day, and ending at 1564 puts me at #114 on the retired list. I sent in my note today that I was done.

I may start another one, but not right now. I do want to aim for exercise every day, but I’d like to try a few new things. My wife has wanted to try hot yoga, and I’d like to give that a go. I am aiming for some swimming, more weight lifting, and perhaps even back into martial arts along with the skiing, baseball, volleyball, and of course, running.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Packing Up

For vacation. Heading to Steamboat tonight, and trying to get everything ready. Excited to leave down and hit the slopes with the family.

Great to see Kyle back as well. He got in late last night from Seattle.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Top Ten Books of 2012 for Bill Gates

Saving his list for myself.

  1. The Better Angels of our Nature: Why Violence has Declined by Steven Pinker

  2. Deng Xiaoping by Ezra Vogel

  3. The Quest by Daniel Yergin

  4. Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer

  5. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

  6. One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World? by Gordon Conway

  7. A World-Class Education by Vivien Stewart

  8. Academically Adrift by Richard Arum & Joshipa Roksa

  9. This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhart & Kenneth Rogoff

  10. The City that Became Safe: New York’s Lessons for Urban Crime and Its Control by Franklin Zimring

I haven’t read any of them, but I do think that Mr. Gates is trying to make the world a better place outside of technology, and he’s a brilliant person. The fact that these books made him think makes me want to try and read a few next year.

A little errand break

I realized we were out of milk, almost out of guacamole, and the queso I planned on making later was old. So I convinced Tia to go with me to town for a quick trip in case the weather worsened. It isn’t supposed to, but I’ve lost most of my faith in weather-people.

We had a nice drive to town, warm in the heated seats of the Suburban. The roads weren’t bad and we ended up loading up on some groceries and getting Tia some coffee and me a diet mountain dew.

A nice ride and chat with my lovely wife.

Cruising

I drove my car yesterday.

It’s been a few months since I’ve taken the Porsche out of the garage. Cooler weather, and trying to stick with the Prius more have had it sitting there.

A few weeks ago I went to take it and the battery was dead. I think the alarm drains it too quickly if I don’t drive it. Jumping it is a pain, mostly because of where the battery is. One of my projects this winter is to get a release on the battery so I can disconnect it easily for long periods, and also to re-write where the alarm comes in so jumper cables can attach.

Last weekend I got the portable charger hooked up, but it didn’t have enough charge to start it and I ended up taking another car and leaving it there. Yesterday I planned on getting it started before the snow came and running to town. I pushed it out of the garage and then got busy. The sun got lower and lower, but finally at 5:00, I jumped it from the Suburban and drove to get Kendall.

I love driving that car.

The End of the World

From Facebook, but I had to repost. It’s funny.

Mayan

Book #91 - Spinward Frings #7 - Framework



The latest book in the Spinward Fringe series, and not the last I hope. I wasn’t aware this was out until a friend posted that they had just finished Framework. I had a pile of other books in progress, but I grabbed this and started it when I had the chance.
It was slightly confusing, so I had to go back and re-read book 6 to get caught up. In this one war is inevitable, and the crew of the Triton is starting to rebuild their lives in the Rega Gain system. Jake and Ayan still haven’t rekindled their romance, though they love each other. However a glimpse of the future for Ayan has her pushing him to leave and start pirating to finance their colony. She negotiated an island on the moon, and needs funds to start rebuilding.
Meanwhile the Triton is a mess, but some amazing pieces of it come to life, including Ashley’s link, and Larry’s identity. The First Light crew loses one of their members, but I won’t tell you which one. It’s more of a drama, a true space opera for much of the book, but it kept me interested.
We still have another whole other side to this story with Hampon, Wheeler, and Eve on the other side of the galaxy. Quite a twist there with the Victory Machine and views of the future. Eve dreams of Alice and the past, but there are also views of what might come. We learn a lot about how this machine has been impacting the story.
I enjoyed it, but it’s a lot to think about. I

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cutie

Kendall looked really cute this morning, and she’s wearing the necklace a friend gave her.

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A little more progress

on my water heater.

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I painted a bit to see how it would take. I need to cut down the insulation a touch to add more bracing, but it’s coming together.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Another Block

We went to play volleyball last night, another practice session, this time with all four of us. We worked on a few skills, with another adult from our team, and then ended up playing a scrimmage with the other girls team and their coaches.

It was a pretty good practice. We had some good volleys, and could see how the other team is definitely improving with 3 hits lots of the time. I got Kendall to switch with me a few times to let me set and she had some good spikes. One really good one near the end that tipped the net and dropped over. She isn’t jumping, and if she had, I think she would have knocked over on a great downward angle. A few of her others were nicely angled to the side.

The adults didn’t do much, though there was one time the other coaches set each other up and I got up with a good block. My timing and angle is getting better, and I’m looking forward to our game this Thursday.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A Lazy Day

A few margaritas last night during Uno with kids and I woke up with a headache today. Just felt a little off, plus my neck was sore earlier. I just took it easy, watching football and doing laundry after feeding horses.

A run, lifting, and I think I'll just take it easy today and get back to work and chores tomorrow.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Water Heater

I was aiming for this. So far, I’ve ended up with this.

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We are hoping to try out an insulated box for water out in the far pasture. There’s no power there, and no chance of it coming, so this is the best idea we’ve seen.

I had to work on a hot wire in the dog pen first, which didn’t seem to work great, but I was getting tired and gave up. Into town for supplies and then back home, trying to focus and concentrate on the box. I managed to get the bottom, sides, and back cut, and started the bracing to tie it together, but realized I’d missed up one measurement.

I’ve been a little cranky today, since we were supposed to snowboard, but Kendall didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to leave her here. It was also cold up there, 20F and I wasn’t sure Delaney would want to board much. After that, a constant stream of little things not going well, so when the pieces didn’t match up and I needed to adjust things, I decided to quit for the day and go run.

Feeling better now.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Skiing

This week was my first day of vacation-for-skiing of the winter. I’ve been a few days over Thanksgiving, but otherwise it’s been too busy to take time off. This week I finally decided to do it, with new snow in the mountains over the weekend. Tia decided to take a day off and join me, so after dropping the kids off at the bus, we packed up. Skis on top

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Gear inside

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A nice day on the mountain. A touch cold, but not horrible. It was windy, and the rides up the lift were hard in a few places. It was peaceful, not crowded, and even though there were only a few good blue slopes open, we had a fun time.

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I grabbed a short video, but with the sun behind us coming down the mountain, it was hard to find good spots to shoot. Plus it was cold and I wanted to snowboard.

We had a quick lunch, did two short runs afterwards, and headed home.

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We were late getting the kids and they were not happy. Both were cold and complained quite a bit. Still didn’t ruin our day Winking smile

Pony

As we drove away to take the kids this morning we saw this

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The little pony had wrecked the fence, or at least that’s what we think. A broken post was down and 4 sections of fence tangled, broken, or otherwise wrecked. After an hour or so of work, we went out there and tried to fix things. I dug out the post, which was hard.

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Then we restrung wire through, splicing in new sections as needed. It didn’t take too long, maybe an hour, but it was a chore I wasn’t expecting today.

At least pony went to jail, locked in a stall and run for the time being.

Book #90 - Wormhole

implicitThe end of the Rho Agenda series. Wormhole is book 3, and I’m sad that the series ended, but I think the author did a good job of building a sci-fi thriller here. It’s fantastic, unbelievable, and unlikely, but a next story.

The book starts a bit after the end of book 2. A potential black hole appeared at the large super collider in Europe and the world’s scientists think it might decay into a black hole that destroys the Earth. The only person that seems to understand is Stephenson, and they arrange for him to be pardoned and released.

The kids are in South America, with Jack and Janet, training. They know they’ll be captured at some point and near the beginning of the book they are. However they’re prepared. I don’t want to give the story away, but it’s a wild ride.

Raul is back, as is Stephenson and Tall Bear and the book jumps around as it follows different characters through to the final, amazing and wild finale. A fun read, but you really need to read books 1 and 2 before this one.

The dkRanch Guacamole Recipe

Here it is, since I’ve been asked a few times. Note that this is a bit of an evolution in progress, so I’ll list the places where I substitute things at times.

Ingredients

  • 3-4 avocados - need to be ripe, which is mostly black and semi-firm. I don’t love soft ones, but you have to decide what you want. Hard ones work, but aren’t as good, IMHO. 3 or 4, depending on size and how avocado-ey you want your dip.
  • 1 small onion - I have used red, yellow, and white. I prefer red, since I think they have a sharper flavor. White work well, not quite as tasty. I don’t like yellow ones in this mix.
  • 3 Tbsp. lime juice - I use the little plastic container that looks like a lime. If you want to use fresh, I might use 1, depending on your taste you might want a second.
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped cilantro - I see bunches in different sizes. In the small bunches, I use about 1/2 the bunch.
  • 2-3 Serrano peppers - I’ve used a single jalapeno instead, but it got a little too spicy for the family. We’ve used a red pepper from the garden, just one, and that was fairly spicy
  • 2 Tbsp. minced garlic - I like garlic and tend to use the packaged, minced version. If you prefer fresh, then I might go with 3-4 cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. sea salt - more or less, depending on what you want
  • 1 tsp. black pepper - fresh, box, whatever
  • 1/2 chopped tomato - I prefer the Roma ones, in which case I might use 2, but if I just have a regular tomato, a 1/2. Grape tomatoes, maybe 8 or 9.

Feel free to add corn, pineapple, etc if you want. I’ve experimented a bit substituting things for the tomato, but the kids think it’s weird.

Instructions

I’ve made this a few ways, but this is the current process I use.

In a large bowl, scoop out the avocados. If you don’t know how to open and get the fruit out, go learn. It’s easy, but I’m not explaining it here.

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I add the rest of the ingredients on top. The order doesn’t really matter, but I’ll talk about each one separately.

Chop the cilantro and dump it on top of the avocados. I chop it fairly finely, going from side to side a few times to get it cut in both directions.

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Next is the onion. I prefer the red onions, but white work well. In this case, I had a large red one, so I used about half of it. I slice it into 1/4-1/2” slices and then dice those into small pieces.

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I dump these on top of the mix, just letting them sit there.

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Next I add garlic. As I mentioned, I prefer the pre-minced kind, but you can use fresh if you like. I use about 3 tbsp of this stuff, or I’d probably go with 4 cloves, chopped, if I used fresh. I like garlic, so you have to adjust this if you aren’t as big a fan.

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Lime juice. Easier for me to keep things around in these containers. Just pour if over the ingredients.

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Salt

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I use a sea salt grinder, so it’s about 10-12 turns for me to get a tsp.

Add pepper on top.

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Next are the peppers. I prefer Serrano, though if everyone liked it a little spicier, fresh jalapenos work well. Looking forward to seeing how red chilies from the garden work again next summer.

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I cut the stems off, and then split them in half. I remove the seed so things aren’t too spicy. Under cold water, I use my thumb to scrape out the middles of the peppers, leaving me with just the green skins.

I then slice this into strips and chop them finely into little bits.

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From here, I start to mix things together. I’ll use the edge of the spoon to cut into the avocado as needed (depending on ripeness). Once I have pieces, I’ll use the back of the spoon to smash things together a bit and then mix them up. I’ll rotate the bowl, working my way around, alternatively cutting, smashing, and mixing things together.

I go for a well mixed, but still chunky consistency. This is the post-mix look.

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Now I add tomatoes. They don’t need to be smashed into the mix, so these are cut once things are mixed. I had a large hot house tomato, so I used about 3/4 of it for 4 avocados. This was a touch much, but no one complained.

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I dump those on top and then lightly mix them in. At this point the spoon is just stirring, not smashing or pressing.

The final dip

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We prefer On the Border, CafĂ© Style, chips. They’re lighter and tastier than most of the others we’ve tried. I actually get complaints if I’ve purchased other chips, so those are our standard. I prefer Mission chips myself, but I’ve been out-voted at the Ranch.

Alternative Mix

I learned to make this at a restaurant in Del Mar, tableside, and we used a mortar and pestle (which I don’t have, hint, hint, gifts welcome). In lieu of that, I’ve used this same bowl, with this technique.

Put the garlic, salt, pepper, lime, cilantro, and chilies in the bowl first. Using the back side of the spoon (as your mortar), press and smash the ingredients into the wall of the bowl. Rotate the bowl, then press again, essentially trying to grind things up and release and mix the flavors. Keep rotating and pressing, and eventually you have a bit of a paste. If you have a pestle, now transfer this to your bowl.

Add the onion and avocados and mix well.

I would then add diced tomatoes and mix in, though at the restaurant, we would just add 1/4cup as a scoop on top and leave it there.