Gustav preparation

I've got the feeling that Gustav is going to head right toward Galveston early next week.

My mom and aunt have made reservations at a hotel in San Antonio for next week. I bought 4 more sheets of plywood for the windows on the apartment last night. I don't know if I'll get down the already prepped boards tonight or this weekend.

Landfall looks to be around 11pm Monday night. 72 hours ahead of that is 11pm Friday night. I want to had out 72 hours ahead of time. 55 hours lead time is what I had for Rita, and that was too little time.

55 hours in front of Monday 11pm is 4pm Saturday. It could be an exciting weekend.


Volleyball 1-2

Played against a team with only 5 players. We actually had 6!

We were down 8-16 in the first game but made it close in the end: 19-21.

Second game was a disaster.

Third was fairly close, but I don't remember the score.


Aikido weekend in Killeen 8/22/08

Sensei Tim arranged with Jeff in Killeen to come out and hold a seminar this past weekend. He wanted me along, with an ulterior motive, so I arranged my schedule and was his passenger on the trip to and from.

He picked me up at 10am Friday and we made it into Killeen by around 3pm, I think. We recuperated at the hotel until around 5 and then joined Jeff and Gail for dinner at a nice little Mexican joint near their house.

Adjourning from dinner, we went back to their place and got ready for the first session on the mat for the weekend.

There were aikidoka there from Austin, Houston, Killeen, and the DFW area. I think we had around 12 or 14 folks there Friday night.

It turned out the weekend's topic was to be the Koryu Dai Yon No Kata. We started out with the first 11 on Friday night. Saturday morning, when we reconvened, we started with the weapon sections. We made it through the knife and bokken techniques, but did not get to the jo techniques before everyone's brain was sufficiently fried.

Sensei's secret plan in getting me up there was to get me some time working on Owaza Ju Pon. I got about 45 minutes of work on the first technique. At least it felt like it. It may have been much less.

I did ok. One guy, Andy, proved to be impossible for me to complete the technique on. I have no idea why.

After finishing up with the Yon Kata stuff, we hung around Jeff's place a bit and then went back to the hotel. We zipped over to "China Star" for dinner. It has been voted the best Chinese restaurant in Killeen for 11 years straight. Ugh.

On the plus side, I did not get sick from eating there.

We were up bright and early Sunday morning and on the road. We mad it home by a little after noon.

It was a great weekend. I got to meet some new friends, renew some old friendships and get an aikido workout. Good stuff.

My legs are sore.


Volleyball 0-3

Second week of the season and we run into the buzz saw that is Fandango. We actually stayed relatively competitive, but got beat.

We played well, with a sub for our third woman.

Armadillocon recap

Another Armadillocon under the belt, I think this is my sixth for which I was the Art Show Director. This one went much better than last year's, mainly because my house got burglarized during last year's and I had to abandon the con.

We sold about $3700 worth of art, down substantially from last year's $5500. The main difference was we sold two of Gary Lippincott's originals last year.

I think the quality of the art was well-received, and I received some compliments on the organization of the show. So, I'm happy.

I did mess up some stuff, but it magically all worked out. I've got ideas on how to correct them for next year. I've also got some ideas to generally improve my process and improve the experience for everyone, I think.

Armadillocon Monday

I didn't sleep well, waking up at 5am and unable to get back to sleep for 1/2 hour. Then, woke up later than I liked, a little before 8.

Got my act together and got all of the mail-in art loaded into the truck. Said goodbye to David Lee Anderson, who was leaving from the garage while I was loading up.

Went to the Post Office, mailed those packages.

Went to FedEx, mailed those.

Went to Office Depot and sent off the UPS boxes.

Went back to the hotel and loaded up the rest of the stuff, including the multiple coolers for the grass-fed beef I was scheduled to pick up in Burton. I then left the hotel premises for another year.

First stop was for gas. Next stop was at the Academy, right next to the gas station, for a big cooler. I had no confidence in the ability of my current complement to handle the 200lbs of beef I was scheduled to pick up.

And then onto the highway back home.

Knowing the lack of food was going to affect me, I tried to guess where I'd be around lunchtime. Chappell Hill was my guess, so I planned on hitting a little cafe on the freeway that I've been passing by for decades.

When I got there, it was a nice little diner. Good food, good prices, quick service.

From there, a stop in Burton for the beef (I would have had enough room without the new cooler), and then home.

Another Armadillocon successfully completed.

Armadillocon Sunday

Up for breakfast in the cafe. Into the Art Show by 9.

Handle the mad rush that is check out for all of the purchased art while handling the checkout of all of the artists and the unpurchased art. Laura does another fabulous job packing up all of the art for shipping.

One artist and one purchaser delay the proceedings until 2 pm.

We then proceed to dismantle the show and load all of the steel and pegborad on the carts by 4 pm. We get the carts loaded on the truck by 5. We manage to get to the storage facility and get stuff unloaded by 6:10 and then head off to dinner.

The County Line. Bar-b-q served family style. Everyone else had already arrived and been seated, so the art show dismantlers had to eat amongst ourselves. I think the seven of us managed to polish away more meat than the rest of the tables (35 people) combined.

Mmmmmmmmm. Cow.

Back to the hotel and accounting work for the art show. Do artist totals and take the control sheets to the front desk for copying. Get them back, slap them into the artist's boxes and do final prep for shipping in the morning.

Off to the Con Suite for some smof'ing and imbibing. Then off to bed.

Armadillocon Saturday

Up, again, at 7. Breakfast and then into the Art Show.

Supervise the end of silent bidding at 5pm. Organize the items going to auction, 13 in all. Organize the items that were bid upon, but not going to auction.

The auction. One piece generates enough interest that I start giving back massages to the bidders to encourage more bidding. I think pictures were taking. Negatives will be burned if I can acquire them.

Reopen the Art Show for art pick up and sales. Laura takes over to let me run get dinner at Fudd's.

Close the show down at 10 and I run off to the Con Suite for a brief visit and then to bed.

Armadillocon Thursday

I set the alarm for 4:45 am. I woke up at 4:43 and decided I could sleep another hour, so I reset the alarm.

Up at the appointed hour. I do the final loading of the truck. I'd done most of it the night before. The only stuff left was the art that would ride in the bed of the truck on the way to Austin, and the bag of clothes for the weekend.

With a quick stop at Shipley's, I was on my way.

Took the Beltway around, up to 290 and off in the direction of Austin. Traffic was a breeze and, when the decision point came, the timing was such that I decided make the detour to Taylor for kolaches for the weekend.

Onward to the hotel. They had my room ready, so I off-loaded everything into the room. It took me about 5 trips with my dolly.

Then on to various local errands.

Frist stop: Central Market for root beers for the weekend: Frostie, St. Arnold's, Hank's, and one other (maybe Weidman?). Not impressed with the one whose name I can't remember, but the others were quite nice. Frostie is my favorite, but I need to do a blind taste with the other two.

Next stop: Aikido of Austin. I was going to miss the sessions back home, so I thought I'd try to watch a session while in Austin. It was cool. They did jo work, which is not something we do in our classes.

Texas Store Fixtures. I bought some stuff for the slatwall in my woodworking shop: baskets and shelves and such.

Hung around the hotel a bit, calling some artists that I was trying to meet. then we started unloading the art show steel. That went quickly and by the time we were done, it was time to head off to dinner at Threadgill's.

I was blessed with the task of getting the Guest of Honor, John Scalzi, to the restaurant. I was given general directions and made it to the general area of the restaurant quickly. At that point, I knew not how to proceed. So, I asked for directions at a local tire store. The restaurant was just one block away at that point. We made it safely and drew a round of applause as we arrived.

After dinner was a trip down to see the Congress Street Bridge Bats. They decided to fly out from the bridge over the river instead of straight up into the air. Our viewing pleasure was reduced because of this decision of the plying mammals, but it was still neat.

Then on back to the convention hotel to set up the steel for the Art Show. We managed to finish around 11pm.

Off to the Con Suite for a brief break and then to bed.

Armadillocon Friday

Up at 7 am to start the day.

Off to the hotel cafe for breakfast. $18 for a buffet?!? Ouch! But, they've got a monopoly on convenient places to eat now. The local Owens restaurant closed and changed into a Chili's over the past year. Other restaurants require a drive, so it's not worth the hassle.

After breakfast, on to the Art Show to start hanging the art. That got completed around 2pm, with various artists showing up to hang their own art. Joe Haldeman showed up to hang his art, as well as John Picacio, and others.

We opened up the Art Show around 2, I think. Before the convention itself was officially open!

We stayed open until around 6 or so. Laura went out and some food from Enchiladas y Mas, I think. Good stuff.

We re-opened from 8 to 10 to be open during the "Meet the Pros" event. Alcohol is available during that event and it tends to loosen the wallets some.

At 10 pm we closed for the evening and I went off to the Con Suite for a brief visit and then to bed.

Volleyball 0-3

Pretty sad showing last week, but it was our first week as a team. Also, it's been 4 months since I last played.


Armadillocon prep

Final preparations are underway for Armadillocon. On my list of things left to do are:

Charge my phone
Load more CDs into iTunes and sync up the iPod
Organize the 3-ring binders
Email the artists whose artwork has arrived over the past few days
Put the hotel confirmation in my organizer
Put the 3-ring hole punch in the art show container
Get some more shipping tape for mailing packages back out to the artists
Locate another cooler or two for the trip back
Get a map to the butcher for on the trip back
Locate a supplier of Austex chili in Austin
Decide on go/no-go to Taylor on the way into Austin
Pack suitcase
Pack the art
Pack the camera

In the shop

Got in the shop for a few hours on Saturday.

I managed to get the backing plywood cut and attached to the cabinets. I then moved them into their assigned spots where they fit like they were supposed to.

Now, I need to finish the design, and build, the final cabinet section. Then I can attach them all together, level them, and work on face frames, doors and drawers.


I'm impressed with NBC's coverage this year. It's much improved. Far fewer puff pieces of War-and-Peace length. A greater variety of sports shown.

The sports I've seen so far:
Road Racing
Beach volleyball
Indoor volleyball

Some of the improvement is because I now have access to multiple stations on which they're being broadcast. I'm able to jump around if they start a puff piece I'm not interested in. But, they seem to be doing fewer of them. Probably because they have two channels devoted to just the puff pieces.

Weekend update

Friday: aikido

Saturday: Mow the lawn. Work in the shop on the cabinets. Aikido. Dinner out with a friend. Olympics in every spare minute.

Sunday: Olympics. Lunch out with the in-laws for m-i-l's birthday. Painting the living room. Cards with the in-laws.

Saturday Afternoon at the Dojo 8/9/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Richard, and Trey.

Ukemi: No air falls today.

The Walk: Not today.

Releases: With Trey. Worked on Nami no Waza. We spent about an hour working through these, making tweaks, Correcting incorrect progressions. Went well.


We then spent the last minutes of the session working on getting initial off-balances. For that, we chose Aigamae-ate. Over and over and over.

I also had Trey work on taking me around in a circle in case the initial off-balance does not feel right. I then exaggerated my steps while being led around in the circle to give him more time to see the body rise and body fall. It seems like a good tool to help with the timing for techniques.

Aftermath: Beat. Sweaty. Optimistic that my issue with initial off-balances is reduced.

Friday Night at the Dojo 8/8/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Kim, Trey, and Brad.

Ukemi: 1 air fall each side, I think. A slight ping on the left calf. It might have to do with how I'm being led out for that fall, I'm not certain.

The Walk: Went ok.

Releases: With Trey.


Trey and I worked together. I was uke for him for 1-10 of Ju Nana Han Kata.

He was then uke for me for the same.

Pretty much a disaster this evening. I could not get initial off-balances for the life of me. Trey had similar issues. Sensei got a little annoyed.

Aftermath: Tired. Worked up a good sweat.


In the shop

Been out in the shop the past two nights, sweating in the 95 degree heat. I managed to get the carcasses for the two sections of cabinets completed, mostly.

Still need to be done:

1/4" plywood on the back
face frames

I'm probably going to but the back on these two sections and then start and the last section of cabinet before doing the drawers and doors, etc. on all of the sections. It'll probably be a month or so before all of that gets done. I've got a bunch of weekend commitments coming up, so I won't have much shop time.


In the shop

I had some inspiration and some time, so I got out into the shop.

I lacked a little bit of restraint, though, and ended up making a mistake or two. I don't have to go out and buy more wood to correct those mistakes because I predicted I'd do something stupid. I bought enough wood beforehand to allow some room for mistakes.

My mistakes: thinking that I had not already cut two pieces. This caused a second mistake: cutting up a board that was already in final dimensions into sizes for the aforementioned two pieces.

So, tonight I have to cut two pieces 26 1/4" x 29 1/4". I've got a full sheet of plywood, ready and waiting.

Edouard, pt. 3

Edouard was the cause for me to work from home, for a whole day, for the first time. Not tremendously fun. K. was home, and it was always tempting to go help her do whatever she was doing.

I got started late and, therefore, finished late. But, I still had some hours to reset the yard to the way it was before the storm. I also had some time to work in the shop.

Ikkyu demonstration, part 3

Ikkyu demonstration, part 2


Ikkyu Demonstration, part 1

Edouard, pt. 2

Well, Edouard is a bit of a bust. Overnight he turned a bit north, so we did not get the dirty side. We have not received much of anything. In the 6 hours since the rain started, we've had 1.5" of rain. We've had a little wind, but not much.

I spent a couple of hours prepping the yard for the arrival and it wasn't necessary. And I'll have to spend the same amount, or more, un-prepping the yard

Still, with these things, it's better to be safe than sorry.


In the shop

Saturday, I finally got off my duff and finalized the design of two of the three remaining sets of cabinets in the shop. At least I've finalized the carcass dimensions and where the doors and drawers are going. I have not finalized the design of the drawer fronts or the doors.

Sunday, I spent 3 hours in the shop, sweating like a pig. I managed to get the major components cut to size. I got the one panel, that needed to be glued up, glued and clamped.

The next step will be to cut out the necessary notches and then the dadoes.


This tropical storm, likely to be a hurricane, is coming right up our drainage pipe. I don't expect it to be too much trouble, but we're storing loose items away.

Creme brulee

I've wanted to make creme brulee for a while, but have lacked some of the implements to make it easy: ramekins and a torch.

I finally "splurged" and purchased those items.

And I've attempted 3 recipes. 2 of which turned out ok. One turned out better.

The two that turned out ok were the first two I tried. I've learned that they need to be watched in the oven and not left to overcook. I like mine a little soft/liquid in the center, so I have to keep an eye on them. If you let them go, they tend to turn cake-like.

One of the other issue with the recipes is they all say to chill them after cooking. I don't like chilled creme brulee. I like it warm, and soft.

I took a chance on the last batch and did not chill them. I also took a chance and altered the recipe the first time I made it, which is something I normally avoid like the Black Plague. I did not change it much, but I did change it.

Below is the recipe as I prepared it.

1/2 cup plus 6 teaspoons sugar
6 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 cups whipping cream
2/3 cup unsweetened canned coconut milk*
2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
1/3 cup Rum

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place four 8-oz ramekins in large roasting pan. Whisk 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks and whole egg in large bowl to blend. Combine cream, coconut milk and coconut in heavy medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Whisk into yolk mixture, slowly, a little bit at a time. Pour custard into cups, dividing equally.

Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cups. Bake until custards are just set in center, about 27 minutes. Remove from water. Cool.

Arrange custard cups in a square baking pan. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon sugar evenly over each. Tilt the pan slightly, to make reaching each ramekin easier. Using a torch, heat the sugar until it browns and start to liquify.

Overheard in the car

"I want you to check out the hookers"

Inter-species cooperation

We were outside Thursday, doing some yard work. We noticed that Jack was getting very possessive of something. I walked over and took a look. What I saw was a recently born animal, about 4 inches long, with its eyes still closed. I attempted to get Jack away from it, but he grabbed it in his mouth and took off. I attempted to get him to spit it out, but he refused. In fact, he swallowed the poor animal, still squeaking.

A few minutes later, we found another, smaller, newborn. We managed to protect this one and get it out of the yard before Jack dealt with it, but I'm sure it did not make it.

We think Vlad, one of our cats, brought the newborn in from outside of the fenced area.

Jack did not seem to suffer from his large meal of protein.

Weekend update

Friday: aikido

Saturday: design work for the shop, aikido, dinner and shopping with friends

Sunday: in the shop working on cabinets, a sister's birthday celebration (dinner and an Agatha Christie play)

I kind of guessed who did it in the mystery, but not really.

Saturday Afternoon at the Dojo 8/02/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Richard, Trey, and Brad.

Ukemi: No air falls today.

The Walk: Went ok.

Releases: With Brad. Went well.


I worked with Brad on shomen-ate. It went ok.

I also server as fill-in uke for Trey when he was working on gyakugamaeate. He was having issue with Richard as uke and we wanted to make sure that Trey could get the technique. He nailed it on the first attempt with me.

Trey then served as my uke for a couple of attempts on Tenkai Kote-hineri and Kote-gaeshi. The first couple were a little rough, but the final one was good.

Aftermath: None of note.

Friday Night at the Dojo 8/01/08

Aikidokas: Tim, Kim (yay!), and Trey.

Ukemi: 1 air fall each side, I think. A slight ping on the left calf. It might have to do with how I'm being led out for that fall, I'm not certain.

The Walk: Went ok.

Releases: I don't remember.


We ran a Blum-line tonight with Trey and Kim as tori. 1-10 of Ju Nana Hon Kata, right side. Sensei Tim joined in as uke for the first 5. I then was uke twice for each tori for each technique.

We had issue with tori getting off-line. It finally resolved itself around Ude-hineri or so.

At the end of the evening, I got to throw Trey with Kote-gaeshi and Ude-hineri. Went ok.

Aftermath: Tired and likely to be sore. Beer for the evening. Ibu the next morning.