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Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Category: Life (page 1 of 127)

The Coronavirus Lockdown Blues

Forget all the things we were going to do, all there is now is what little we can do in the time and space we have.

The original plan, of course, was to get back to working on something to do with Blender 3D and the ducks. Then my computer started misbehaving, so I can’t trust it to do renders. Another plan was to get out and do more hiking. Then the stay-at-home order arrived (shortly after my employers issued a work-from-home order). And so on, and so on. At this point we’re simply glad that we stocked up on toilet paper before the hoarders took over the grocery stores.

I barely leave my room anymore. It’s where I work, has been for a couple of weeks now, and where I play, since listening to music and playing games and whatnot (such as my ailing machine permits) involves the computer that’s at a desk in my room. This is really adding insult to injury since I was stuck in my room back in February when I came down with a cold, then I was mostly stuck in my room during my birthday stay-cation.

Am I getting tired of these five walls? Oh yes, yes I am.

But the alternative is being reckless and getting myself sick, or worse, getting someone else sick. So here I remain, with a lovely view out my window of the apartment building across the parking lot.

I hope you’re all doing well, friends.

Two Loaves For The Price Of Two

Instead of focusing on three dimensional digital fakery, I decided on my recent vacation to spend some time focusing on three dimensional edible foodstuffs. That’s right, it was time to try my hand again at making fresh homemade bread. I used a different recipe (sorry, “formula”) from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, my guiding tome. Lesson learned from the first go-around: Don’t be so knead-y.

Here’s how that panned out.

Pictured: Measured ingredients for making a couple loaves of bread

Ingredients: Assemble!

I started at six thirty in the morning on the last day of my vacation, the day after the DST change no less, because I had a movie I wanted to see shortly after noon. A madman I may be, but I’ve always worked best to a deadline.

Last time, my inaugural breadmaking foray, I over-kneaded the dough and it was a bit dry besides, so the final product came out a bit on the dense side. I did not make that mistake again, though I overbalanced a bit and ended up with too sticky of dough for a while. Luckily when I added some flour to fix the consistency I didn’t go overboard.

Pictured: A bowl containing a blob of dough.

Arise, my doughy mass, arise!

One nice thing about this hobby is that a large percentage of the time spent making bread involves waiting for proofing (rising) stages to complete. This meant that I could read, goof off a bit, and take care of other chores.

Pictured, blurrily: Two loaves' worth of dough in their baking pans

One of the minor miracles of this project? I managed to get a nearly even split of the dough into two loaves.

That (somewhat blurry) photo above shows another of the problems with this attempt: The instructions call for spraying oil lightly atop the loaves, but all I had available was a silicone brush so there’s a fair bit more oil on those things than actually intended. Whoops.

Pictured: Two damned fine loaves of bread if I do say so myself, which I do.

Two plain loaves of boring white bread, but they’re MY plain loaves of boring white bread. I did that!

I can’t complain about the results, though. Not one bit.

Lessons learned from this go-around: Get an oil misting bottle instead of using a brush, and have a small amount of flour and water on hand during kneading in case things get too sticky or too dry, respectively. Other than that? All’s well that ends deliciously.

Rethink, regroup, redo

I had plans for the next Blender project. Unfortunately, I ran full-speed into a logistical wall: I can’t do what I wanted to do with the audio-based triggering of effects. Not at all. That setback basically means that I can’t at all proceed with one of the original ideas that got me into doing Blender in the first place.

After a couple weeks I finally came up with a loose game plan for the other project/idea so I’ve started poking at that. I lost that couple of weeks to just being frustrated and annoyed with myself and with the limitations of the technology I have on hand.

On the upside: I submitted my taxes and the refunds have already arrived. I spent part of the refund money on a new mattress, which is long overdue considering how long my old futon mattress has been in dire need of replacement.

At any rate, hopefully I’ll have more stuff to show off before much longer. There’s some scenery construction work to get done and at least one more iteration of the duck design before I can get the ball fully rolling.

A wonky 3D duck on some cheap wood flooring.

My next attempt will probably involve building the main body and head in one sculpting pass. Wish me luck.

So here’s hoping I don’t run into any other brick walls, eh?

January was a long year.

I meant to get a couple more posts out last month. Clearly that didn’t happen. I blame the stomach bug, the weird work stuff, the weather, and a solid week where I didn’t want to do much of anything at all of any kind.

On the upside, I did make a loaf of bread all on my own. I set a goal late last year of doing something about my interest in learning to make my own bread, and here we are:

My first loaf of bread

Letting it sit for an hour to cool was torture, let me tell you. I wanted to chow down IMMEDIATELY.

It turned out okay, albeit a bit dense because I accidentally did a bit more kneading than intended. Not bad for a first try, though. We had that thing devoured within 24 hours. For instance, it made a helluva grilled cheese sammich:

Grilled cheese sandwich made with first loaf of bread

Apologies for the blurry photo, I’m still a lousy photographer.

Seriously, that was the high point of the month. On the Blender side, I learned to make a snowflake and took notes on how to do things like animated fireworks and so on. There’s a project coming, I’m just not yet certain the shape and scope of it yet. News to follow once there is some.

I also got around to assembling the two Nanoblocks Pokémon kits gifted to me over the last year or so, a Vaporeon and an Eevee. Immediately afterward I insisted that nobody buy me any more Nanoblocks kits. There are simply too many small fiddly bits for my hands and eyesight to manage. Ugh.

Nanoblock Vaporeon

These Nanoblock builds are not even remotely sturdy, with some bits hanging on by one lone post. Ugh.

Other than that, I’m just keeping on keeping on. I have a book review and two music reviews to get out there; look for those in the relatively near future.

Welcome, 2020

The original point of this don’t-call-it-a-blog was to chronicle my life. Well that certainly hasn’t happened. And with my memory as fuzzy & useless as it is, there’s no way I can backfill what happened over the past year, let alone decade, in any useful fashion. I might add some bits & pieces of recent history as I go but I make no promises about this.

I have newly-repaired teeth (okay, gums), I acquired a new skill (disclaimer: actual skill yet to come, I’m still in the early stages), and I have some goals to work toward (including a possible revival of an old, old project). I don’t know if “hopeful” is the right word to use here. Hope isn’t the emotion I’m feeling. It’s more like… “fukkit, what else am I going to do with myself?”

Let’s see if that’s good enough.

The Month of Teeth

The most notable thing about October 2019 for me is the series of three (out of two scheduled) periodontal scaling appointments which have allowed me, for the first time in [redacted] years, to brush my teeth without fear of bloodshed. The appointments themselves were utterly miserable but I can’t deny the quality of the work or results.

I mean, everything else is deteriorating inside and around me, but hey, my teeth & gums are in better shape. That’s something, right?

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