Thursday, February 28, 2013

I'm Knitting Still, I Swear

I know it doesn't look like it, with all the hummus and snow and board game posts.. but I do still knit. Right now I'm working on an Array for myself (which I've named Doubly Linked List, for all those CS nerds out there). It's taking as long as all the comments say it will, so I'm taking a more leisurely pace with it.

I finished this Boneyard Shawl a few weeks ago for my bestie Katsu.

I also have Melvin the Misunderstood Monster forever open in my browser, with the hopes that one day I'll make him.

On a more exciting note, I have sketched many a design plans. Most the designs I sketch out are just proof of concepts, to see if I can even do it, but some get made.

I'm really looking forward to making some monster hats for my little monster, but they might not materialize this winter. We'll see!

As the spring approaches, and my second niece, I'll likely start whipping up some new toys. Maybe we'll see my first non-hat or scarf pattern. Wouldn't that be nice?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Board Stiff with Star Trek Catan

This week I take a intersteller approach to gaming over at and play Star Trek Catan.
The real difference between this version of Catan and the original game is in the Development deck. The Development deck for Star Trek Catan consists of only two types of cards: Victory Points and Star Fleet Intervenes cards. The Victory Point cards are self explanatory. The Star Fleet Intervenes cards are the Star Trek equivalent of the Knights card from the base game, allowing you to move the Klingon Bird of Prey either before or during your turn. All the other cards you’d normally find in the Development deck have been pulled out and their many actions assigned to Character Cards.
Head over to take a trip that's out of this world.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Board Stiff with Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small

I took a break from chasing powder this weekend to scribble down an article for about Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small.
In Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, the goal is to develop your small, 6 acre property into a profitable farm by the end of eight rounds. Each round you and your opponent take turns placing your three workers on available actions on the center board. Each spot on the board can only be taken by one worker, and grants a unique action to the worker’s player for that turn. These actions may do things like give the player basic resources, grant them new livestock, allow them to build a new building, expand their property, or build fences to contain their animals.
Head over yonder to take a gander.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Homemade Hummus #3 & #4

I made hummus again this weekend (surprise, surprise) and it was quickly consumed by Monday morning. I was going to take a picture of it and blog about the recipe but I ate before I remembered I shouldn't just yet.

It was red, if that helps, and was made of this:
- 1 can garbonzo beans, drained (drain the water into a measuring cup!)
- 1/2 roasted red pepper
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 1 heaping tsp crushed garlic (or 2-3 minced cloves)
- 1 generous tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt (then to taste)
- 1 tbsp lemon juice

I'm not an "omg must have" fan of red pepper, but it's a popular flavor and I will admit this hummus was delicious. It wasn't my favorite flavor to date, though, and so Sunday night I made another batch, with this inside of it:

- 1 can garbonzo beans, drained (drain the water into a measuring cup!)
- splash of water from garbonzo bean can
- 1.5 tbsp olive oil
- 1/4 cup Tahini
- 2 tsp crushed garlic (or ~4 minced cloves)
- 1.5 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

Instead of using water to cut this batch, I used lemon juice. Much better. Warmed some pita bread and this batch was gone!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Board Stiff with Drunk Quest

This week over on, I get drunk with a little help from a game called Drunk Quest.
In Drunk Quest, you defeat Monsters by taking drinks. (Sober Pro tip: Not shots, drinks. Like sips. Otherwise you’ll be dead both in game and out.) Other players can add (or if they’re nice, subtract) the number of drinks you have to take to defeat a Monster. They can also do completely asshole things like reduce the number of levels or treasures the Monster earns you, or just flat out steal your Monster for themselves. I ain’t going to lie, this may have happened to me. Once. Or twice.
Head over to keep reading my drunken ramblings and review of this beautiful game.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My Coffee Mug

I have four coffee cups on my desk, and three are holding nothing but dust. The 4th mug is constantly in a state somewhere between empty or full with a liquid of some sort inside. Usually this liquid is coffee, but sometimes it's tea. But mostly it's coffee.

I bought this mug at Target in 2008, when the "Back to School" sales were clearance-ing off all the things that were left. I shouldn't say I "bought" this mug. I'm pretty sure my mom bought it for me, when she helped me move from Colorado to California that September. I had lived away from her before, several times in fact, and once on the other side of the globe, but this was the first time I was moving without a return date.

This post isn't about that, though. This is about my mug.

It's a rather large coffee mug, something you can easily fit a bowl of soup or cup of instant ramen into. It has a nice big handle and I can easily cup it in both hands to absorb any warmth it's contents might give off. The plain white outside of my mug is covered in what can only be described as paint splatterings, the colors a mix of my favorites.

A background of a dark navy blue, hints of brown peaking out from one edge. Then, increasingly brighter globs of blue until you have bits of summer sky on top of the midnight blues. The real thing that makes me love this mug, though, is the single blob of bright orange right in the middle of all this blue. It matches the inside of the mug, which is entirely orange, and is most definitely my favorite color.

I'm not going to post any pictures of it, that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.

This mug has moved with me from my first real adult job to my second, real adult job. It stands out in the breakroom, a splash of chaos in the dishwasher tray, tucked in among the starch standard white of the company provided coffee mugs.

I hope I always have this mug.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I'm Board Stiff with Ticket to Ride

As I mentioned last week, my board game reviews/posts are moving over to! They'll be appearing on Mondays, bright and early, under the column title of "Board Stiff."

Yesterday saw the drop of my first column there, where I take a deeper dive into Ticket to Ride to try and introduce all the video gamers over there how to get down with the analog gaming.

Here's a blurb from that lovely post to tempt you into heading over and checking it out!
Adding more players to the game (up to 5 in the original) opens up double routes that two players can occupy simultaneously, cycles the deck more quickly, and makes it harder to complete your tickets. There’s a higher chance that the cards you need get picked up by another player, or the routes you want get claimed by that asshole you were dating at the start of all this.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

To Ski, or to Snowboard. That is the Question.

A lot of my friends in California didn't have the privilege to grow up with snow sports. When they discover that I did have that kind of childhood, one of the first questions they always ask is:

"Which is easier to do, skiing or snowboarding?"

As someone who grew up skiing and has since picked up snowboarding, I feel like the only real answer to this question is: Depends on who's learning.

Really, both sports have their fair share of challenges. They both use a varying set of leg muscles, a decent amount of core strength, and they both require good balance. Each have their own learning curves and they each have something unique to bring to the table. I find that people are generally more comfortable with one or the other, regardless of how long they've been doing either.

For example, I learned to ski when I was about 8 years old. My brother and I were both enrolled in two half-day ski lessons and by the end of the second lesson, I was peeling down blues while my brother grumbled down greens. (If you didn't know, slopes are rated for difficulty by colors and shapes: green circles for Beginner, blue squares for Intermediate, and black diamonds for advanced. Double black diamonds are Expert.) My brother switched to snowboarding shortly there after and took to it as quickly as I did to skiing.

It wasn't until last season when all my California friends were learning how to snowboard did I take any real interest in snowboarding myself. On most days I still would prefer to strap on my skis and blitz down a hill at lightspeed, but occasionally I can see the appeal of boarding.

Do you mind falling?
If the answer to that question is yes, then skiing is probably your sport. With skiing, each foot is attached to it's own ski and thus, can more readily be used for balance and maneuvering. A skier also has a pole in each hand, which can also help. Once a skier becomes proficient, minor accidental falls are uncommon. When falls do occur at more advanced levels, however, they're typically a bit more harsh than on a snowboard, and at least a bit more annoying. Skis are designed to pop-off the boot, and collecting them once you've fallen down the hill 10 yards can be frustrating.

On a snowboard, both feet are strapped to a single board, making balance and maneuvering a bit more difficult. Minor falls are more common, even for experts, and boarders quickly learn how to "roll" with the tumble to immediately get upright and keep moving. Boarders also find themselves sitting on the hill quiet a bit, either to strap in or out of their board, or just to take a rest. Upper body strength comes into play more with snowboarding, as getting off the slope after a rest with your feet strapped to a board isn't the most natural movement. Being able to sit comfortably on the hill is a nice perk of snowboarding, though, as a skier can't really get as comfortable of a position perched sideways on the slope.

Do you like to skateboard? Surf? Longboard? Go sideways very quickly down a mountain?
If the answer to any of those questions is yes, you might want to try snowboarding. This might seem obvious but one of the things that is the most uncomfortable for me when snowboarding is going down the hill sideways. Growing up, I much rather have sat on the skateboard than actually skateboard correctly when going down a hill. Being parallel with the slope is definitely something that I don't find natural, but if you do, snowboarding might be your sport.

If you're like me and you like to face the world head on, skiing might be more your speed.

Do you feel like you have better balance going right to left? Or front to back?
When you start to ski or snowboard, you weave your way across the hill, drawing wide S-curves. As your skill and comfort with either sport progress, you start to narrow your S until it barely looks like an S at all, and more like a wavy l. You control your turns by primarily shifting your weight to ride the edges of your given equipment. Which sport you choose depends which directions you're shifting.

With skiing, you control your turns by shifting your weight from right to left, to dig in either your right or left edges. The skis help you maintain your balance in the forward and backwards direction, allowing you to focus mostly on the left to right motions. You hold your edges by riding on either the right or left sides of your feet.

On a snowboard, your balance is reversed. You control your turns by leaning either forward or backwards, riding on either the balls or heels of feet. Your board helps with your right to left balance and you focus mostly on putting weight on your toe or heel edge.

I know that this is a lot of text and I've not given you a clear answer, but I hope I've helped give you an idea on the key differences of each sport. I genuinely feel that which is easier to learn depends entirely on the person doing the learning. Some people are more comfortable with skiing over snowboarding, and vice-versa. If you're really not sure and you've got the time, I'd suggest taking a half-day lesson in both and going from there.

Either way, just get out there and enjoy the snow.