Sunday, June 30, 2013

Run.

It seems like getting myself on my feet and out the door becomes a chore every so often. It doesn't matter how many miles I've gone or how many races I've finished, I still end up in these funks.

They're silly funks, pointless.

There's no one saying I can't run. Just me.

There's no one telling me that I'm slow. Just me.

There's no one whispering that I don't belong. Just me.

After I ran the San Francisco Half Marathon, I was gun-ho about my next half in October. I was so pumped, I signed-up for a 3rd half in Denver, two weeks after the San Jose one. And yet.. two months after I hit my SF goal time almost exactly, I'm literally dragging my feet around, mopping about how I'm not a runner. What kind of mental flipflop is that?

I have a lot of excuses, do you want to hear them? They're all very good. Very convincing. They must be, if they've kept me off the streets for this long. (In my defense, one is legit – my tendon issue in my foot is back – but I'm not actively doing all I can to make that better so it is still an excuse.)

Rawr. Frustration. If I would just start, I know I would fall in love again.

Starting is the hard part. It always is. So many what-ifs.

Ugh.

Go

RUN.

Friday, June 28, 2013

I'm a Broccoli Lover..

Don't call the cops. I swear, it is me writing this post. I haven't been kidnapped and replaced with a malfunctioning clone. At least.. I don't think so...


Oh god, all of my hair's gone! And it's.. it's colored?.. What if I have been replaced?!


How do I figure out if I'm a robot clone? And better yet, do I care?... I seem to be quite happy to be me, clone or not. Hm, this will require more investigations. In the mean time, Broccoli! Yes, Broccoli! That wipes the worries of potentially being a clone away.

When I was a kid, I hated broccoli. Hated, hated, hated. My parents tried everything to get me to eat it – smothering it in cheese and sauces had no effect. I fought the disgusting rubber trees regardless of topping. Now that I'm older though, I think I may have solved the problem. Fresh broccoli, steam or grilled it amazing. None of that frozen and nuked crap. Saut√©ed with parmesan or baked with spinach, nom nom nom.

My latest experiments with broccoli has wielded delicious results.


This is a lazy dish, where I basically toss a head of broccoli florets in with some garbanzo beans and then top with parmesan. The general recipe that I follow can be found here.

For a more involved meal, I went with the Cauliflower and Broccoli Flan from Epicurious. Amazingly delicious, though quite a bit of work.


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Board Stiff with Eminent Domain

I wrap up my month long tirade on deck-building games this week with a look at Eminent Domain, a game with an interesting twist on breaking the sandbox mold.
 There doesn’t seem to be any particular strategy that works consistently better than the rest – the key to a particular role’s strength is completely determined by how many people go with that role as a key part of their gameplay strategy. This is huge! In other deck-builders there are obvious, perfect strategies for certain card sets – combos that once learned will forever be sought because they win you the game. Always. Eminent Domain’s group-think occurrence prevents this from happening. Roles have the potential to be as strong or as weak as the players as a majority chose them to be.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Board Stiff with Thunderstone; Deck-Building Part 3

Three weeks might be one too many for me when it comes to writing about a game type. Either that or I should try writing these things before 11pm on a Sunday.. Regardless, though, this week I push on and write about Thunderstone, a deck-building dungeon crawler that is as heavy as your heart.
This side tangent of fed-up exhausted ranting may lead you to the conclusion that I don’t likeThunderstone. That I don’t like a game where you need a finely executed plan and team to consistently take out the monsters present in the Dungeon over yonder. Instead, you get the team of adventurers that were rejected by DnD Academy and left to drown their sorrows in whatever podunk village you keep finding them in. That’s unfair of me, I know. It’s not their fault that you can’t bloody shuffle right.
Shuffle on over like you do and take a gander.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Crochet Pattern: Baby Owl Hat

I have a new niece!!! Her name is Emma Irene and she's pretty freaking cute, if I may say so. She's got dark brown hair like her mommy and dark (probably) hazel eyes like her mommy and she's also pretty chill, like her mommy. Her big sister isn't too sure of her yet (cause she takes after her daddy), but Miss Natalie is warming up to the idea of having a kid sister.


Over the last couple of years I've knit Natalie a few hats, all of which her parents have kept in preparation for their 2nd little one. Right now Natalie's favorite hat is an owl hat someone bought her for her first birthday. I decided it would be pretty adorable is Emma had a matching one for some cute family pictures, so I whipped up my own version. I introduce the Baby Owl Hat.


As always, I present this pattern to you for free with the understanding that it's mine. Mine, I tell you! Do not copy or sell this pattern, or the hats you make with it, without my permission. This pattern is for personal and charity use only. Kthx.

Techniques You'll Need:
- Magic Circle
- Chain (ch)
- Slip stitch (ss)
- Singe crochet (sc)
- Half-double crochet (hdc)
- Double crochet (dc)

- Crochet in Spirals & Rounds
- Increase
- Decrease
- Stitching

Extra Things You'll Need:
- Stitch marker
- Darning Needle

Baby Owl Hat
Yarn: Bernat Satin Solids in Fern (top color), Flamingo (bottom color), White (eyes); Bit of scrap yarn in black, orange, and another color for the flower
Gauge: Bernat Satin Solids : 15dc x 5 rows = 4 inch x 4 inch
Hook: US G (4.00mm)


Body:
My second niece, whom this was made for, has a rather large head, just like her big sister.  She's only a week old and there is a selection of newborn outfits that no longer fit her. I made the hat with a little bit of room for her to grow, so I'd say it's a potential 3-6 month hat... maybe a 2-4 month? Try to keep that in mind. I'll present the pattern the way I made it, feel free to make modifications for the other sizes, just keep in mind gauge.

The body is crocheted in the round, using the dc stitch.

With the top color yarn:
R1: Using the Magic Circle technique, sc 6 into the ring. Mark your last stitch.
R2: 2dc in each stitch around (12)
R3: *dc, 2dc, repeat around from * (18)
R4: *dc 2, 2dc, repeat around from * (24)
R5: *dc 3, 2dc, repeat around form * (30)
R6: *dc 4, 2dc, repeat around form * (36)
Cut the yarn, but don't bind-off.

Switch to bottom color yarn.

Now for the mindless bit.. dc in a spiral until the hat measures about 5" from the starting point of the hat – 3" from where you changed colors.

To add the ear flaps, lay the hat flat with the round's beginning a bit off center, to the left. The spot where you changed colors is going to be covered up by one of the eyes, so keep that in mind when positioning the hat. For my hat, I folded it so that the end of the round is 9 stitches from the edge.

Work around the hat once more with dc stitches, but don't do the complete round. Stop 3 stitches or so from the end of the round and then make the first earflap.

Ch 2 and turn.
Dc 10 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 9 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 8 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 7 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 6 across. Ch 2, turn.
Ch 1, hdc, dc, hdc, hdc, sc

You've made the first ear flap! Now you're going to add some trimming. Single crochet down the side of the earflap, continuing in the direction you're already facing. Once you get to the body of the hat, continue single crocheting across the front for 12 stitches. Now, time to make the second earflap.

Dc 12 across. Ch 2, turn.

Dc 10 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 9 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 8 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 7 across. Ch 2, turn.
Dc 6 across. Ch 2, turn.
Ch 1, hdc, hdc, dc, hdc, sc
Ch 1, turn.
Ss 5 and then start single crocheting down the side of the earflap. Continue around the back of the hat and up the other side of the first earflap. Cut yarn and bind off at the end of the first earflap. Then, attach yarn at the bottom of the un-edged side of the second earflap. Single crochet up the side, cut yarn and bind off at the end. You should now have a earflaped hat with a nice clean single crochet edge.


Owl Eyes
Make 2, with white:
R1: Using the Magic Circle technique, sc 6 into the ring. Mark your last stitch.
R2: 2dc in each stitch around (12)

Cut yarn, leaving a 8" tail and bind off.

Using black yarn, embroider lashes onto the eye. Use the picture for reference.

Once both eyes are made, make sure your starting end of white and the black ends from the lashes are secure and tucked behind them. Whipstitch the eyes into position using the photo for reference. Make sure you cover up the color change!

Owl Nose
Make 1, with orange:

Ch 2, turn and 2 sc in the 2nd chain from hook. Ch 1 and turn.
2sc in each stitch. Ch 1 and turn.
2sc, sc, 2sc.

Cut yarn leaving a 8" tail and bind off. Whipstitch nose on, centered between eyes, using photos as reference.

Owl Ears
Make 2 with top color.

Dc 6 into a magic circle
2dc around (12 stitches)
Dc around
Dc2tog around (6 stitches)
Hdc, sc, ss, tie off with an 8 inch tail.

Use the tail to whip stitch the ear into place, using photos as reference.

Flower
Make one, with 2 contrasting, "flowery" colors. (You don't need a lot, scraps should do.

With contrasting color, ch 2, 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook. John with ss to first sc. Cut yarn.
Attach main flower color.
[(ch 2, 3dc, ch2) into the same sc, ss to the next stitch.] Repeat for all 5 stitches. Cut yarn, leaving 8" tail.

Bind and tuck all ends of the flower and then using the long tail, whip stitch it onto the hat.

Flare
Cut 2 4" pieces of yarn from each white and your top and bottom colors. Do a simple loop knot at the tip of each ear with one of each color. Pull tight to make sure it's secure. 

Place on adorable baby and let the "AWwww"s begin.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Board Stiff with Deck Builders (Dominion & DC Deck-Building Game)

Apparently I'm still readjusting to my recent lack of a schedule.

Last week over at GrE I kicked off a series on deck-building games, starting with the new classic: Dominion.
Dominion, designed by Donald X. Vaccarino and published by Rio Grande Games, was the first card game on the market that introduced the concept of players building their decks during the play of a game, rather than separate from it. It is the diversion that coined the phrase “deck-building game” in the first place and can be blamed almost entirely for my addiction to this hobby.

Following that up, this week I took a look at one of my new favorite games, DC Deck-Building Game. What it lacks in good title, it makes up for with clean and simple play.
DC Deck-Building Game, henceforth, shall be named… (drum roll please) Superheros That Aren’t Owned By Marvel Deck-Building Game Because Marvel Already Came Out With One And DC Needed To As Well. Just rolls off the tongue. Game designers, I’m available for freelance title suggests anytime. 
Maybe I should start to talk about the game.