Construction site by Yavapai College.
Monday, March 31, 2008
After staying home sick on Friday, and lounging around the house like a lazy bum for most of Saturday, DaNece and I decided to take a drive on Sunday.
We drove through Camp Verde through Payson, up to Holbrook and then home. No particular reason behind the drive, we just wanted to get out of the house and see a part of the state that neither of us had before. So we loaded up the dogs and headed off.
8 1/2 hours, 4 counties, and over 400 miles later we arrived back at home, safe and sound. Neither of us were in a real picture-taking kind of mood, so photo-stops were at a minimum. For the most part we just sat back and enjoyed the beautiful scenery of northern arizona. A few of the photos that I did snap:
The bridge over East Verde River:
Forest lakes. Formed by snow-melt into the depressions of the forest, these shallow pools of water were a real treat. And the weirdest sound was coming from some of the banks.... FROGS! I can't imagine being a frog and hanging out in near-freezing water all day, but they were there:
Once we hit the interstate again we got to drive by the Cholla Power Plant outside of Joseph City. The power plant's flue gas stacks dominated the skyline, as we stood in 40-50MPH winds taking pictures:
About an hour before reaching home, the sun gave up its position on the horizon, and darkness settled over the road:
Next time we go through this beautiful area I think we will be spending some time at the rim, but it was just a bit too cold and windy for it this weekend.
I will probably update this post when DaNece uploads all her pictures from the day. :)
Friday, March 28, 2008
Hey, I'm an apple!
You Are an Apple
You are strong, powerful, and even a bit stubborn at times.
You have enough strength to help those around you in trouble.
You are adventurous and charming. Many people are drawn to you.
You love life, and you enjoy traveling the world. You enjoy fine food, art, and culture.
People have accused you of being a snob, but that's not accurate.
You do enjoy the best things in life. Unlike snobs, you truly appreciate quality... not just pretend to.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
*Automotive Rant* - and blogspot is messing with my paragraph formatting... great!
This little light is a vast irritation. Sunday it came on, then went off. Came on again. Went off again.
So I get out my trusty diagnostics tool (thankfully on the older Toyota's all you needed was a paperclip) and discern the trouble code by reading the morse code of flashing dash lights... Code 71!
Go to the greatness that is the Internet and look up the code to find that it is my EGR system. So I unplug and replug the connector to the EGR system, I notice that there is some bare wire showing (filing this information as a possibility of the problem). I disconnect the neg. battery cable for a few minutes to clear the code, and then fire up the truck. HEY the light is gone! Hooray!
Two days later it turns back on.... So now the list of things running through my head are: tank of bad gas (the whole things started a few hours after filling up), bad temperature sensor wire (as observed earlier), EGR valve stuck open, or bad ECU.
For now I have disabled the EGR valve (by simply blocking off some vacuum tubes with screws), which has definitely increased the performance of the truck (leading me to believe that the entire valve is bad). Of course this doesn't make the check engine light go off, since the temperature sensor has nothing to do with the actual operation of the EGR valve.
So if the light continues to stay on after my next fill-up, I will be shoving a resistor into the plug to at least get the light off, and then order the 2 parts necessary to fix the system, at a price of over $200.
Of course, I could leave the system jimmy-rigged with a resistor and plugged hoses, but that may cause a problem with engine temperature in an engine that is already known for having heat-related head gasket issues. Plus it's bad for the environment...
Sometimes I love working on my truck, but this is not one of those times.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
And as it turns out, like it does in small towns like Prescott, Katie is the mother of a guy who is very good friends with my sister, and who we have been going to school with since pre-school. Just another thing I love about little-town Arizona!
Well it is that time of the year when our allergies fire up, we introduce harmful cleaning chemicals into our systems, and start destroying our skin with UV rays!
Ain't it grand?
Okay, so all cynicism aside, spring is here. And as much as I do enjoy the cold, I am ready for a little desert heat.
Around town all the signs are there that the season is changing. The tourists are downtown en mass, taking pictures with their DSLR cameras set to 'auto' mode (what a waste of money)...
And of course, all the flowers and trees are blooming (hence the allergies) releasing their nice little scents and colors for the world to see.
Okay, there. My obligatory spring post is now done, and hopefully I can limit the number of pictures of all the pretty little flowers. :)
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Yesterday was Easter, which I always find to be a bit of a weird holiday. It is a Christian Holiday celebrating Christ's resurrection. It is also a Pagan holiday, celebrating Goddess Eostre. The thing that strikes me as weird is not the dichotomy of the holiday, but the day on which it is celebrated. Based on a lunar calendar (instead of our solar calendar), sometimes this holiday just creeps up on you out of nowhere.
And so it was for us this year. Being non-religious (christian, pagan, or otherwise), we don't really do much for the holiday. Movies during the day, and dinner at night (well when else would we have it?) We invited mom over for dinner, but she had other plans, so it was just the two of us.
Of course throughout my picture taking process, I was totally un-aware of the fact that I hadn't switched on the macro setting on my camera, so almost all of my pictures were blurry! Great!
Here is what didn't turn out too blurry:
Dinner which wasn't anything crazy. Just a plain ham with pineapple and a home-made brown sugar glaze (brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, salt, and water), some scallops with wine sauce (white wine, garlic, onion, rosemary, basil, and a little flour to thicken), mashed potatoes and bread:
Scallops, seasoned and ready to cook. Not something that I have ever cooked, and the only time I have ever eaten it was at a sushi restaurant. Safeway just randomly had them fresh, so I picked up a few to try out. Turned out pretty good I think!:
The dogs, waiting for treats at the edge of the kitchen:
My mise en place. Butter, brown sugar glaze, onions, basil, rosemary, garlic, and wine:
Ahhhh... perfect holiday.
Oddly enough, an old co-worker (from Best Buy) saw this photo on flickr and it turns out that he works for KYCA, and will be using one or two of my images on their website in the future. It sure is a small town!
On weekends DaNece and I generally stop into one of two places for breakfast, Cuppers or Pangaea Bakery. And both have excellent quiches. 2 weeks ago we sampled the Turkey and Cranberry quiche at cuppers, and were both very impressed (yes, contrary to popular belief, real men DO like quiche!)
Saturday night rolled around, and we thought that we would try our hand and re-creating this delicious dish.
- 2 frozen pie shells (you can make fresh if you are feeling frisky)
- 1/2 lb Ground turkey (or lump meat if you have it, but our store doesn't sell it)
- 3-4 white mushrooms sliced(optional)
- 2 pints of half & half
- 6 eggs
- LOTS of cheese, probably about 3-4 cups (we used parmesean, asiago, and chedder)
- about 1 cup of craisins
- 2 large cloves garlic - minced
- 3 or 4 minced basil leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary - minced
How to make it:
- pre-heat the oven to 375 and pre-bake the shells for 10-15 minutes (this prevents them from getting too mushy at the end).
- season turkey with some salt and pepper, then brown in a pan
- Place all the eggs, half & half, garlic, basil, rosemary into a bowl and whip together
- add a cup or two of cheese and about 3/4 of the craisins
- split turkey, and place in the bottom of the two pie shells
- top turkey with mushrooms if you are adding them
- pour eggy, cheesy, herby mixture on top of the meat. Should just about fill the pie shell
- sprinkle the remaining craisins and 1/2 cup of the cheese to the top (still reserving some cheese for later)
- Put into a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes
- Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and cook for another 15-20 minutes until done (firm)
Now grab a drink, and chow down on this manly quiche!
Friday, March 21, 2008
Sometimes it strikes me. Walking around town often means seeing some very random things.
Things like a dog sticking its head out the window of a parked car and howling. Looking for its owner, no doubt. A quick pat on the head quiets him down for a little while, but before I reach the end of the block I hear him crying again:
Or how about stumbling upon the Cardiovascular Fitness Guide exercise area behind the VA hostpital? I wonder if I need a little help with the ol' heart?:
And then yesterday I saw a bunch of glued puzzles that had been discarded into an alley. Somebody went to the trouble of putting them together, and then decided they were no longer needed:
Plus if you need large volumes of water, I know where to go; the Automatic Water Salesman of course! Where 25 cents will still get you 100 gallons of H2O!:
And sometimes things just make me laugh, like signs telling you that there is brain-melting radio waves in the area. Too bad you have to be within 5 feet of the massive transmitting tower before you can read the sign telling you to be wary:
I'm not sure why I enjoy these little random things, but they are what make me want to get out and SEE the city I live in with my own two eyes. Because nobody else will see the same things that I will, and nobody else will think they are as funny as I do. :)
With the weather currently as nice as it is here (high 60s), I can't help but opt for grilling dinner. Not only does it give that nice flamey taste (you all know what I mean) to the meat, but I can cook a lot of things on the grill and not dirty too many dishes.
For example, dinner last night:
The only thing that didn't get cooked on the little magical box outside the back door was the rice.
Nothing terribly fancy, just a quick meal of chicken slathered in barbecue sauce, green beans (with butter and garlic, wrapped up in tin-foil), zatarains rice with a bit of sour cream, and some delicious roasted garlic bread from the Pangaea Bakery.
Simple yet effective. The green beans were a little undercooked, but I still managed to eat every last one of mine. MMmmmm
Sitting at work feeling a little under the weather (possibly that god-forsaken flu that EVERYBODY else seems to have had, and which my roomate is just now recovering from...)
Anywho, here is a sign that I spied on a walk about town yesterday. At least they were honest. :)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Okay, generally I'm not the type of guy to go all ga-ga over animal experimentation.
That just don't seem right....
DaNece says that I don't know how to make a 'simple' dinner. Personally, I think that this was a very simple dinner, but maybe that's just me?
Some angel hair pasta with a meatsauce.
What you need:
1/4 lb sweet italian sausage
1/4 lb ground beef
1 jar pasta sauce (I used Classico)
1/2 of a zucchini
various other spices
*if you like thinner sauces, get a can or two of tomato sauce*
- get a pot of water boiling and pre-heat a pan
- mince up a few cloves of garlic, some fresh basil, and some rosemary and throw in a medium sized bowl
- slice your zucchini, portabello, and shallot and place in separate dish
- grind some black pepper and throw it in the bowl, add some oregano, thyme, cayenne, and whatever other spices toot your horn
- throw your meat in the bowl and mix it up
- brown the meat in the pre-heated pan
- once brown, drain the grease however you care to (I just title the pan and soak it up with some paper towels, but I'm sure there are better ways out there)
- then throw in your jar of pasta sauce (and tomato sauce if you want like thin sauces), shallot, mushroom, and zucchini
- toss most of the cheese in there as well, reserving some for bread and garnish.
- cook sauce over medium or medium low, stirring every few minutes
- cook your pasta when the water is boiling. If you need instructions: read the box.
- put some butter and cheese on the bread and throw it under the broiler until cheese is melted and ideally starting to brown.
Now just throw some pasta on a plate, cover with sauce, throw a dash of cheese on top, and add bread.
What is so un-simple about that?? :) I must be crazy.
I have been trying to get this picture for almost 2 months. These horses are (very) intermittently found standing around a watering trough on my way home from work. In the 2 months I have been driving by looking for them, they have been there exactly 3 times.
Of course, 2 of those days just happened to be days that I managed to forget my camera at home...
Last night was the third time, and finally I got to snap a few pics of them. They are not too fond of humans, so no close-ups of them or anything, but I was pretty happy with the two shots I did get.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
It's fun to watch Lola explore the new world that she finds herself in. Something as simple as a chuckit is an unknown concept to her, and one that scared her initially. Now she happily chases her brother as he chases the ball.
She has been adjusting VERY well and very quickly to life in our household. We have now had two nights of no peeing in the house (though we have yet to go a full day without an accident), and last night we even got to sleep for 7 hours before she woke us up.
She has a blast using Scrappy as an oversized chew toy, and he seems happy to oblige her with some friendly wrestling. When mom came over last night Lola stayed in sight, no longer feeling the need to cower under the kitchen table.
Tonight should see us taking our first walk to state land with her, and hopefully this weekend a short hike with puppy in tow.
Compared to Scrappy she is learning things much faster (probably in large part because she emulates him), and is much more mellow. Ten minutes of trouncing around the house with Scrappy is enough to leave her stretched out on the floor snoring away for thirty minutes.
It's that time of the year. The sun is out later, and the weather is warmer. A perfect time to fire up the grill!
Hoping and praying that I was still on good terms with my grill, I turned the propane nob, twisted the burner knobs, and lit a match. Sweet sweet fiery goodness ensued.
It turns out that my grill not only remembers me, but has been longing for a little time alone with me. I didn't have a lot of time to dedicate to her, but the time we did have was good. The aromatic smell of herb covered steaks cooking, the sizzling sound of protein introduced to flame, the duo-tone of sear marks and cooked meat. Yeah, I'm glad it's grilling season again.
The steak was complimented by some roasted garlic butter, some corn on the cob, and some herby-peppery mashed potatoes.
A little taste of the season to come. :)
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
I like typography. I especially like it when creative people use typography in videos to accentuate dialogue. This is called kinetic typography.
The following are the ones that caught my attention. A bit of an overload maybe, but all good in their own right. :)
Abbot and Costello:
Pulp Fiction again (different part):
V for Vendetta (honestly, one of my favorite lines in a movie):
This pic is getting a lot of views on my Flickr Photostream. I'm not sure why, as I don't think it is that great of a photo, but oh well.
A look down a dark water drainage tunnel. 15 sec. exposure with no tripod (hence the blurriness), illuminated with small headlamp:
Boston Dynamics Dog:
built with all sorts of gyroscopic sensors, and more circuitry than you can shake a stick at, this little guy keeps himself upright through everything they throw at him, including ice and piles of bricks:
Herbal Elements for men:
Funny because it's true.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Okay so it has been a while since my last batch of local restaurant reviews, and some changes have occurred.
- For one Biff's Bagels, in what is now the Old Firehouse Plaza, has closed. It was inevitable, but it sucks. They were the only decent bagel place in the area (in my opinion).
- Pangaea Bakery, which I love, is expanding into part of the space that Biff's used to occupy. Theoretically they opened it up today, though I haven't stopped by yet to check it out.... yet.
There are also some additions:
- Maya's Mexican Restaurant (S. Montezuma St): Currently my favorite mexican restaurant. The best Carnitas I've had, though they are check or cash only. One of those dives that you fall in love with. Don't go if you are the type who is worried about spotless restaurants.
- Garcia's Market Restaurant (W. Goodwin St): Granny J blogged about this place, and I have to say that I enjoyed it. Again, it isn't a clean-freak type of restaurant, but it is right tasty!! Awesome Carne Asada, and a very friendly staff.
- Firehouse Kitchen (Goodwin st): A new restaurant located in the Old Firehouse Plaza. Small capacity, and you have to go up a flight of stairs outside to use the restroom (not the best layed out restaurant). The food is awesome however. They are now open for lunch, which is relatively well priced (~$10 a plate). Their dinner is also phenomenal, though more expensive at about $20 a plate. I guess you could call it Modern American food, with the gambit running from Crab Cakes to BBQ Beef Brisket, Hamburgers, Mac&Cheese, etc. My favorite waiter in town (Ralph) is working here, and they also just opened an appetizer and martini bar upstairs with live piano every night.
- Fujiyama's (Frontier Village): A Japanese restaurant. Though not quite as good as Esoji (downtown) they have a pretty decent sushi menu, and have VERY regular hours (unlike Esoji). Price is decent for sushi, though they don't have some items that you might like (Uni is one thing that they never seem to have). The wait staff is not the happiest bunch of folks, but if you are looking for a quick fix, it will do.
- Prescott Pantry (Iron Springs Rd): A great place that has been around for a long time. Sandwiches and soups are great here. A little pricey for what you get, but darn tasty, with a very helpful staff.
- Hawaiian Grille (W. Sheldon Street by PC): I've only been in here once, but I was very impressed with the food. It is a tiny restaurant (I believe there were only 6 or 7 tables), and the food was on the pricey side ($34 for two of us), but the tastes were killer! I keep meaning to go back, but never seem to be able to make it over there.
- Thai House Cafe (Corner of Cortez and Sheldon): I love this place! 1/2 of the staff speaks dodgy english, but they always have a smile on their faces and are happy to help. They food is great, and if you like spicy just let them know and they can ramp it up for ya. Personally, I am not a spicy person and they accommodate this admirably. If Pete says you are getting Campbell's soup, watch your bill. He tries to sneak a few thousand dollars on there for Campbell's Soup.....
That's all I got in me right now. Any of you guys have recommendations? What about for Prescott Valley? I'm not too familiar with the eating scene out there.
Today the mailman brought me yet another package! Three Invisible Shields for the cameras in my house. I started looking around for screen protectors after noticing that the screen on my Canon SD800is was getting a little scuffed up with normal wear and tear. Something I definitely wanted to avoid on the new G9.
The site shows lots of promotional videos talking about how this film was designed for the military, is super strong... blah blah blah. I'm a sucker though, and promotional videos always make me want to buy something, which is why I'm not allowed to have a credit card handy during infomercials. Lots of people were saying that this Invisible Shield was the stuff to go for though, so I figured I would give them a try.
Normal price for camera screen protectors is about $12, but through the magic of the internet I managed to find them for half of that, so I ordered three. One for the G9, one for DaNece's Olympus E-500, and one for the Canon SD-800. With shipping (because I wanted it faster than their 'free shipping') I got all three for $25.
Check out one of the linked reviews for in depth info on installation. Basically you apply it just like window tint, which means that I now have my G9 all shielded up in under 5 minutes. Super easy, and doesn't have much effect on the view through the LCD (anytime you put something shiny on an LCD you will see a reflection at some angle, but it isn't much worse than what I was getting without it.)
Of course nothing makes me feel like a sucker more than reading the first line in the packaging: "The best investment you will never see!"
Hopefully it is as good as everybody is saying it is. :) I'm sure there will be a long-term review of it down the road.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Well it is cold and windy here. Our nice 70 degree weather has soured to a projected high of 38 in Chino Valley today.... which leaves me in front of my computer on a weekend, something that doesn't happen too often.
So why not post a weekend picture of the day?
A look up to street level:
Saturday, March 15, 2008
DaNece got a special birthday present today. We stopped by the humane society and found the perfect little companion for Scrappy. We are calling her Lola, and she is a 4 month old Queensland heeler mix. Her and Scrappy are a lot alike. Her original home was also abusive, so she is pretty skittish just like Scrappy was when he arrived on our doorstep. After only 1/2 a day with us she has already started to come out of her shell, and is currently chasing Scrappy around vying for a tennis ball which barely fits in her mouth.
Since they are the same breed they look a lot alike as well:
Lola on the left, Scrappy on the right.
She is primarily black with white on her underside, compared to scrappy's polka-dot pattern all over.
Welcome to the family Lola! :)
Friday, March 14, 2008
Nothing fancy, and not the type of thing that I even remember a week later. So why post about it today?
Simply put: the bread. Take some basic rolls from safeway, add with some amazing compound butter and you get a hunk of bread that you will remember a week later.
So what is the magic to the butter? Subtlety! First I roasted a head of garlic, then I got the butter (one small stick) soft in the microwave. While waiting on the garlic I tossed a small amount of pepper, generic 'italian seasoning' , some basil, some rosemary, and a squirt of lemon juice into the butter. Once the garlic was done, I minced up about 5 cloves and folded it into the butter, then set the whole shebang into the fridge to set for a few minutes.
Spread on a roll, throw under the broiler for just a minute or two, and bada-bing! Magic Tasty Bread!
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Today's lunch hour found me wandering around Prescott once again. Some items of interest:
These little flowers (don't know the name) have started blooming on the side of the street:
A colorful religious statuette on a porch down N. Virginia St.:
And then I stumbled on something I had never seen before, which is kind of amazing since I spent 4 years at this college, the Sculpture Garden.
A tin lizard (I think):
A dry fountain made from something green (I'm guessing it's copper?) I bet it is great when it is running:
Some wind catchers:
Some skinny statues that (for some reason) remind me of the ones my grandpa used to make (which don't look anything like this):
And a big shiny metal thing!:
Not too shabby for an hour's worth of time. :)
The rest of the photos are bundled into the Prescott Walking Photoset.