Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Long time no post

So its been a good long while since I've posted. Yeah, yeah, I know a little bit of the sparkle has been missing from each of your lives without my rapier wit making your day every time I posted. Well, I've decided to get back in the blogging game. A bit. Well, we'll see. For sure this week, because Friday is Star Wars day, and I need to make sure you are all ready to see the awesomeness that is going to be my cupcakes this year. You probably remember the Darth Vader cupcakes of 2010 and the Princess Leia cupcakes of 2011. These ones are going to be of comparable awesomeness. Just you wait.

Right now I'm totally multi-tasking. I'm blogging and watching Grey's Anatomy. Why did no one tell me about this show sooner!? I'm totally hooked. My roommates were watching the current season, and it looked interesting. Then I found out that all of the seasons but the most recent one were on Netflix. The rest is totally history. I've been multi-tasking all throughout my TV watching, so I have lots of cool things to show you. A Death Star quilt, blocks from the Hobbit quilt-along, and more! I'll get around to writing posts about each of these awesome things eventually, so you can partake in the awesomeness.

In the mean time, I thought I'd share a bit about why I've dropped off a bit. There are a lot of reasons but the main one is that I've started suffering from depression as about a year ago. Now, don't worry too much... my health is good and my roommates are awesome. One of my roommates has been through a whole mess of depression-related stuff, so she's helped talk me through a bunch of things, and directed me to a great doctor. He started me on Zoloft, and I think that has helped some. True, it makes me more tired, and I gained 20 pounds the first few months after I started taking it, but I consider the side effects worth it if it helps my brain be less wonky. I've also decided to try therapy. I have an appointment this week. I'll let you know what I think. I'm pretty sure that having someone whose job it is to listen to me vent is going to be great.

I do have to say that I really really really appreciate the several people out there that have been so open about their own journey with depression. They were useful to me, so I thought I'd share them with you.

Allie at Hyperbole and a Half wrote a post called "Adventures in Depression." This pretty accurately describes how I feel sometimes. I don't really have a reason to be depressed, but I can't make myself do what I used to do. It's a struggle to get out of bed some days. And when I do, sometimes I just sit at work like a zombie, unable to motivate myself to do any actual work. And then I feel guilty about not actually doing my job. And the guilt makes me more depressed. And then I just cycle down the drain. This isn't consistent, but this kind of thing isn't uncommon in my life these days. Anyways, thanks to Allie for sharing this and making me feel like less of a worthless freak.

One of my favorite movie critics, Eric D. Snider, used to write a column for the Daily Universe at BYU called Snide Remarks. I first fell in like with his humor my freshman year way back in 1998. Did I mention that he was one of the founding members of the Garren's comedy troupe? Yeah. This guy is pretty funny. And he's the big brother (well, older brother) of one of my most favorite-ist home teachers of all time. So this guy kinda feels like family. You can read his columns from the beginning here, but the one that is really relevant to this situation he called "the Great Depression." My depression isn't to the level that his is, but I really relate with many of the things that he said. Thanks to Eric for sharing this and making me feel like less of a worthless freak.

I discovered Jenny Lawson, also known as The Bloggess. As of this month, she's a New York Times Bestselling Authoress. Fair warning, though... she swears like a sailor and is not shy about saying exactly what is on her mind. I bought her book, and totally loved it. I even got a signed book plaque by being one of the first few thousand pre-orders of the book. I connect with a lot of what she says, but I wouldn't recommend her particular way of viewing the world to all of you. Some of you, yes, but not all of you. If you read her stuff, be prepared for a lot of profanity and fairly twisted stuff. Like squirrel carcass hand puppets. And her stuff is sometimes somewhat offensive. Depending on how easily offended you are. Anyways... she is very open about her struggles with depression and social anxiety, etc. She has written  several posts about her struggles, but her most recent post about depression is actually a video called "Depression Lies."  Thanks to Jenny for sharing this and making me feel like less of a worthless freak.

I'm not sharing this so you will worry about me. I know that the handful of people that actually read this blog are all people that love me and care about me deeply. I don't want you to worry. I'm in a safe place, physically, and am working hard on getting my brain healthy as well. I have good support around me and I have good professionals to turn to. I just wanted to make public that I am struggling.... and that struggle is pretty normal... and that brains sometimes get screwed up just like any other organ can get screwed up. I just feel grateful to those who have been public with their struggles and decided that it would be good for me to share as well.

That's all for now... I love you all!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Color Quiz

Hey folks,

I know, I know... long time no post. I've been a bit crazy and haven't really had the energy to post. Today a friend posted a link to a kind of personality quiz online, and I went ahead and took it. It only took a few minutes, and some of the things the results said were strangely accurate. Since you are probably interested in my life if you read this blog, I thought I'd share. I might share actual details about my actual life sometime, rather than results from a silly test, but hey... this is better than nothing, right?

Your Existing Situation

"Organized and detail-oriented, she has a very precise and methodical manner. she needs relationships which offer her understanding, respect, and approval."

Your Stress Sources

"Current problems are seen as dangerous and threatening. she is angry a the thought she will have to continually put off her own goals for the time being, leaving her feeling powerless to change things. she feels used, overwhelmed, and exhausted at the demands placed on her. "

Your Restrained Characteristics

Open and emotionally involved in relationships and easily finds satisfaction through sexual activity.
Giving more than she is getting back and feels misunderstood and unappreciated. Feels she is being forced into compromising and even her close relationships leave her feeling emotional distant.
"Believes her hopes and dreams are realistic and sticks to them stubbornly, even though circumstances are forcing her to compromise. Very precise in the qualities she seeks in a partner."
Open and emotionally involved in relationships and easily finds satisfaction through sexual activity.
"Believes her hopes and dreams are realistic and sticks to them stubbornly, even though circumstances are forcing her to compromise. Very precise in the qualities she seeks in a partner."

Your Desired Objective

Seeks to be known for something she has accomplished and uses her social abilities to win people over. Emotional and sensitive and romantic.

Your Actual Problem

"Feeling a lack of energy, she does not wish to be involved in further activity or give in to demands. she is feeling powerless causing her stress, agitation, and irritation, all which she tries to escape by refusing to participate altogether. she tries to escape into a fantasy world where things go her way and her desires are easier to reach."

P.S. Yes, yes it did mention the sex thing twice. Kinda funny, seeing as I've had one date in the past 2 years (and no, there was no sex involved on said date).

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm gonna help Book Bomb!

Hello Everybody, 

So, um... I feel off the blog wagon. I'm going to try and get back on. I do have some fun stories to tell, I just need to sit down and type them up. In the mean time, here's a good cause that may be worth checking out. It involves books, so I'm totally in. I've just copied and pasted a post from Monster Hunter Nation, seeing as how he told the story better than I could:

Mark your calender. On Thursday, November 10th, I’m going to book bomb somebody, and not only that, I’m going to ask all of you for help spread the word because this particular author is in dire need of a boost.

I’ve already plugged Variant by Robison Wells once before. I know many of you read it and liked it. Rob is a friend of mine and a member of Writer Nerd Game Night. Variant is an excellent read, sort of a sci-fi take on Lord of the Flies with a twist, and don’t just take my word for it, it made the Publisher’s Weekly list of the top books of the year. (which is quite the honor, despite PW hating Hard Magic and giving it a sloppy review that made it obvious their lazy ass reviewer only read the first 1/4 of the book. Ultra good Grimnoir and ultra evil Imperium my ass) :)  
But I digress. Variant was one of the best books I’ve read this year. I stayed up late to read it in one sitting.

Normally I wouldn’t bomb the same book again, but Rob is also going through a really tough time. A little while ago he was diagnosed with a severe panic disorder. Basically, something in his brain chemistry has gone out of whack, and his fight or flight reflex is constantly switched on. As a result this has really screwed up his life. He has been trying to get it under control and his doctors have been experimenting with different treatments trying to find the one that will click.
Recently, Rob was laid off from his day job as a result of his illness. This is a real financial hardship for him and his family.

What many people don’t realize about writers is that we keep our day jobs until we have about five or six books in circulation, and sometimes longer depending on how well they are selling. Writing isn’t the most steady of paychecks. (I’m doing well enough now that I could just be a writer, but I happen to love my day job, so I plan on doing it for probably another year).  You’ve got to earn back the advance and even then you only get paid every six months. Variant is Rob’s first book on the national market. He had a ways to go before he would be able to quit the day job, but his illness totally wrecked that plan.

So I want to book bomb the HELL out of Variant. I want to shove that thing up the bestseller lists on Amazon and I want to give my friend a hand.

What is a book bomb? Well, Amazon has its own bestseller list. It is calculated hourly and you are given a sales rank based up on how you stack up against the other six million books on there. It is some sort of strange rolling average algorhythm, but what it comes down to is, the more books that are purchased during that particular time frame, the higher you rank. The higher you rank, the more of their top 50 or top 10 lists you show up on. The more of those you show up on, the higher you go, the more attention you get, the more books you sell.

By getting as many people as possible to purchase the book on a single day, it really kicks a book up the rankings.

So mark your calenders, this Thurday the 10th.
Amazon link to Variant:  http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=monshuntnati-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=0062026089&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

If you were planning on buying a book anyway, I highly recommend Variant. I recommended it before its author fell on really hard times.  Unlike most of my stuff, it is appropriate for adults and teenagers. My 11 and 9 year olds have both read it and really liked it, but they read grown up books anyway. So it makes a good Christmas present. Even the lovely Mrs. Correia really liked Variant, and she is the toughest critic I know. 

If you’ve got a blog, I’d like to ask a favor and please post about this. Rob is a good dude and needs a hand. And you get an awesome book out of the deal.

I’ll put up another post on Thursday linking to some reviews.

EDIT:  And here is Rob’s blog, http://www.robisonwells.com/   He doesn’t know I’m doing this yet.

Sunday, July 17, 2011


So I am going to brave the Arizona DMV (or MVD as they call it here) this week to register my car. I'm thinking about getting a personalized license plate. You know, to give my mode of transportation that added personal touch. Here are some ideas I have:

This one is self-explanitory

As is this one:

As in "May DAFORCE be with you." I am a nerd, its true...

I'd be worried that someone would think I'm a "do you want to see my rash" kind of a Dr. With this one...

A shortened form of my name. Well, with my pretend middle initial in the middle...

Maikar. As in not your car.

"KAREN" is taken. This one still gets the point across...

This one references the "Mistborn" trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. I'm a HUGE fan of his work.

Karen spelled backwards. Watcher in the woods, anyone?

This one is self-explanatory as well.

So what do you think?

If you think of a different one, you can check the availability here. Just leave a comment at the bottom of this post with your idea. I'm sure some of you will think of something awesome that I haven't.

I'll be going in Thursday or Friday, so make sure you pick something by then!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fun with Ginger

Here is exhibit A:

Here is exhibit B:

I found a blog post on making your own Ginger Ale and had to try it. It turned out to be really easy.

You just get a few pieces of ginger root and a few lemons

You rough chop the ginger and grind it up in a food processor with some sugar

Until it makes a paste

You add some water, the lemon juice (and the zest if you want) and bring it to a boil. You let it simmer for a half-hour or so and then strain out the liquid. Add some of your ginger syrup to some carbonated water and enjoy!

It's pretty good. Sweet, yet kinda spicy from the ginger. I dig it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Winging It" and Caramel Don't Mix

When I went to Denver last month I had a cinnamon roll that was covered in caramel instead of frosting.

Blew my mind. It was A-Ma-Zing. I took it as a personal challenge.

The cinnamon rolls came out pretty well. The yeast didn't work quite as well as normal, but they still rose some. Good enough. Ive made these cinnamon rolls often enough that I don't read the recipe. I just kinda wing it.

I've made caramel before, so I just decided to kinda wing that one too. Bad idea. You see, to make caramel, you mix sugar and water and heat it. Once the water boils away the temperature starts to rise and the sugar starts to burn. Caramel is burned sugar. The color of the mixture starts to darken and the flavor of the caramel gets a bit stronger.

I thought I would just watch the color of the caramel and know when to pull it from the heat intuitively. Not so much. If the sugar gets too dark, it gets bitter and nasty. This batch got bitter and nasty.

Even though it was 10:30 in the PM, I decided to try it again. Since I had used most of my supplies, I had to go to the store and get more cream. I tried it again, this time using the correct equipment. That is to say, I used an actual thermometer to tell when the sugar had caramelized to the correct degree. But this time I stirred it to much and the sugar crystallized out. I wasn't prepared to accept failure this time. I added several cups of water and wisked the crap out of it until all of the little crystals dissolved. And then I re-boiled it (with a thermometer) to be able to pull it off at the correct temperature. It worked this time.

And it was good... See?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Only When I'm With Amy

So I'm not a girly girl. Most of you know this about me. I'm not little and cutesy, and that's ok. The aim of this post isn't to elicit sympathy or compliments or anything like that. I just need to establish a baseline for this post.

No matter where I am, I've usually had a friend or two who are little, or cute, or universally pretty. they are the ones that get noticed by the men-folk. Sometimes this results in them being asked out by a new guy every single week, sometimes it has allowed them to bat their eyes and get out of speeding tickets when they get pulled over, and sometimes this results in them getting stuff for free. I am not one of these people. Usually.

Once every blue moon or three, though...

There was this one time I was out with Amy for her birthday dinner. We went to The Trolley in Springville. I was on one that night, and giving the waiter a hard time the whole night. Well, at the end of the night, he asked if we wanted Amy's free birthday treat. We asked if we could have a piece of their famous carrot cake, because Amy and I had talked about how delicious it looked. He hesitated, saying that they normally only gave ice cream or something small, but then looked at me and said OK. This is the only time (that I can remember) flirting my way into something free. And, yes, the cake was delicious.

Fast forward to June of 2011. I went to Utah with the EVMCO (more about that later) and take some time to   visit my go to my favorite Italian deli in Salt Lake City. Once again, I was on one, but due to lack of sleep this time. I was joking around with the dude behind the counter as I was ordering. He was kinda cute, but I was skipping town the next day (yes, I did bring this up in conversation) and so chose to be more excited about the sandwich I was getting.

Amy and I sit down and enjoy the food and the conversation. When we were done, we went up to the counter to get something for our leftovers, and the guy (Doug) gets all smiley and asks me if I'm on Facebook. I say yes, so he hands me his card and says that I should look him up if I ever make it back up to Utah.

This is his card...

I thank him, and manage to make it all the way outside before Amy and I start into the giggling. It took me by surprise and left me wondering...

These things only seem to happen when I'm with Amy. I need to hang out with her more often.