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:

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,   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.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


No, Its not something dirty. A Habob is a massive dust storm. One hit Phoenix last week. This one was somewhere between 3 and 5 thousand feet high. Ka-razy.

Here's a video someone put together. It's pretty scary looking!

I should have gone outside to check it out. I just heard the crazy wind, looked up from my book, and said "sounds windy" to my new roommate Wendy. She looked up from her book and said, "yup" and then we both went back to reading. We're an exciting bunch.

I had no idea what was happening, but this is what I saw when I went outside the next morning...

And here's a side view:

There is still dust blowing all over the place several days later. Such exciting weather!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Collin and ShamanKat

I'm a member of EVMCO, a local choir/orchestra. We had the privilege of playing a concert with Collin Raye this last weekend. It was super fun. That man has a voice like butter. Love it. I didn't shake his hand or anything (I figured that he was being mobbed by enough people) but was a really nice guy. I did give him a thumbs up as he was walking by once and he pointed at me as if to say "No, you are the one that deserves a thumbs up." He was probably right. I do deserve a thumbs up.

Seeing as I play percussion, we're off to the side of the orchestra towards the back. We don't play every song, so we have some chairs set up back there. Well, during rehearsal while he wasn't singing, but I was standing up playing, he did come and sit down in my chair. So there's that. I don't know that I would call it awesome or anything, but I can now say that I've sat in the same chair as an artist that had some #1 hits. I'm pretty much cool by association. Well, maybe just my backside. Since that's the part that was sitting in the chair. My cheeks are 3.4% cooler than they were the day before. Awesome. I took one picture during a rehearsal in a stake center on Friday night. He was way on the other side of the room, so the pic isn't a great one. I jazzed it up a bit, and put a singing-bubble so you could see where Collin was. Butter.
I'm coming up to Utah next week with EVMCO, and then I'll be in Denver for a week for work, so I have a LOT of work to get through this week. So tonight I walked down to Taco Bell to get some grub at dinner time. After I had eaten my chicken burrito and munched on some cinnamon twists, I start to walk back on campus. I was walking along, diet pepsi in one hand, nerdy sci-fi book in the other, and some guy asks me if I'll buy some art off of him for some change. Sure. Why not? He looks like a young, blonde, Chuck Norris with a ponytail, complete with black leather vest. And Chuck Norris is awesome. The internet says so.

Alas, he wasn't Chuck Norris. This guy goes by the name of ShamanKat. Yes, with a K in the middle of it. Mr. Not-Chuck-Norris starts rummaging through a backpack and pulls some pictures out of a binder. I tell him to give me whatever he's willing to part with for $5. He seemed like a nice enough guy, and I figured that he needed the $5 more than I did. He gives me a credit-card sized magnifier thingy with a built in light and a picture of an elf.
Its actually a pretty cool picture, even if it does smell a bit weird. Like incense. (No, not like weed. Incense.)

Those are my awesome stories so far this week. Just thought I'd share with all of my devoted fans. If anything else awesome happens (that I'm willing to share with the world) I'll be sure and write a post about it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May the 4th Be With You

Well folks, its that time again... International STAR WARS DAY!!!

This year's festivities were a bit more low-key than those of last year, but there were still cupcakes.

These were a little easier to put together. Frost cupcakes in white, color the rest with quite a bit of cocoa to make the hair dark. The amount of dry cocoa powder that I added made the frosting pretty thick, so I had to thin it out prior to putting it in the piping bag. I made the bangs with the chocolate frosting, colored in the middle of the oreos so the white filling wouldn't show, and then I stuck the oreos to the sides with more chocolate frosting.

I did the lips and eyes and lips with gel colors I picked up at the grocery store. It's a pain to get frosting to a good, dark black or red color and I really didn't feel like dealing with it.

I think they turned out dang cute!

I also decided to make a "Bantha Milk" punch, rather than just coloring milk blue like I did last year. (The milk that comes from Banthas on Tatooine is blue. It's a Star Wars thing. Obviously)

"Bantha Milk" Punch

2 cans pineapple nectar (you could use regular pineapple juice)
4 pouches Kool-Aid Blue Raspberry Jammers
1/2 can coconut milk
1/4 cup Lemon Juice (needed a little more tartness)
1/4 cup sugar (needed a little more sweetness)

Mix all ingredients well just before serving. The coconut milk will slowly rise to the top, but just mix it back in and enjoy. It's a pina colada type of flavor. I really enjoyed it. The pineapple nectar was really yellow, so it turned more of a teal than the blue I was looking for, but it was a fun experiment. Pineapple juice would probably be a little less yellow.

May the force be with you all!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One Less Item on my Bucket List

Turns out, they have a killer Ren-Faire in Arizona. I had a few friends that clued me in and took me with them. At the Faire, I paid $5 to ride an elephant. It was a really, really big animal. Like really big. In the words of the lady sitting in front of me "This is definitely the biggest thing I've had betw..."

Um... I'm not sure how many kids read the blog. Better leave it at that...

It wasn't a long ride, and it wasn't a fast ride, but it was pretty dang fun. And from this point forward, I can say "I have ridden an elephant." Good times!

Here's a few of the folks I went with. Yes, we're crazy, but not as crazy as a few of the folks we saw walking around. I have nothing against dressing up for these things. I was, in fact, rather jealous of a few of the people that were all medevially-gussied-up. But some of the costumes... yikes. Either because the people were rather... corpulent... and their costumes were rather snug... or because others weren't wearing nearly enough costume. Also, there was inappropriate use of chainmail. Nothing against chainmail, in and of itself, but I do question the judgement of females who wear halter tops made out of it with nothing underneath. For one, there were kids walking around. For two, there's a much greater danger of sunburn that way. And finally, I mean, move too quickly and you're likely to be pinched in a rather uncomfortable spot or two. Ouchie ouch ouch ouchie. No thank you.

We walked, we saw some shows (Hey Nunnie Nunnie was hilarious) attended the jousting tournament, and ate some giant smoked turkey legs. All in all, it was a pretty good day!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

I do it because I can...

Pi. A mathematical constant used all of the time in calculating things like the area of a circle and stuff.

3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286... and so on and so forth.

Turns out there is a 3/14 that comes every year. And on this day, nerds of the world unite in the eating of pie. That delicious, wonderful dessert.

So on pie day of this year, I went to Village Inn and bought my favorite, strawberry rhubarb. And then I took it home, and started eating it from the middle. That's not something that you get to do very often. Its fun. I highly recommend it!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Finally, a use for ugly ties...

So I got an email this week that had a really fun craft idea. It involved destroying ugly ties. How is that not something I would have fun doing? I went to DI and picked out my 6 favorites. I was just going to pick up 2 or 3, but they were only $1 each, and there were so many to choose from so I ended up with 6.

It's important that the ties are 100% silk. You'll have to check the labels, either the bit on the large half of the tie, or a little label tucked into the back of the small part of the tie. It will either say 100% silk, or All Silk. Either way.

Once you have your ties in hand, you want to cut them up the back and remove the material inside that keeps them in tie-shape. Also, cut out the lining that you see on the either end. You'll end up with long, skinny pieces of silk.

You can color hard-boiled eggs, but if you want to keep the eggs around longer, you can blow the shells empty and color them like that. If you do use hard-boiled, its important to not plan on eating the eggs. Tie-dying dye is different from food-dying dye. I wouldn't risk it.

To blow eggs, you poke a tiny hole in one end (I used a safety pin)

Then you poke a larger hole in the other end. Put your lips over the side with the small hole and blow into the egg. It takes quite a bit of pressure, but the guts will come out the other end. You can read here for how to do it with a baby snot-sucker thingy.

Once the eggs are have been hollow-ified, you cut a piece of the silk that will cover the egg completely. You also need another piece of material (preferably light-colored) that will fit around the egg as well. This will keep the color from the tie bleeding over from egg to egg. I used some quilting fabric that I didn't really like all that much. You want the right side of the silk (the part of the tie that was seen) to face the egg.

Wrap the material around the egg and secure with a twisty tie. You could use string here, but I think twisty ties make things a bit easier. Also, I would tie the silk bit first, and make sure that as much material as possible was in direct contact with the egg shell. I just tied both pieces of material at once. I wasn't able to make sure that the silk contact was at a maximum, so I ended up with more white swirly bits on my eggs than some of the pictures you see at other blogs.

Here are my little egg bundles. I started out with an even dozen, but had three casualties in the egg-blowing process.

After you're all wrapped up, put the eggs in a pot of boiling water with 1/4 C. vinegar added. I didn't measure the vinegar, just slopped some in. My pot probably had closer to 1/2 C. in there. It worked just fine.

You need to weigh down the eggs. Being hollow, they are pretty floaty otherwise. I used a vegetable steamer and put a glass of water on top. You don't want it heavy enough to crush the eggs, but you do want it heavy enough to keep them down.

Let them boil for 20 minutes or so. My kitchen pretty much reeked of vinegar both during and after this step. Also, the water turned pinkish from the tie dye.

Pull the eggs from the water, and let them cool completely before you unwrap them. I just let them sit overnight.

This is what I found when I did the opening upping. Here's the flowery one. I really didn't get enough of this tie in contact with the egg. Would have been even purdier if I had.

The red stripeys transferred really well, I think...

This tie was really ugly, but the egg turned out pretty fun.

The red paisley one was my favorite. Once again, it would have been even cooler if I had tightened the silk more. D'oh!

The yellow tie didn't transfer as well. Still kind of fun.

This one was fun too.

Here's the other paisley one. Very cool.

Well, I thought I'd share my Easter festivity. Seeing as I didn't really decorate for Christmas. Or Valentines day. I did eat corned beef on St. Paddy's day. That was festive, I guess...

Happy Easter week to you all!