Archive for the ‘SMZblog’ Category

Books read: 2009.

Wednesday, January 6th, 2010

This post is mainly for archiving purposes. Of course, feel free to comment on it if you wish. The most recently-finished book is listed first. My full reading list is available over at LibraryThing.

The Sword of the Lictor by Gene Wolfe
The Claw of the Conciliator by Gene Wolfe
The Shadow of the Torturer by Gene Wolfe
Exodus From the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
Calde of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
Lake of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
Nightside the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
The Tower of Fear by Glen Cook
There Are Doors by Gene Wolfe
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
The Terror by Dan Simmons
Gormenghast by Mervyn Peake
Chasm City by Alastair Reynolds
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The Ten Thousand by Paul Kearney
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis
Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Return of the Crimson Guard by Ian C. Esslemont
Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days by Alastair Reynolds
Judge by Karen Traviss
Ally by Karen Traviss
Matriarch by Karen Traviss
The World Before by Karen Traviss
Crossing the Line by Karen Traviss
City of Pearl by Karen Traviss
Dark Lord: The Rise of Darth Vader by James Luceno
Revenge of the Sith by Matthew Stover
Labyrinth of Evil by James Luceno
Shardik by Richard Adams
Prince of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
Knight of Shadows by Roger Zelazny
Sign of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
Blood of Amber by Roger Zelazny
Trumps of Doom by Roger Zelazny
The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian by Robert E. Howard
Rhialto the Marvellous by Jack Vance
Faith & Doubt by John Ortberg
Cugel’s Saga by Jack Vance
The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance
The Dying Earth by Jack Vance
The Courts of Chaos by Roger Zelazny
The Hand of Oberon by Roger Zelazny
Sign of the Unicorn by Roger Zelazny
The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny
Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny
Transformers by Alan Dean Foster
Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday by Alan Dean Foster
The Wizard by Gene Wolfe
The Knight by Gene Wolfe
Legend by David Gemmell
Luke Skywalker and the Shadows of Mindor by Matthew Stover
The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
The Urth of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe

Books read: 2008

Awesome lamburger recipe.

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

A few weeks ago at the grocery store, I picked up a pound of ground lamb on a whim. I’ve always loved lamb, and thought it might be interesting to try a “lamburger”. While the rest of my family ate plain ol’ hamburgers last night, I fried up a couple of lamburgers. The first thing I did was go online to Superior Farms‘ website, to see what their seasoning suggestions were. Armed with a couple of ideas, I went to work.

They were DELICIOUS. This is basically what I did:

Season ground lamb with:

  • salt & pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • garlic powder
  • thyme

(and I would have tried adding some rosemary had we had any)

Form into patties and fry (or grill) until cooked through.

Serve on a bun and top with:

  • a slice of colby-jack cheese, and
  • a tossed salad of shredded lettuce, finely-diced tomatoes, and buttermilk ranch dressing.

They were absolutely fantastic, especially with the buttermilk ranch. For my first burger, I did the normal slice of tomato and a couple leaves of lettuce, but that got messy quick. When I got to the second one, I just took a scoop of the salad we had made and threw it on top. It was perfect.

In the end, neither Sarah nor the kids liked the taste, which was sad, but that just meant more for me.

Thirty-first birthday haul.

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Another year, another “This is what I got for my birthday, thanks everyone!” post.

This is what I got for my birthday:

From my wife, Lane & Sarah, Matt & Becca, Tara, and my parents:
     A new grill!
From my kids:
     TMBG’s “Here Comes Science” CD/DVD
From Matt Armstead:
     the Catan Dice Game
From Marc Baker:
     2 Wii wheels and Weird Al’s “Poodle Hat” CD
With birthday money from Grandpa & Grandma Hawks: Books!
     Bitter Gold Hearts by Glen Cook
     A Cruel Wind by Glen Cook
     The Tower of Fear by Glen Cook
     Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen by Alan Dean Foster
     Free Live Free by Gene Wolfe
     Litany of the Long Sun by Gene Wolfe
     There Are Doors by Gene Wolfe

Thanks, everyone!

Two items of note.

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

The first is regarding my new website. Yes, that’s right. Stop checking this blog and head to instead. Why? Because all of my posts to this blog show up on that site. As well as my Facebook posts, LiveJournal entries, bookmarks, LibraryThing activity, et cetera. Amazing, yes? There’s still some minor layout issues for me to finish up, but the site’s been fully functional for some time now.

Secondly, my birthday is coming up, and for anyone wondering about my wishlists, they are always available at this link.

Another new chorus.

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

Wednesday morning I woke up with a song stuck in my head. One that didn’t exist before that moment. As I slooowly moved toward consciousness, I sang it in my mind over and over, but the words dropped away line by line. By the time I was actually awake, all that was left was the first line, and, miraculously, the entire melody. That morning’s shower time was spent filling in the words again. It was a love song, as the first line makes apparent, but not until I had re-written it did I realize that it was about a new baby:
You are so much more beautiful
     Than I’ve ever dreamed
And I can’t imagine
     Why you’ve been given to me
And I can’t stop thinking
     Of all the things that we’ll see
With you here right now
     It’s so hard to believe
That you’re here right now
     Is so hard to believe

Behold: video!

Friday, July 17th, 2009

Well, it’s been 3 weeks since my sister’s wedding, and 6 days since I dumped the videotape of said event onto the computer. Yesterday I extracted the song that I wrote (and, with Sarah, performed) to its own video clip, and having already posted it to Facebook, now share it here for all to see:

It was pretty windy that day, so the audio quality isn’t sterling, and here are the lyrics for those who can’t make it out:

I always wanted to share
My life with someone who cared
It was my dream, my hope, and my prayer
And when you came to me
I knew that we could be

Two notes in need of a song
Two souls that knew all along
Two halves of a whole, united and strong
Two words that sound the same
Two parts to a refrain

Harmony and melody
Two is better by far
Let the sound of our souls joined sing
Far beyond the stars

You be the hills, I’m the trees
You be the storm, I’m the seas
You be the sun, and I will be the sky
Together we can be
More than just you or me


Standing before you now
I make my solemn vow
Strike now the bells, it’s done
Two hearts now beat as one


Harmony and melody
Two voices to one
Now lift the song that our souls joined sing
Up to the Son

I actually only finished writing it the Tuesday before the wedding (which was on Saturday.) That gave Sarah only 4 days to learn it; and learn it she did, with a cold, no less! I remain impressed.

A series of pipes.

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I’ve been trying to put something like this together for a while now, and was just recently pointed to Yahoo! Pipes. Among its various abilities is the power to consolidate multiple RSS feeds into a single stream. So now you can see what I’m up to all over the web with a single click:

In order to read it, you must have some sort of feed reader (Internet Explorer 7 works just fine.)

Christmas letter, 2008.

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

This is about a month overdue, and I apologize. Would you believe it’s been sitting on my blog as a draft this whole time? Anyway, here it is:

Dear Family and Friends,

Merry Christmas and God’s blessings upon you! We have had a fairly routine year with a few highlights sprinkled throughout.

Chris was promoted in February. He is now a Traffic Analyst, meaning he’s responsible for analyzing the company’s transportation costs, as well as maintaining their business system’s transportation setup. It’s an enjoyable challenge, and the company’s many divisions and modes of transport mean there’s always something new to learn and work on.

Sarah has continued her job as an auditor for her company—no, she is not a financial auditor; math is not her strong suit. She looks through all the charting and other paperwork for the group homes that her company runs. It gets pretty mundane after a while, so she is also a part of several committees and helps to run a couple of important meetings each month. In fact, this year, she was doing so many different things that she won The Decathlon Award at the company’s annual awards gala.

We took two mini-vacations this year: The first was to Chicago in May. Sarah’s cousin got married, so we decided to make a long weekend of it. It was fun to take the kids to the Field museum and the Shedd aquarium. Alex still loves looking at the picture we have of our family with Sue the dinosaur. Elizabeth also had a little extra fun. She got to go to the top of the Sears tower with her uncle Jeremy. She said it was a fun adventure even though she was cold and tired by the time she got home.

In September we went to the Henry Doorly zoo in Omaha. We went down with some friends who grew up in Iowa. It was a very fun day. We enjoyed seeing several kinds of animals that we don’t have at our zoo in Minnesota. Alex was especially excited to see the giraffes, zebras, and rhinos; Elizabeth doesn’t remember what she liked the best. They both got to pet a penguin while we were waiting in line to get our lunch; a zookeeper walked by with one and was letting all the kids touch it. They also both loved the budgie enclosure. Basically it was a giant walk-in bird cage that had the colorful little birds just flying around wherever they wanted. Alex and Elizabeth both liked feeding them and trying to touch them. Chris and our friend actually held one on their fingers.

Our biggest news came toward the end of the year. In November we were happy to find out that our family will be growing again next July. Yep, baby number three is on the way. We are a little nervous to be outnumbered, but thrilled about this addition to our lives.

We are looking forward to all of the new and exciting things to come in the New Year and hope that you are too. Merry Christmas!

Chris, Sarah,
Elizabeth, and Alex

All-you-can-eat KFC? Yes, please!

Monday, December 29th, 2008

(As I type this, it occurs to me I should probably make a “food” icon.)

I hope everyone had a good Christmas. (Which reminds me: I’ll be posting our Christmas letter soon.) In the meantime, I meant to post this last week, but time got away from me.

Last Sunday, for lunch after church, we went to the KFC in Lakeville. Now, the KFC in Apple Valley is closer to our house (and is combined with an A&W as a bonus) but we’d driven by the Lakeville KFC a number of times the past couple years, and had seen something we’d wanted to try out: a buffet!

We finally got around to trying it. It’s pretty much what you’d think, only maybe moreso. It’s available almost all day, and runs only $8 for an adult. (Elizabeth, 4 years old, was $4, and Alex, 3, was only $1.) That price includes beverages and all you can eat from the buffet, which, at least when we were there (though I don’t know if the menu changes) included:

A salad bar (which, though limited in variety, was very fresh), Jell-O, a pistachio salad, soup (broccoli-cheese), biscuits, potatoes, gravy, original recipe chicken, Extra Tasty Crispy chicken, some mexican chicken dish, cinnamon rolls (quite similar to their biscuits, actually, and delicious), coleslaw, macaroni-and-cheese, and probably a few other things I’m forgetting.

All in all, it was fabulous, and well worth the price. I’m guessing, too, that the buffet makes up most of that place’s sales, seeing as how everybody there was doing the all-you-can-eat thing.

Mom and Dad, we’ll have to take you there next time you’re up.


Monday, October 20th, 2008

It has finally happened. I am now OLD.

I actually had my birthday party 2 weeks ago, as a joint affair with Matt Armstead and Tara. Pretty much we just hung out at our place and played games all day. The original idea was to get a game of kickball going, but the weather didn’t end up being great for that.

This Saturday (my actual birthday) was interesting. Sarah’s grandma got tickets to VeggieTales live at our church, so we took the kids and cousin Alex to see that (after spending an hour at Burger King first.) I enjoy the VeggieTales cartoon, but the live show was, in all honesty, pretty lame. The kids had fun, though. After that we headed down to Red Wing and played at a brand-new playground there. Then Sarah’s parents took me to my birthday dinner at Fiest Mexicana, the best mexican restaurant there is. Just before we left, to my embarrassment, they had the waitstaff sing “Happy Birthday” to me, which I got wear a monstrous (and uncomfortable) sombrero through. The good part? Free flan. Tasty.

After that, we went back to Sarah’s parents’ house, and had cake and I opened my present from my parents: a Nintendo Wii. What? Wow. I was not expecting that at all. There goes all semblance of productivity at my house!

The rest of the birthday haul:

Go, from Matt & Becca
Alhambra: The Thief’s Turn (expansion), from Lane & Sarah
Ticket to Ride: Nordic Countries, from Matt Armstead
Catan: Traders & Barbarians (expansion), from Sarah & the kids

From Tara (via giftcard):
She Is the Darkness by Glen Cook
Water Sleeps by Glen Cook
Soldiers Live by Glen Cook
From Grandpa & Grandma Hawks (via cash):
Empire by Orson Scott Card
Star Wars: Allegiance by Timothy Zahn
Sandworms of Dune by Brian Herbert
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
Red Seas Under Red Skies by Scott Lynch
The Knight by Gene Wolfe

Transformers t-shirt, from Anita
Jelly Belly jelly beans, from Sam
Dead End, Meister, and Wheeljack Transformers Alternators toys, from Matt & Becca