The Caffeinated Penguin

musings of a crackpot hacker

Catching up….

| June 2, 2014

So, yeah, we had company up for the weekend of May 3rd, and then Liz and I did our Mothers’ day brunch on the weekend of the 10th (and my folks were able to come up for that, and to visit with the boys) and the following weekend (May 17th) we were in Newburyport, MA for a baby shower. (As an aside, if you’re ever looking for a cute New England town to hang out in, the Essex Street Inn is a nice accommodation right in the center of town, and they serve a continental breakfast. Plus, there’s plenty to see, walking around, seeing the shops, walking up the coast, etc. Also of note, Not Your Average Joes has a pretty extensive gluten free menu.

The next weekend back (the 24th) was memorial day, and we had to do a big grocery shopping on Saturday. Sunday, we hung out with Liz’s cousin, as they were having a cookout. Monday, I needed to get out and mow the lawn before it got even longer (I likely should have done it the weekend of Mothers’ day, but.. well, it was Mothers’ day, and we had company). Anyway, it still took me about 8 hours to mow it all, the main reason for that was that I weeded the strawberries so that I could put the grass clippings down as weed control. The strawberries did well over the winter, and did not all get over grown (which is what happened when I tried to plant some strawberries in that spot a couple of years ago).

Of course, by the time we finished with that list of activities, the weather had warmed up sufficiently that we aren’t really concerned with planting things in the garden. Peas go in early, and my father in law was generous enough to help with that, but everything else we need to be careful when we put in, as we often get frost up until the second week of June. So, Liz and her Dad put in the lettuce and corn last week, and Liz worked on weeding and mulching about the front garden, completing about half. This weekend, I got her more mulch and played with the boys in the grass out front as she finished the rest of it. I also got the last of the fields tilled, so now they’re all ready for the seedlings which will be planted in roughly the following order:

  • Pumpkins
  • Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Hot peppers
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • All the other random herbs. (This order is determined by a combination of how large the seedlings currently are, and how frost resistant that plant is – the Pumpkins, Squash and Cukes are pretty hardy, and are currently huge).

We also need to plant the carrots, as I prepped the bed for them this weekend as well. Since carrots take so long to germinate, we use a raised bed (to keep seed infiltration to a minimum) and I fill it with about 2/3rds compost and top dress that with some sterile growing medium or potting soil. It worked well last year, and by virtue of the compost being freshly turned, it is well aerated and easily pushed out of the way by the carrots.

I also upgraded my laptop to Xubuntu 14.04; as always, my install procedure can be found on my GitHub.

On the video game front, I finished X-Com: Enemy Unknown, and am playing a bit of the highly addictive Civilization V. I wasn’t playing on a super easy difficulty (I think I went with “normal”), and, as a result, my civilization is essentially comprised of a few cities surrounded by large empires.

This version is slightly different – happiness can’t be bought off with structures as easily as with previous versions, and trade is immensely more important. It’s different than I’m used to, but that’s not to say that it’s bad – it just took some time for me to learn the new rules. I suppose if I restarted, I would do better, but I’m getting a little bored with it and want to get back to coming up with Savage Worlds Showdown stats for a pile of the miniatures I own.

So, that gets everyone up to speed with what is going on in my world right now. I very much want to blog about other topics (continuing my gaming stories, talking about eBooks and some other topics), but have not yet had the time. Hopefully, by putting down Civ V, I will.

Update on the boys and other things.

| April 8, 2014

The boys continue to grow like crazy. Max has decided he likes things that he sits in (bouncy chairs, etc.) and Miles has decided that he likes laying on his back and hitting those types of things that dangle in front of your face. Both of them are over 13 lbs, with Max at nearly 14 lbs.

Anyway, I’ve added several more pictures spanning from the end of February to the end of March to The Max and Miles gallery (scroll down, they’re in chronological order, with the most at the bottom)

On the programming front, a friend of ours introduced us to Rockabye Baby! so we picked up some CD’s off of, and I ripped them to a USB stick so I can play it in the car. Of course, this brings up the age-old problem of there not being any decent .m3u playlist generators or synchronizers (or, at least, not any that I like). So, I wrote one. You can find it on one of my github repos. You’re looking for manage_playlists.

On the consumption of media front, I’ve finished Monster Hunter International, very good, highly recommended.

I’ve also been playing through X-Com: Enemy Unknown, which is also highly recommended. This is a bit different than the original, more streamlined. The key with this version of the game seems to be to drag it out so that your troops can gain experience and make scientific advancements. If you research the priority items too rapidly, the game progresses too rapidly and you get overwhelmed.

Additionally, I’ve been playing a little bit of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall, which I’ll likely be playing more of now that the manage playlist script is finished.

I also finally got to cooking up my hot sauce from the peppers for this year:

Hot sauce - peppers

Hot sauce – peppers

Hot sauce - blending

Hot sauce – blending

Hot sauce - straining

Hot sauce – straining

Hot sauce - done!

Hot sauce – done!

So, that’s about what’s been going on in my world.

Chickens, almost grown up

| September 23, 2013

As a follow on to my earlier post, the little peepers are now outside, mostly integrated with the rest of the birds (they aren’t getting pecked, but the older chickens tend to roam more, where these younger ones stay close to the coop and in a bundle). So, here’s some video of them.

Of note – this is shot on my birthday present from Liz – an Olympus TG-820. It’s waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, 12MP, 5x optical zoom, shoots 1080p video and has a microphone, so I’ll actually record audio. It also has a pile of fancy shooting modes which set up the camera for a variety of different scenarios, and it has an HDR mode which I’ve been playing with, taking pictures of miniatures (which I will likely post later).

The idea with the camera, in a general sense, is that it’s a small(ish) camera (it’s larger than a smartphone – which I don’t have, but smaller than my first digital camera) that’s easy enough to slip into a cargo pocket. By being waterproof, we can take it kayaking and such, and by being shockproof, I’m more likely to actually carry it with me.

I think there is a cat in the ceiling…

| August 28, 2011

As a result of the hurricane, at least one of the cats has decided to seek refuge in the hung ceiling of the basement.

The wind is blowing, but as of right now there is nothing tremendously interesting going on – just rain and wind and we still have power. It’s flickered a bit, but is otherwise stable.

The garden has been going well so far. The pea crop was bad – largely my fault, as I underplanted. Plus, that batch of seed seemed to have a pretty poor germination.

The rest of it has been fine – squash and corn were fine, the pumpkins are looking good, as are the onions and potatoes.

Beer is good, carboys are full, and phase 2 of the beer system is complete (phase 1 was 4 kegs with ability to tap 1. Phase 2 was 4 more kegs, with the ability to tap 4. Phase 3 is bringing the taps out of the refrigerator so that they’re proper bar taps).

We’ve decided to keep chickens, starting next year. has a pile of interesting breeds. Liz found a fairly over the top chicken coop, which we’ll be hiring our neighbor to build. He builds houses, and this coop is more “small house” than “shed” or “coop”. That and the economy is pretty down, so he’s available, and building it ourselves will end up taking a couple of months of weekends.

I also picked up a new video card to add to the computer my brother gave me for my birthday. Right now, we’re playing a lot of Battlefield: Bad Company 2, and I’m planning on gearing up for Battlefield 3. This requires an upgrade to Windows 7, which I’, not particularly looking forward to, as I fear it will break a good portion of my existing games. My brother, for example, claims that he’s not been able to get Mechwarrior 4 to work.

I think that I’m going to preemptively partition the drive to multi-boot, likely using xosl as the boot loader. That way I can still play games on XP (even after it goes unsupported) if need be. The working theory is that XP will be a fallback if I can’t get it to work in Windows 7.

Anyway, pictures behind the cut. ASUS card with ATI Radeon 6870 w/ 1GB of RAM. It’s a little absurd.


Productive weekend

| March 27, 2011

Kind of a lazy about the house weekend, but with us, that doesn’t mean nonproductive:

  1. Got the oil changed on my car, the inspection sticker affixed, and some misc detail repair (the 1 to 4 power adapter is remounted, etc.).
  2. While the oil was draining, I tidied up the garage a bit.
  3. Got the seed order squared away
  4. Emptied the compost buckets
  5. Played with dog
  6. Posted the generator instructions
  7. Made bread (maple oatmeal)
  8. Cleaned up and stowed the beer equipment in the basement
  9. Cleaned up the furnace room a bit (still needs more, and I need to add some more light fixtures back there)
  10. Assembled some more minis (Behemoth, Drago, Skarre)
  11. Made chicken and dumplings
  12. Watered the plants

I think that about covers it.

Christmas goings-on, and a bit of catching up…

| December 28, 2010

  • Lizzy got me a copy of Back to the Future, of which we played a couple games this morning. It is quite a good game. It is by the same guys who did Fluxx, which I also recommend.

  • My mother in law got me a copy of Munchkin Quest, which we played last night. Also, a very good game. The board is dynamic, being played as you explore, with the tiles being double-sided, so each game ends up being different.

  • After a month with our new stove:

    New Stove

    New Stove

    I have to say that it is quite wonderful. The center griddle is the perfect side for cooking grilled cheese or steaks for two, and the larger burners are excellent for high-heat applications (bringing things to a boil, stir fry, etc.). The temperature regulation is also vastly superior to the old range, as it doesn’t have the cycle on/cycle off problem which plagues electric stoves. As we now have a consistent heat source, I also picked up a Lodge 5qt dutch oven for use in frying applications. We’ve used it to make a batch of superlative chicken wings.

  • Diesel got a Christmas Goose:

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    Diesel's Christmas Goose

    He’s been being very good this year, and has adjusted well to life here. We’ve been bringing him around to Liz’s folks’ house, where he is happy to just be with people and hang out. He is a very good dog.

  • We’ve been experimenting with growing herbs and greens indoors during the winter. We have lettuce and typicak kitchen herbs (parsley, basil, etc.)

    Indoor Garden

    Indoor Garden

    This has led to us growing Borage, as it came in a collection of herbs used for tea. It does make a nice tea (not unlike a hybrid of cucumber and watermelon) and the younger leaves are nice in a salad. The older ones end up getting a little prickly/hairy.

  • Happy Christmas Tree:

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    Christmas Tree

    This year, we got some of these plastic Christmas balls. Cats knocking off cheap glass ornaments is one thing – they’re typically smart enough to not step on the glass. However, puppy paws? Not so good. These end up essentially being large ping-pong balls. So, they just bounce. Definitely a good decision.

  • This year, Liz and I did most of our shopping on Amazon during black Friday. Therefore, this scene greeted her one day upon her return home from work:
    Pile of parcels

    Pile of parcels


| November 8, 2010

Been busy. Got about 30lbs of potatoes this year, made a couple quarts of hot sauce, made lots of beer, visited my folks, hit my buddy Mike’s halloween party, stuff like that.

We bought a stove. Gas. Current stove is electric. Now I need to run/arrange to have run LP gas lines, get a tank, git it filled, etc.

Need to change my transmission fluid too, and put on snow tires. We had our first snow today.

I suppose that means I should bring in firewood and change over to snow tires as well.

I’ve also been working on Warmachine minis in little bits of spare time I’ve been able to grab. Will post pics when they’re done. Almost ready for inking and then varnish. Then I get to work on the bases. I just ordered a Master Basing kit. Heh.

I’ve also been hacking about on my Pandigital Novel. In addition to the company released open platform firmware (basically stock Android, slightly modified for the device), there’s also a pile of community firmware.

I think that’s it for now…

Fall update

| September 21, 2010

Generator is all serviced and tested.

Some pics behind the cut… (more…)


| August 19, 2010

  • Potatoes are now properly hilled
  • There is now a length of wire holding the outlet hose on to my turbocharger (as opposed to it blowing halfway out every time I hit the throttle too hard)

More photos – Food

| October 9, 2009

This is a collection of food-related bits and bobs from the past couple of years – gardening things, hunting things, etc.