Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My workflow

This is the condensed version of how my days go, concentrating on how only one of many projects goes awry...

I got a great idea! One of my new stories I conceived as a comic, but knew I couldn't draw in the style I wanted (realistic, DC/ Marvel type stuff). After stewing over the idea for a couple months, I had an AHA! moment! I could make it in a video game engine! There are tons that are freely available, the assets such as animation, skins, characters, animations, all come with. If I am not making a game, and just some web shorts, this shouldn't be hard at all!

Do some research, find the perfect solution-- Source Filmmaker. Uses the Source game engine, but also has built in movie editing features. Fantastic!

Download the file. Crashes on startup. Try again. And again. And again. Crashes. Try a different SDK from Source. Crashes. Now I am suspicious. Try Source games. Crashes. All of them. Off to google to find a solution. Error message is too generic, and help page from Valve takes hours to go through. Nothing helps. Expand to forums. Nothing helps. Try more games that are not Valve games. Crashes too. One gives an error log. Hmmm...

Next day, back on the hunt. Research error code, find out it is related to directx 9. Go to Microsoft and try all their solutions. Download everything remotely related to it and install. Nothing helps, takes hours to track everything down and slog through more forums. Have had enough of this shit, dig out all my save game files, then completely scrub all my Steam games. Reinstall fresh. Crashes. FUUUUUUUU!!! Out of curiosity, try a non Steam game. Crashes.

Oh, it's on. Make a new profile on Windows. Try a game. It launches. Bloody hell. Log off and back onto my main account. Only two processes are running on my main that aren't running on the spare profile. One is a tiny little fan utility. Turn it off. Games are fine.


Now I'm curious. Google the problem. Find out that this was a problem isolated to that ONE version of the utility. I had just reinstalled Windows, and downloaded THAT VERSION when I did so. Never had a problem with it before, so I didn't suspect a thing. I pay attention to what is running on my computer, and never imagined that was the culprit.

Two full days lost. Day three, back onto the project!

First, morning stuff. Breakfast. Dishes. Bring in trash. Check mail. Check email. Reply to email. Try to print out return label. Printer doesn't print. Still. Decide I have had enough of this shit and begin to troubleshoot printer. Spend an hour doing to same thing over and over again. Perform some technology voodoo. No idea what I did. It prints! Now to get down to work...

Following a tutorial side by side with the game. Realize the keyboard is awkward to use for this, my keypad would be perfect. Try to pull it down, realize cord is stuck behind monitor. Go behind monitor to pull out cord, and realize how dusty it is. Grab can of compressed air and clean. Realize the tower hasn't been dusted in months too. Dust out case. See that my nice scanner is dusty. Dust that. Look for dust cover in room. Now dog thinks it is time to play. Play with dog. Cover scanner. Realized how ridiculous that just was, and thought it would make a funny blog post. Decided I was too set on my project, and it would be best to end my sidetracking now. Continue with tutorial.

Set up keypad. Try to use new-fangled software and get confused. Keystrokes aren't registering properly. Manually enter stuff in and try to continue with the tutorial. Try to program more keys into keypad, and have trouble again. Sick of this shit! Start poking around keypad, find the setting that was causing problems and confused me about the keypad. Now it works great! Finish programing and continue with tutorial. Realize empty can and bottle on my desk are preventing a clear view of screen, so I take them out to the recycling. While outside, I notice the sprinkler in my garden was on. I had been considering moving some plants that weren't getting enough water underneath it. Decided now was a good time. Rearranged plants. Pulled some weeds. Picked some grapes and figs. Ate some grapes and figs. Tisked at some dead plants. Pulled more weeds. Moved some stuff around. Too hot for anything else, so I went back inside. Realized I just did it again. Fuck. Ok, time to blog!

Been up for six hours already today, third day working on this project, only 15 minutes into tutorial.

ADHD much?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Vegan Chipotle cheese sauce

Smokey Chipotle Cheese Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (or other gluten-free flour)
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk of choice (make sure it is unsweetened!)
  • 4 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
  • 2 chipotles in adobo sauce, chopped (use only 1 if you don't like really spicy!)
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tbsp African Smoke spice mix (from Trader Joes)
  • 2 tsp 21 seasoning mix (from Trader Joes)
  • 2 tsp regular red label Spike spice mix (found at most grocery stores, Clark's should have it)
  • 1 Tbsp 'low sodium' yellow label Spike spice mix (Clark's had it)
  • 2 cups Daiya cheddar (one 8-ounce package), OR 5 oz 'Hickory Smoked' cheese spread (found at Clark's Nutrition. I think it was cheaper than Daiya, and I thought it tasted WAY better too!)


Melt coconut oil in a medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add chickpea flour, whisking until smooth. Cook into a rue by stirring constantly until the mixture begins to just barely brown.* Add non-dairy milk and Nutritional Yeast and whisk continually for 5 minutes (to avoid lumps) until thickened. Remove from heat and add chopped chipotles as well as a couple tablespoons of adobo sauce from the can (to taste), and all the spices; stir to combine. Gradually add Daiya cheddar or cheese spread, whisking as you do so, until smooth consistency is reached (may take a few minutes).

 *Some people say it smells like buttered popcorn when it reaches this point, and that is how you know it is ready! You can find lots of videos online that show you how to make it, so head on over to Youtube and practice a bit before you plan to make the sauce. Rue is the secret to the BEST vegan sauces, and it is SO easy to make once you get it down!

Regular Cheese Sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp Vegan Margarine, such as Earth Balance (found at most stores)
2 1/2 Tbsp flour
2 cups nondairy milk, divided (I use soy. Make sure it is unsweetened!)
4 ounces pimentos
2 1/2 tsp regular red label 'Spike' spice mix
3 Tbsp dehydrated onions
3-4 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
black pepper, to taste
5 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon lemon juice, more to taste
arrowroot, as needed to thicken (around 2 tsp. Mix well with a small amount of COLD water before adding in!)

Blend together cashews, pimentos, and a few tablespoons of soymilk (don't be afraid to use too much, you just need some moisture so the cashews will blend into a puree) and set aside. Make a rue with margarine and flour. Add the remaining soymilk to the rue and cook down on medium low heat for a few minutes. Add the cashew puree and all the spices and cook down for around 5 minutes, or until thick. Add cornstarch only if you need it to thicken the sauce more. The lemon juice makes the sauce taste more 'sharp', like sharper cheddar. Try the sauce with the 1 tbsp, and add a bit more, teaspoon at a time, to adjust the flavor to be a bit more bold. Or, leave it out all together to make it more mellow.

You can also use a bit of plain old yellow mustard to give it a nice bold flavor instead of the lemon juice, or use it together with the lemon juice. Experiment! Feel free to add more spices to it for specific uses, like some canned chilies and olives for nachos. You can make a great Alfredo sauce for pasta or a white vegan lasagna (crumble some tofu and fresh spinach between the layers and pour this sauce on top of the layers). To make Alfredo, use only the rue, soy milk, cashews, garlic powder, a bit of salt, bit of pepper, and an Italian seasoning blend!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Champagne Citrus Swai

No, not vegan. But BOY did this turn out good! I only post my AMAZING recipes, so you know it has to be good if it passed that test!

I didn't know what Swai was when I picked it up. It was on sale, cheap, so I figured I would try some. Google told me that it is another inexpensive white fish as an alternative to Tilapia, Cod, and Catfish. I found this fish FAR superior to all of those fish. Zero fishiness, this recipe tastes like a delicate white protein, which I prefer over... fish. Blech. I will try it again with another white fish and see if they turn out as good, but I have a feeling that Swai is just a better, more mild fish overall :) There was almost no fishy smell when preparing it, despite the fact the fish was purchased the date of expiration (you know, on sale...) and stuffed in the freezer for months before I pulled it out to make this. Most stuff gets a bit... fishy... when I do that, but not the Swai!

Champagne Citrus Swai

Swai (about 1/2 lb)
Whole wheat flour, about 1/2 cup
Olive oil
Truffle Oil (optional)
Lemon Pepper
Garlic powder
Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar (I find it regularly and inexpensively at Trader Joes, use regular Champagne Vinegar and a dash of orange juice as a substitute)
Dry Sherry

Pat Swai dry, as dry as you can get it!

Grind some of that lemon pepper and about 1 tsp of garlic powder into the flour, and mix together (add a dash of salt if your lemon pepper is unsalted).

Sprinkle half of the flour on a plate, and set the Swai on top. Sprinkle the rest of flour on top of the fish. Rub the flour into the fish, getting all the sides too! Flip over and repeat.

Heat about 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan on medium heat. Add 1 tbsp of truffle oil (or another tbsp of olive if you decide not to use it) and place the fish in the pan.

Fry for three minutes on each side, or until fish is golden brown, adding a bit more olive oil if needed.

After the second side is done, deglaze with 1/3 cup of vinegar and a glug of Sherry (couple tablespoons) over the top of the fish. Cook for two more minutes on each side.

There was a good amount of vinegar left when I was done, so I continued cooking it down after I removed the fish to make a glaze. I found the fish was so flavorful, it didn't need it! But it goes GREAT with some rice!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Ouroboros

My day is filled with fleeting ideas, pieces of stories, clever sayings, words of wisdom, extistensial meanderings... but I never write them down. Too busy. Elbow deep in work, in the middle of other tasks otherwise difficult to pull away from... then they are gone. I comfort myself by telling myself I will remember the ideas eventually and write them down into something great, like 'On Tour'. I never remember.

...gonna steal time from the faulty plan...

(ironic since 'On Tour' is about Phish...) I know my memory blows. Not a chance in hell I will remember this shit. I am lucky if I remember a small fraction in random moments that remind me.

...gotta blank space where my mind should be...

My days off just feel like recoup days, and days where I plan on cleaning the house that drives me insane with how messy it is. Or, I plan on running errands, finishing projects. More time than not, I look at the mess and get too overwhelmed and tired to touch it. I cant find the energy or give-a-shit to finish projects or run errands. So things just pile up on top of me and around me in this endless cycle of too-much-shit is too overwhelming, so it piles into an ever growing heap of shit that is heavier and harder to deal with each time I look at it.

...got strange demands piled up on me...

Some days, I want to chuck it all, give the finger to everything, and disappear.  Flat out, drop off the grid and try to figure shit out.

...gonna shrug demands off of me...

Then I get rational and realize life would become WAY harder and more complicated, with new piles of shit, in exchange for adventure. One pile of shit for another? Ugh. There is no escape, is there? I stay trapped in this loop or get stuck in another. Either way, I feel like a fucking verbil grinding away, thinking if I run fast enough in this wheel, I can be free of it.

...got memories. .. got memories. .. got memories of being free...

Sometimes I get this fleeting feeling that, in a past life, alternate timeline, evil twin of me, whatever you want to call it, that I wasn't in this rat race. That I was fulfilled, doing what I want, making a difference, and being free... Maybe it's just a daydream projection of where I want to be. Go ask a dozen doctors, get a dozen different answers. I don't know why I feel this anxiety so deep down, this feeling that things are not right but exactly as they are meant to be. Like a mismatched soul to time and place, which goes back to a feeling I have had since I was old enough to remember having any. I always have felt awkward and out of place, and out of time as well once I understood that dimension. Fantasy and Sci-fi stories have always felt like more comfortable places than this one. Which is how we come back full circle to my head in the clouds, dreaming of places and lives I would rather be in and living than this one. Anywhere but here, more times than not. Living two lives, the one I am in and don't want, while dreaming of new ones in my head I want but am not in.

...got clouds that seem to follow me...

I just melt into depression when it gets to be too much. Piles of shit from a life I don't want, why do I keep running a race I don't want to win, in a sport I hate? I tell myself I can change the sport and race if I just get through it. My dangling carrot. If I am successful in this life, I can make new rules. Money can buy adventures and peace of mind. It can buy time so I can make a good plan and a life that feels like it fits... right? ...right? ...don't tell me I am wrong, because this can't be all there is... there has to be a rainbow on the other side of a pot of gold.

...gonna dream... gonna dream... dream of being free...

My spirals, my Ouroboros, looks something like this. Eating myself, my own soul, just to get to the next day. I go down these spirals, dreaming, trying to encourage myself when all evidence points to what I don't want to face, a life I don't want. No other nourishment, life, exists, so I gnaw at my own, waiting for that juicy mouse to sustain me long enough to slither off to a place where my Ouroboros,  and soul, can be fulfilled.

Gonna act as though I'm still a woman...

Even though I don't feel the part, I am going to wake up tomorrow and act like I belong. Just like I have been. The performance I have practiced for my whole life. Others play it better, but I get the feeling I am the only one acting here... Don't seem to have any other choice. Mask back on, lights, camera...

...gonna give you one last chance to see...

Back to you, Jen.