Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Eric Snider's Blackjack

I finally finished my Blackjack game for Palm OS devices. It's the best looking Sniderware game yet. Karen Paluska did all the artwork except for the cards and the casino shoe (That weird thing that holds the cards).

Anyway, if you want Jonah to go to college then please buy a couple copies. :-) If you're not sure yet then download the free 7-day trial. It's fun. You'll see.

Other Sniderware Games

On the off chance you haven't already played the other Sniderware games...

Eric Snider's Solitaire - 10 games, lots of backgrounds and you can even throw the cards!

Eric Snider's Video Poker - Your choice of Jacks or Better and Deuces Wild. Detailed statistics, cool animation and more.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Back from Jolly (Merry?) old(e) England

It's 2:29pm. We're in an MLM (Multi-level marketing?) shuttle van going to San Jose from SFO airport.

We found the van at 2:15pm and waited for more passengers. :-) The good news is that the driver says the tire with a leak will probably make it to San Jose where we live. A college kid pointed out the leak.

2:44 dropped off first passengers. 2 more and then us.

4:18pm OK, we're home. We got here at 3:45pm. There are diapers out front and mail. The diapers were supposedly on hold. Nice. The newspaper and the vegetable delivery were both held successfully though. So 2 out of 3 is pretty good. I can type now instead of using graffiti on my Palm OS device. Jonah is very sleepy but hasn't gone to sleep yet. I guess the cats are glad we're home. But I can't say they were excited.

Also. Jonah officially says his first word now. "Agua" Kind of like "Ahhhhwaaaah". He's going to speak Spanish with a Peruvian accent!

I better see what Kelly and Jonah are doing so they'll keep loving me!

OK, everything is good. I went out to get groceries so we won't starve. And especially so there's milk for Jonah.

I'm gonna go watch TV and program. I've gotta add 5-way keypad control to Blackjack for Palm OS so people can play on their Treo cell phones without using a stylus.

p.s. We stayed with Dan & Allison (& Alex & Emily) at their house and it was great!

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

I made a Dutch baby. Literally.

So there's a type of pancake called a "Dutch Baby." Look, I don't know why it's called that. It's got nothing to do with babies. Apparently the Dutch brought the recipe to America, but American pancake chefs weren't keen about the competition. So there was a law where serving or making foreign pancakes became illegal. Just like prohibition. So you'd go to a pancake speakeasy and order what was referred to as a "Dutch Baby." That way anyone listening wouldn't know you were ordering a foreign pancake.

Anyway, I've been making nearly every kind of pancake described in Joy of Cooking in the past couple months. Most of 'em are really good. (Cottage cheese pancakes are our favorite, but they're not as fast to make as this one.) By the way if you don't have Joy of Cooking it's awesome. It covers everything you'd want to know about cooking in detail. Say you want to make a cake, or cook an artichoke, or skin a squirrel. It's all in there. (Note: The squirrel skinnin' directions, with illustrations, are only in the older versions).

I've made this so many times I've memorized the recipe. It's easy. Here's how you can make a Dutch Baby too...


  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup Milk
  • 1/4 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 4 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (1/2 a stick) DO NOT USE BUTTER THAT HAS SALT IN IT It'll be SUPER salty tasting. Also. Feel free to use less butter. I've been making these with 2 Tablespoons of UNSALTED butter and that works great.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the flour, milk, sugar and eggs together with a whisk in a medium-sized bowl until smooth. Melt the butter in an iron skillet over medium heat. Tilt the pan so the butter coats the bottom and sides. Pour the batter into the pan and cook for 1 minute. Then bake for 12-15 minutes until the top is golden brown.

It's surprising how much it gains in volume once it's done. It'll start deflating as soon as you take it out of the oven. So serve it right away. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top or serve with some kind of really good jam. Serves 2 in our house...

Friday, November 05, 2004

Why it's good to have a back-up snuggly

Jonah's favorite thing, his snuggly, is "Cow." He loves Cow.

Cow is a wind-up musical box sort-of-stuffed animal. She (it?) was a gift from Timmer and Alisa. Beautifully it plays "Mary Had a Little Lamb" instead of say... a song that has something to do with cows.

The thing about Cow is that there is only one. (Sort of a Highlander movie reference for you geeks out there.) We've looked for a back-up online but to no avail. So we don't have a backup Cow if something goes wrong. For example if the nanny decided to throw Cow in the washing machine and dryer we would be out of luck...

I know what you're wondering. What happens to a music box when it's gone through the wash? Right. I know, because I've seen it twice now. What happens is that the music box stops working. And if it's inside a stuffed animal then you have to do stuffed animal surgery to extract it, repair it, and then sew it all up.

Sure, sure, why not explain to the nanny something like "Hey, don't ever wash Cow again. Ever." I thought I had, but her English isn't great, and my Spanish isn't as good as I thought. But also she really likes to keep things clean. And Cow does get pretty grubby over time. So the 2nd time she didn't put Cow in the washer. Kelly figured out later that, in fact, she had hand-washed Cow. But she put Cow in the dryer. Yeah, that was plenty enough centripetal force to screw up the music box again.

When Jonah was younger he didn't notice when we fixed Cow. Or maybe he was napping? But this time he was right there. And let me tell you, he did not like to see me cutting Cow open. Our nanny tried to distract him but mostly he cried the whole time. That's a lot of pressure when you're doing surgery. You know, when the family member is right next to you crying and grabbing at the patient.

My advice to anyone who wrangles babies is that you want to have two (2) of whatever weird toy your baby loves. Just in case. And it's good to rotate between them because the babies are smart. And have secret baby senses. And if you try to replace their well worn bear with a brand new one they will cry. And blame you. And wonder if you're smoking crack because it's so obviously not their bear.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I signed up for freeipods.com

I reread the Wired Magazine article and decided to give it a shot. So I signed up for freeipods.com.

After giving them my name and email address they put me through a "short survey." It was 20 yes/no questions like "Do you want to answer surveys for money?" and "Would you like a FREE phone from T-Mobile?" "Are you SURE you don't want to answer surveys for money?" I clicked "No" 20 times and was done.

Then I signed up for the Sunday New York Times for $3.90 a week. Theoretically I'll cancel it in a couple days once I get credit on freeipods.com. It looks like the deal is that you have to sign up for one of the offers (of about 10) and you need to refer 5 people to the site who also complete their first offer.

If you want to give it a shot, you can sign up here and know you're helpin' me out. It's important to turn off pop-up blockers when you do stuff with their web site. Also... you may want to create a throw away email address to use with them. I didn't, but maybe I should have in case they send spam that gets through Yahoo's spam filter.

Free iPod?

So is it wrong if I'm considering trying out this whole www.freeipods.com thing?

Here's a Wired Magazine article about it. The basic deal is if you sign up for a promotion (like subscribe to Blockbuster's DVD rental-by-mail) and sign up 5 more people on freeipods.com you get a free iPod. Apparently the companies with the promotions pay high enough bounties to the people who run freeipods.com that it ends up being worthwhile for them. Plus there is a lot of publicity about it just because the whole thing sounds so crazy.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

I voted

Weeks ago Kelly and I signed up to permanently be absentee voters. So we can just vote at home and mail it in. Kelly's ballot never came. But she helped me go over the issues while I filled mine out.

At one point we were talking about some local voting item, say #67. And she looked it up in our voting guide and started to say "67 Yes..." so I marked in Yes. Whoops. She was just reading the beginning of a paragraph like this:

What voting on #67 means:
  • 67 Yes - This means you are voting for something that is really very bad. You should not vote yes on this unless you are a bad person.
  • 67 No - This is the right way to vote. If you have even a shred of decency then you should vote "No."
What? You voted "Yes?"
Well, yeah, you said to.
No! I was just starting to read it...

So yesterday we drove to the registrar of voters here. You're supposed to get a replacement ballot if you mess yours up. Once they called my number I asked for a new ballot. The lady said "Here" and gave me a white-out tape thing to correct my ballot. Even though the instructions specifically said not to do that. Great. They told me they were low on ballots so they changed the rule. Or at least that lady did, I guess.

I hope my vote gets counted. We're in California so no matter what Kerry will win here, but I'd like to think my votes for all the other things will get counted too. Those local things are bound to have a bigger effect on me than who the President is.

My prediction:

Three states will be so close that there will be recounts and it will drag out for 3 weeks.

Don't forget to vote!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

The Kingdom of Loathing - Review

I've been playing an online role-playing game the last couple of weeks. It's called The Kingdom of Loathing. It's free. And it's really weird. But also super funny. The graphics are in a hand drawn stick figure style. This game helps prove something that I believe in... Games can be fun without super fancy graphics.

Accordion Thief? Seal Clubber?

Basically you create a character by picking your character's class and then you get right to the playing. The classes include Accordion Thief, Disco Bandit, Seal Clubber and three others. My character "weasel" is a Pastamancer. Yes. Yes. That's right. He is wily in the ways of pasta sorcery. You can see him here wielding a deadly pasta fork.

Once you have your character you click on icons to adventure in various places (Mountains, Plains, Town). There's a tutorial to teach you the basics when you first start playing. You never know what you'll find in a new place. But there are puzzles to be solved and lots of adventures to be had.

But is it fun?

It's goofy and weird and it's a lot of fun.

  • The artwork is funny
  • The user interface is easy
  • After two weeks I'm still turning up new things each time I play
  • The battles make me laugh
  • It's free
There's always that fun of discovery. And the things that come up in the game are so crazy and goofy that the discovery is that much more fun.

Orcs and Dragons are Boring

In other games you might run into a Orc or Dragon. Y'know, things you've heard of before. "Ooh, I'm fighting an orc now. Weren't those the ugly guys in that Lord of the Rings movie?" Big deal. They have 'em in every movie these days, don't they? Now in Kingdom of Loathing all bets are off. You never know what you're going to fight. Maybe a WereTaco, maybe a scary clown. You never know. Here's an example:

You're fighting a Knob Goblin Chef This is one of the chefs of Cobb's Knob. He may look harmless, but he wields a mean ladle. He spatulas you in the throat. Oof! Ugh!


The currency in Loathing is not gold as in many role-playing games. Nope. In Loathing it's meat. So you use your hard-earned meat to buy things. There's also a whole world of meat-smithing that I've only just discovered. With a little know-how and some meat you can create all kinds of things. Like meat armor and weapons! YES!

Kingdom of Loathing is fun. And it's free. So check it out.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Devil Gate!?

We live near a school that has a kind of crazy/cool looking piece of artwork in the front. I always jokingly refer to it as the "Devil Gate." (See picture on right)

I always wondered if the neighbors got riled up when it was first built and then accused the artists of being demon worshippers or something. As it turns out it's called "Spirit Gate" and the artists worked closely with students, neighborhood groups etc when designing it. So as far as I know no one got mad about it. That's pretty cool. Although the idea that everyone would get worked up over this piece of artwork does make me laugh.

I still think it looks like what you'd get if you hired someone to make you a "Devil Gate" but it's pretty neat.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Blurry but cute

Jonah and I went to the mall to buy him some shoes. Apparently when your 15-month old walks around a lot you're supposed to put shoes on 'em. So they don't walk on glass or get cold or somethin'. We've done great at buying used clothes and getting hand-me-downs from friends. But we've been weak in terms of securing shoes for him. If you're looking to make any donations he wears a size 6. :-) Although you may want to bump that to 6 1/2 since he's growing like a weed.

We bought 2 pairs of shoes at Nordstrom's for $53 (yikes). I saw some cool lookin' Converse shoes and asked if they had 'em in his size. "Yes, but we've only got them in white." Beautifully I was about to ask her if they had any shoes that they recommended that weren't white (They had a LOT of white shoes). All-white shoes just don't seem so cool to me. They look huge and dorky. The Converse required tying anyway so we ended up with a slip on pair of slippers and a cool red/black pair of "Etnies" with velcro (picture on left). I'm not familiar with "Etnies." They look like they're a super cool brand with a fancy box, free sticker etc. I'll put an url here and we can all find out... http://www.etnies.com Like it won't just be a porn site.

Anyway, the ladies there were really nice and they gave Jonah a balloon. (See picture above taken with my cell phone camera... Low quality, but convenient!)

Saturday, October 23, 2004

New "Switch" campaign... for John Kerry

Wow, some of these are really good. They're similar to the Apple "Switch" ad campaign. All the people in the clips voted republican in 2000 and say they won't be voting for Bush in 2004. Click the picture to go to the page.

Friday, October 22, 2004

I had lunch

I have a headache. But I had a gyro and an orange freeze (tastes just like a creamsicle) at Falafel's Drive In for lunch. They make really good banana milkshakes too. Like as good as when I was little and we made milkshakes at home with vanilla ice cream, milk, and banana. And we used a milkshake machine that my Uncle Bob gave us. With the big metal cups and everything.

If you're near San Jose then check it out. It's at 2301 Stevens Creek Blvd near Bascom.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Dentist appointment today

Who needs dental insurance anyway?

I'm going to the dentist today. Now that Kelly and I are "old" they suggested that we may not want to pay for dental insurance any more because it's less likely we'll have many more cavities etc. Yeah, well, Kelly just had a $1000 crown done (it's not even gold!). So at least this year we've lost out on that plan. So maybe we should have gone for the insurance. But the dental insurance offered through Kelly's job is expensive and doesn't cover a lot. I've looked for dental insurance as an individual (because I'm self employed) but that always costs more than even a crummy dental plan at a company. (Same goes for medical insurance and vision).


I learned that it's possible to brush too hard when you brush your teeth. Who knew? I always thought the more vigorously you brushed the better. Heh, well, turns out you can wear away your gums.

It was a great moment when the dental hygienist showed me where my gums were worn away. I asked "How long until they heal and grow back?" Ha ha ha. Whew. Yeah, he said "Nah, they won't grow back. You just need to take care of what you have left. Try this electric toothbrush from now on."

So I switched to a Braun Oral-B Super-3D Stereo-vision Triple Rechargeable Double Advanced Excel electric toothbrush. I don't know what it's called. It works really well and my teeth and gums are happier. Even Kelly, who thought the electric toothbrush was a little too much at first, likes it now. And Jonah desperately wants to use it to brush his teeth or hair or something.

Cracked filling

One of my fillings is cracked. It's gonna be $200 to replace it with a new one made of "amalgam." When my dentist said the filling was cracked I asked for a gold tooth right away. She laughed and said she knew I'd say that. I guess I've told her how much I like my existing gold tooth a lot. It's shiny!

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Eric's Favorite TV Shows

Here are the shows I like a lot and record on our TiVo, especially now that it's working again. If you want to skip the list you should just record "Arrested Development" and you'll be ok.

Family Guy - Great cartoon that I'm sorry I missed when it first aired. They're showing all the episodes ever made and I heard they're working on a Family Guy movie.

Aqua Teen Hungerforce - Crazy/weird 15 minute cartoon where, well, it's like the super disturbing lives of some cartoon characters for a fast food company after the ads using them didn't work out. It's funny and weird.

Arrested Development - Super funny and well-written sit-com with Jason Bateman

Chapelle's Show - This is the best sketch comedy show on television. I've watched the Rick James episodes a bunch of times and just thinking about 'em makes me laugh.

Reno 911! - Fake police "reality" show, like Cops. Makes me laugh out loud.

Coupling - British sitcom... sort of like Friends but weirder and racier

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart - Am I the only one that guesses what the real news is based on comedy news?

Nip/Tuck - It's like a soap opera centered around plastic surgeons. It's awesome although I'm wondering if at some point, like all soap operas, they will have a UFO and aliens on the show.

Six Feet Under (HBO) - About a super dysfunctional family that runs a funeral home. Tons of crazy stuff happens and it has sucked me in.

Carnivale (HBO) - About a traveling circus but there's a lot of creepy supernatural somethin' goin' on. Awesome!

Monk - Too predictable yet how can you not love a detective with OCD

Gilmore Girls - Lots of fast talkin' dialog and it's pretty funny

Climbing on the Roof

It hasn't rained for a while. And the baby is sleeping. Our satellite dish is not aimed correctly at the satellite any more. Against my better judgement I am going to climb on the roof, up to the peak by the chimney, and try to re-aim the dish. Unfortunately I can't remember if I need a screw driver or a wrench or what. Maybe I'll just load a bunch of tools in my pockets so I don't have to go up and down. The good news is that I have a pair of wireless headphones that I can use to listen to see if the dish is aimed better. Call me in a half hour on my cell phone if I don't post by then :-) If I don't answer then maybe you should call 911 'cause I've fallen off the roof or something.

9:55am I am alive

OK... rather than add a post after this one I'm continuing where I left off. I MADE IT! I am alive! The ladder was wet and I wiped it down. The roof was dry up by the chimney so, uh, that was safer. (Note to my parents: skip the next sentence. Hmmm. Maybe skip the whole paragraph.) The rest of the roof was pretty wet though. Once I got to the top I stood up on the peak and did my best to hold onto the chimney with one hand while I nudged the dish and loosened bolts. Fortunately there was a (now rusty) set of pliars on the chimney cover. Apparently left after the last 2nd story roof expedition. In summary, this new expedition was a total success. I could hear that I'd aimed the dish better than before (a higher pitch tone) but couldn't know for sure until I came inside and looked at the numbers on the tv settings screen. I just checked and on a scale of 0-100 I got it from 59-60 on most of the transponders to 95-100! Plus. The baby is sleeping. And I cleaned out one of the gutters (with my bare hands). Gross.

11:23am It's still not working

The TiVo says the signal is great but the video still stutters. The sound is ok. I'm irritated at www.blogger.com because I just lost two giant paragraphs which I am now re-writing. I called DirecTV and my TiVo's current software is out of date. They also explained that the stuttering video is a known problem. If I connect it to the phone line (as it's supposed to be all the time) then it will download the software update and everything will be good. So it's downloading now. The support guy tried to sell me on a replacement TiVo for $49 even though this update should fix the problem. I asked if I could get an HDTV TiVo instead of the same model. He said they're ~$1000 and they don't sell them. It's ridiculous that they're so expensive considering you can only use it with DirecTV service. i.e. You can't switch to cable tv or another satellite service and use your $1000 box. It's only good with DirecTV. I still want one though. Mmmmm. HDTV. :-)

4:09pm It's fixed

Yup. It was the software. Now that it downloaded the update everything looks great.


I've been up since 5am. I've got horrible allergies right now. Runny nose and itchy eyes. Even the roof of my mouth is itchy. I've taken some generic Claritin every day for the last few days but it doesn't seem up to the job.

Why am I so allergic now? Maybe it's all the rain? Or our heat is on... is there some kind of creepy mold in the air filter? Should I have changed the filter already? Does anyone change those filters?

pancake bearSo I'm up "early." Back before Jonah was born this would have counted as the "middle of the night." Now it's just "I'm up 2 hours early." He wakes up at 7am every day. Like clockwork. OK, sometimes he sleeps really late and gets up at 7:30am. Kelly and I pretend that he is still sleeping and sometimes manage to stay in bed 'til 8am. Meanwhile Jonah is busy working on projects in his crib with "Cow" and "Pancake Bear." Probably teaching them the baby-sign for "Airplane" and "Light."

OK, the Chlor-Trimeton (more allergy medicine) I took earlier is starting to kick in.

I'd watch some recorded TV shows if only our TiVo was working... It's sort of working. Apparently my not-so-professional installation of the satellite dish is even less professional than I realized. The dish has shifted enough (from the rain - see above) that for some of the channels we just have audio and weird alien-looking snippets of video.

FYI - TiVo is like a digital VCR. Imagine your VCR had a TV Guide built into it and you could pick the shows you want. There are no tapes - everything is recorded to a hard drive inside the TiVo. TiVo is one of my favorite products of all time.

It just started pouring rain. Wow. After months and months of nearly identical sunny days it's cool and weird to hear the rain. It was grey yesterday and I liked it!

Monday, October 18, 2004

Oh yeah...

Now I'm not saying it didn't help that suddenly the Board Game Geek web site is down. But after my previous post I realized maybe I'd better mention that I love my wife Kelly, and my son Jonah. :-) Here's Jonah sitting on the beach in Hawaii when he was 8 months old. He's funny. He's 14 months old now and walks. A lot. And he knows some baby signs (similar to sign language). He knows the signs for fan, light, airplane (we live a mile from the airport), cat, and cheese. We're working on more, bath, and drink. Here's another of Kelly and Jonah in Hawaii. Note: I wasn't even there! Although Alison was and she helped Kelly with Jonah 'n' stuff. And kept her out of trouble. I managed to get a lot of work done while they were gone though. That's when I finished my company's second game for Palm OS devices - Eric Snider's Video Poker. Kelly is pretty and smart. And she'll sing ad-lib words to dorky (yet hilarious) songs that I begin. She's a really good singer. So it's super rewarding when I start a song about, say, changing the babies diaper and then she'll add to it and make it sound beautiful. And yet it's still about the baby's diaper. She is working full time doin' infill housing-related work but she's been able to work from home some which is awesome. We have a nanny helpin' a lot with Jonah so I can actually work and run my company. And so I can watch tv and play video games. Wait, was that out loud?

I love board games

Here's the thing. I love board games. Not your regular Monopoly/Sorry/Candy Land/Chutes & Ladders but games that hardly anyone has heard of, but are nonetheless really fun. And some of these games are easy to learn and normal people like them. Not just for board game geeks any more. What got me excited about board games recently was the discovery of www.boardgamegeek.com This site is to board games as www.imdb.com is to movies. It's amazing. Here are a couple of my favorite board games right now:

Ticket to Ride - a 2-5 player game where you connect train routes across the U.S. It takes 3 minutes to learn and is easy to play. There's plenty of room for strategy but enough luck that if you lose you can blame your bad "Ticket" cards. Heh. You can even play online at Days of Wonder

Lord of the Rings - This is a cooperative card/board game where you and your pals play the parts of Frodo, Sam et al and try to destroy the ring and whoop the pants off Sauron. It's cool because it's cooperative and it encourages working together and planning ahead. Of course when my buddy Drew and I played we had a horrifying run of bad luck and basically Sauron kicked our asses right away. It was as if during the opening credits of the movie you saw Sauron swallow up Frodo and Sam and then "The End". Still... I want to play again.

Testing... 1...2...3... Hello?

I have some web sites I've discovered and news to talk about. Maybe no one cares, but assuming someone does (maybe my Mom or Dad?) I'm starting this blog. :-) This is my first message and if it goes well then get ready to hold onto your pants 'cause I'm really gonna be showin' you how really somethin' super yeah whatever.