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Thought of the Day [Jun. 28th, 2018|12:19 pm]
Over the last few years, I've realized that in Austin, the "heat index" is for noobs.

That thing where you go, "Well it says 95˚F, but the heat index is 105!" when calculating how miserable you're supposed to be.

Maybe Minnesotans say the same thing about wind chill.
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More Wildermyth Comic Backgrounds [Jun. 27th, 2018|09:26 pm]




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More Wildermyth Wildlife [Jun. 21st, 2018|02:18 pm]


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State of the Foodstuffs [Jun. 1st, 2018|04:46 pm]
We're supposed to hover around 100°F for the next few days, and my poor little garden hasn't been able to take it.

The tomato plants are on death's door, currently delivering their tragic Shakespearean monologues to each other. After having grown to great heights and starting to tease me with a bunch of green fruit, they turned totally wilty and brown over the course of a few days. They're apparently going to finish the fruit that they started though, so I'll keep them around until there's nothing left to pick. We've gotten enough tomatoes that it wasn't a total loss, but it was a far cry from the piles of tomatoes that we were foisting onto neighbors last year.

The basil doesn't seem to mind the heat as long as it stays watered. The other greens though (chard, beets, sorrell) are gone. I noticed they were struggling during the day, and told myself I would just try to give them extra water and try to harvest them when they looked good again. Then I came out one afternoon to find them all laying flat, crispy and sun-scalded.

There is one beet plant left that, while small, continues to hang out all green and happy right next to the also-happy sage, who I'm assuming is satisfied with how it finally showed them, it showed them all!

The rosemary persists, without comment.

* * *

Did I tell you about our peach tree? It went bonkers this year. It gave me that "oh god I can't use these up fast enough" experience that the tomatoes failed to give. It was awesome.

Except for the larvae.

The little half-inch devils made their homes within probably a third to half of the peaches I took off that tree.

They all seemed so bewildered when I sliced off their little peach roofs. I almost felt bad for them—as I dumped them and their wreckage down the garbage disposal.

The peaches were still useable after cutting well around the eaten area, but I hope the neighbors didn't get any of the little buggers in our giftbags of peaches. Or if they did, I hope they discovered them by cutting the peaches and not by... (shudder)

* * *

And then, because gardening is so last month now, I rolled a new sourdough starter after getting a neat little book on it. A couple of starters, actually, to see:

a.) whether rest of the fancy-froofy rye flour I had in the pantry will actually perform as well as the baking world says it will, and
b.) whether the bulk-bread-flour from Costco (non organic! Recoil from my blasphemy, bakers!) can underdog its way to something useful.

A week in, Wheaty smells tangy and pleasant. Rye smells like something from the woods of my childhood that I can't quite place. Neither have any rising power whatsoever.

The one loaf I tried making with them so far turned out very dense, but the flavor was weirdly compelling enough that I've been looking forward to toasting a slice for breakfast every day.

We'll wait and watch them for another couple weeks. Unfortunately, trouble-shooting sourdough starter is nearly impossible, even with the internet. Everybody's got a different idea of the things that make or break them. Im not sure whether that's comforting (in that way of, "eh, just do whatever, it's going to do its own things anyway") or unnerving.
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I Try It So You Don't Have To [May. 29th, 2018|09:19 pm]
Just googled "Can you dunk biscotti in wine?"

Turns out the answer is yeah, kinda. But only certain biscotti, and only a certain wine. (And not coffee? Whatever, screw those guys, I don't care if they invented biscotti, they're obviously wrong.)

But I've got chocolate biscotti. And I've never bought Vin Santo, but I do have red wine in a box.

* * *

Verdict: even though dark chocolate and red wine usually go well together, this didn't. It's hard to describe, but the flavors "fought" with each other. It was less than the sum of its parts.

Coffee-dunking works way better.
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Meal History [May. 20th, 2018|08:04 pm]
I'm reading a book about the history of American meals, because that's what's exciting to me these days I guess. And it's funny to discover all the weird opinions people had about food over the centuries.

Meat for breakfast is necessary.
No wait meat for breakfast is actually the worst and will give you chronic health problems.
No wait actually it's fine.

The main meal of the day should be around noon, to give time for digestion.
No no, having the main meal at the end of the day is much much better because people can eat it more slowly after work.

Chocolate will restore your vital energies!
No way it is super bad for you!

Soup is stupid.
No it isn't, it's fancy.

Hot school lunches are a sound investment in the children of our country.
No they aren't, they—you know actually, everyone was pretty on board with this once it got rolling.

But anyway, as much as Victorians & early-twentieth-century folks and all their huffy health/morality claims annoy me, it gives a context for a lot of the arguments about food these days. Claims that this or that nutrient will brighten people's moods and make them more productive. Or all the different theories declaring that if we just ate XYZ foods, and not ABC foods, we'd all be beautiful and healthy.

Not to mention all the worries about the optimal way to parent children, what causes cancer and what doesn't, and what smartphones are doing to the very fabric of society.

Not to say that we're not making progress. It's just that the clucking and finger-wagging and prescriptions for long life/happiness lose their punch when you read the exact same phrases being blasted out to the public for hundreds of years, only about different and often contradictory things.
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Rimworld Thoughts [May. 7th, 2018|11:07 am]
Nate's been playing a lot of Rimworld, and it's one of those games that's too micro-manage-y and complicated for my tastes, so I'm happy to sit and watch him play. You control a group of space colonists (starting with 3-5 and eventually recruiting up to as many as you want) abandoned on a random planet, and you need to get their little mini-civilization up and running by giving them orders to grow food, build houses, defend themselves, etc.

This could have been super boring (for me anyway), except for the fact that each colonist has a randomly generated name and personality. They have passions and pet peeves, they fall in love with each other, and they tame and name animals that they come across.

So we have two "beautiful warriors" who get married, and then the guy falls into despair after his wife is killed by an infected gunshot wound. We have a sanguine doctor who cheerfully forgoes entire nights of sleep to tend to his friends and convince prisoners to join the colony. We have the put-upon, grouchy guy who gets stoned and takes a nap in the middle of a field amid preparations for a big battle.

We had Ferdinand the llama, who obliviously survived more disasters than any llama has a right to, only to finally be slaughtered by one of our colonists who was having a psychotic breakdown because an elephant ate the last of his food.

We get to tell each other fun things like, "Oh no, one of the Yorkshire Terriers overdosed on Go-Juice and puked in the warehouse!"

And nobody really cares about all the drama and story arcs except for us, but. The point is that when a game makes the effort to randomly generate characters and events, it can pay off in spades.
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Thought of the Day: Technology [May. 5th, 2018|10:50 am]
I don't staple papers very often these days, so I had to find an old stapler in one of our drawers somewhere. And I was pleasantly surprised when it worked, because it was over ten years old.

And then I remembered that it's a stapler, not a smartphone, and a lot of things don't become completely obsolete after ten years.

It's a nice thing to remember.
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Chinzilla Sketch [May. 4th, 2018|09:22 am]

I thought that when I googled this one, it was going to be done to death, but actually there were only a few relevant images, and nobody had really gone all-out on it. So there may be space in the future for a bigger effort on Chinzilla.

PS- One more fun garden fact. As chard and beet greens get mature, they start to burn the back of your throat if you eat them raw. It's because of something called oxalic acid, and while it's not going to actually harm you in the quantities found in a chard leaf, it is the primary active ingredient in Bar Keeper's Friend.

If you cook them it's fine, that nixes it for whatever reason, but I suddenly became very interested in researching oxalic acid yesterday for about an hour after taking a single bite of a chard leaf.
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Garden Update: Beet Letdown [May. 1st, 2018|09:45 pm]
I had been surprised by how many of my beet plants had sprouted in the garden, and I had grand plans of pickling dozens of beets because I simply couldn't eat them fast enough.

Those did not pan out, sadly. Turns out this thing can happen where the top of the plant looks gorgeous, but it's not developing the actual beet underneath (not my photo in the link, but that's what they look like). You go to harvest it, and the root is this piddly little thing that isn't worth cooking.

We got a few beets that were maybe an inch and a half in diameter, so we boiled those and stuck them in a salad. And it was a fine salad. They were fine beets. But they looked so small in the bowl by themselves.

I have been using the greens, but they're just not as good as the chard, and I still have plenty of chard.


The tomatoes vary a lot in how they're doing. Of the two cherry tomatoes, one is my largest plant and the other is runty, wilty, sickly, and probably some other unhappy words that end with the letter y. I don't know if it's the plants themselves that made the difference, if one just got sick and the other didn't, if the soil is really that different in the three feet between them, or what. If I had only bought one or the other, I would have believed that I was either amazing or terrible at growing cherry tomatoes specifically. Now I have the data points to know that I am both. Or neither, more likely.

I'm nervously watching the heirlooms grow their green fruit, checking in every day, looking for spots or bugs, and giving them more than their fair share of water. We are once again in the stage of "you have a good plant, now whatever you do, don't botch this." I know the real trials are still to come, because these are tomato plants, and tomato plants love to tease.


The melancholy sage from the previous garden post has suddenly become happy. I have no idea what happened, but now I'm afraid I'll breathe on it wrong and piss it off again.
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The Things You Learn About Yourself [Apr. 18th, 2018|09:54 am]
Sometimes you wonder, "If I really let loose, like didn't stifle it at all, what kind of a scream would I make?"

And the moment when you go to dispose of a massive dead roach, and suddenly the roach is not as dead as you thought it was and now it's trying to give your fingers a hug—that's the moment you learn the answer to that question.

Nate wasn't home to hear it, but I did scare the hell out of the cat.
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Wildflife Magic [Apr. 11th, 2018|11:31 am]
Nate and I were talking about a fantasy setting in which people would attract different kinds of wildlife to their property to gain some low level magic.

Birdfeeders would bring Bird Magic, which could be either musical talent, or having news find its way to you more easily.

Squirrel Magic would mean that you didn't lose items as often, and they'd always turn up again more quickly when you did.

Cat Magic would make your enemies unlucky on your turf, or maybe you'd always squeak by unharmed in situations where you really shouldn't have.

I don't know what Raccoon Magic would be, but it sounds like it would seem lame at first, but turn out to be surprisingly powerful.

Bear Magic is only something you'd try for after years of experience. Physical power would come easily to you, but if you couldn't control it well enough, you'd just turn violent.

We figured Dog Magic would probably make people be more friendly and outgoing with you, then we realized that Dog Magic is already kind of a real thing.
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Thought of the Day: Currently In Use [Mar. 28th, 2018|07:23 pm]
My computer likes to bug me to install updates. Every day until I do the update, it gives me a message at some point:

"There are applications currently in use that are blocking updates from happening."

Yes, there are. Because I am using them. Currently. And I don't want to stop what I'm doing, shut everything down, wait for you to update, then restart them again.

Updates are cool, it's just that every time I'm at my computer to see the update message, it means that I'm in the middle of doing something. Somebody has surely made computers that have an option to do updates "the next time you restart" or whatever, right?
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beet-rat [Mar. 27th, 2018|02:36 pm]

I cut the stringy root-bottom off a beet one day, and it fell onto the floor. And then I forgot about it until an hour later, when I noticed it and my brain had to do this whole like four-step process of not freaking out and thinking it was an animal part that Baxter had brought in.
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The Garden, Year 2 : Back for More [Mar. 17th, 2018|08:58 pm]
The garden beds are getting another go-round this year. The mint, oregano, and rosemary made it through the winter and are our senior plants this year. I assume they organize meet-and-greets for the new plants, dispense wisdom, and talk behind everyone else's back about how things were better back in the day. Thyme and sage have joined the herb section this year, and while the thyme has been integrating well, the sage sits around hating the world but refusing to die because I dunno, I guess it enjoys being miserable. I've never known how to keep sage happy.

Last year I dropped stupid cash on the fancy soil, and when I went back this year to ask about mulch, the guy was like, "Oh, but you bought the Happy Frog soil last year?"


"Well you shouldn't need mulch then. As long as you kept feeding the soil all year."


"You fed it with the molasses. Right?"

"...Oh. Yeaahhhh. Yup."

"Great, well then that'll hold the water and you won't need mulch."

"Uh... awesome. Then. Thanks."

(I have not fed it shit. Though honestly, this soil + the compost is already so much better than anything else I've worked with, I have a feeling it'll be fine if I don't shell out another fifty bucks for replacement stuff.)

I got some Swiss Chard in early, and it's been pretty low-maintenance so far. Chard is nice to have around—I don't like making a whole salad out of it like I would with say, spinach, but it's convenient when I want greens to add to a pasta dish, stir fry, or soup. And when I start to notice that the heat is too much and it's done for the year, i can harvest the whole things and sauté them down to a manageable volume.

I also picked up some beet seeds and threw them into a couple of the beds back when I put in the chard. And like, I like beets. But I didn't expect as many of these things to germinate as they did. And now I'm morally obligated to keep these dozens of beet seedlings alive, until such time as they produce beets and then I have no idea what to do with fifty beets.

I've made a grave error here.

(ETA: pickling beets could be a thing?? I am saddened to learn that the awesome pink pickled vegetables we used to get at Zankou Chicken in LA were actually turnips with beet juice added, but I bet pickled beets would be cool too.)

And then there are the headliners, the prima donnas: the tomatoes. Despite my complaints last year about tomatoes being damn dirty heartbreakers, apparently I decided they were worth it on the whole, since we've got another half-dozen plants this year. The memories of the "Purple Cherokee" heirloom tomato loomed so strongly in my mind that I got two of them this year instead of one. And then we've got three little varieties (since they're hardier in general) and one "Brandywine" heirloom, which is a long shot, but if successful, will make giant pink tomatoes that are the stuff dreams are made of. And the plants were all like two bucks each, so even if they all bomb, oh well boo hoo try again next year.

I don't think they'll all bomb though. Not least because I learned some things last year that I plan to put into practice:

1.) Cage these suckers earlier than you think you need to, and keep them on the straight and narrow. I thought I was on my caging game last year, but everything still ended up sprawling into the grass where it was much more likely to get eaten by critters.

2.) Speaking of critters, I'll be on the lookout for baby stinkbug broods and will be much more ruthless about killing them. My "knock them into soapy water" ninja technique has improved since last year.

3.) Be consistent about watering. Tomatoes complain about that kind of thing emphatically, in the form of cracked fruit.

4.) Be proactive about making fried green tomatoes with the unfortunate souls who aren't going to make it to ripeness.

All this being said, they'll probably fall prey to aphids (ugggghhh aaaapphhiiids) or some disease I haven't heard of yet, but maybe we'll get a few edibles out of them before they do.
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Clowns [Mar. 4th, 2018|08:57 am]
I'm filling out a survey about Ben's vocabulary, and they're asking about different types of characters/people/costumes. I google-imaged "cowboy" to see if Ben knew what it was. He didn't, he guessed fireman, which was kinda interesting (I dunno, we just haven't shown him cowboys I guess. He can tell you a bunch of obscure Mario characters though.)

And then I google-imaged "clown."

Holy shit, guys.

Do not recommend that.

Our culture has apparently decided that there is no such thing as a friendly clown anymore, and I may as well have searched for "unspeakable horror" or "nightmare fuel" directly.

(Ben didn't know what the clown was either, when I finally found one that wasn't terrifying. He just said it was a guy holding balloons.)
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Thought of the Day - Oven [Feb. 28th, 2018|11:23 am]
Our oven is pretty new, since we bought it when we moved into our current house, and apparently a Thing with newer appliances is they all like to make lots of little beeps and chimes and dings. Our oven has a few different "songs" that it sings. One for when the timer goes off, one for when the door has been open too long while it's heating, and one for when it's finished preheating, among others. It's like a Disney character, willing to bust out a whole musical number for any situation.

When it's preheated, it accompanies its little song with some blinking of the oven light. So you've got a happy "Beedle-BEE be-DEE be-DEE!" and flash, flash, flash, and it's adorable because the oven is just so proud of itself.

I've never tried the self-cleaning function, but I bet it loses its damn mind with glee when it gets a chance to pull that task off.
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How Now [Feb. 27th, 2018|10:32 am]

I was whipping up some livestock pngs for Wildermyth, and I like this cow a lot, but she turned out to be not quite "wild" enough. I think the game's cattle will end up looking more like those shaggy Scottish ones.

But I wanted to give her a home here anyway.
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(no subject) [Feb. 21st, 2018|11:40 am]

Sometimes you hear a phrase or even a specific word (e.g. "devour") and a picture pops into your head. And sometimes you examine it and go, "HA too bad I don't have the skill or patience to commit that to paper." But other times it's simple enough that you're like, "you know what, I could get that down pretty quickly if I wanted to."
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Kamikaze KitchenAid [Feb. 8th, 2018|10:07 am]
Our hefty KitchenAid mixer has been great for the last few years, but the other night, it... I dunno, it got too excited while mixing a dough. The mixer has been known to "hop around" a little bit on tough doughs, but the mix times were usually short enough and I was keeping enough of an eye on it that it wasn't an issue.

This time, though. A ten-minute mix, a particularly dense bread dough, and me being distracted by other stuff—it all ended in a big scary BANG on the floor next to me. The mixer had dance-partied right off the side of the counter.

An aside: it's funny too, with those sorts of things, it always takes me a few seconds to figure out what the hell just happened, which makes me think that I'd be terrible in any actual dangerous situation that called for quick thinking. I'd be that character standing in the path of the oncoming monster with a befuddled expression while the audience yelled and face-palmed.

Anyway, the mixer is still in one piece but very unhappy about life right now, and if you turn it on, it runs, but makes noises in that universal language of Bad News ("grundle-grundle ERGGH greeeee grun-grun skruurrgh"). I'll search around and see if these sorts of things can be fixed.
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Catbirdmonster [Jan. 30th, 2018|01:53 pm]

Stick some horns on it!™
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Grandma [Jan. 24th, 2018|12:04 pm]
You guys remember when I used to say things along the lines of, "I won't use that kind of language though—because my Grandma reads this blog?"

Sadly, Grandma passed away this week.

I think almost everybody sees their Grandma as the Quintessential Grandma, the Grandma by Which All Other Grandmas are Judged, and mine was no different. She baked us wonderful food, she played with us when we were little, she provided a welcoming home that we all loved to visit, and she probably did so much other work that I never noticed, being two generations removed.

She was a riot to play cards with, and even as her memory dimmed in the last few years of her life, she could still hold her own in a game of Hearts.

I'll be flying out to South Carolina for the family get-together this weekend (sans kids, which... I don't think I've been away from the kids for more than 24 hours in over 4 years). I'm looking forward to soaking up all the love and memories that will be in the air.
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Cat Hat etc. [Jan. 22nd, 2018|12:20 pm]

I was reading Cat in the Hat to the kids a while ago, and it makes me mad that they went to all the trouble to make a whole live-action movie about it without double-checking whether their main character was pure nightmare fuel.
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PAX South [Jan. 16th, 2018|12:43 pm]
Wildermyth had a booth at PAX South this year in San Antonio (a pretty big video game convention, for those unfamiliar). I mean, it was a little booth alllll the way in the back, since we are a tiny unreleased indie game and not the massive Monster Hunter game that had a twenty foot tall professionally-lit dragon display at the front of the hall. But it was still a booth, and we still got to show the game off to lots of people!

I'd been to PAX with Nate many years ago, and I'd forgotten what a glorious Nerd Homecoming it is. Those kids on the edge of mainstream culture, who get relegated to the role of "comedic relief" or "warning that if you're weird, you could end up like this" in movies—they get to shine here. They're in their element, and everybody seems so happy to be there.

That said, wow... I've been out of the loop for a few years, and I knew I was out of touch with the latest video game happenings, but I didn't realize just how out of touch. They're on what, Dead Rising 4 now? There are more games with that retro pixel style than I can count. There are still lots of people using Blizzard-style art, but I'm pretty sure MMOs are not much of a thing anymore.

I don't think my cluelessness matters too much for our game though. We're pretty niche, and our job is less about appealing to the largest number of people and more about finding/reaching the people who like the kind of thing we're doing.

We had two friends/colleagues helping out at the booth alongside Nate, and I was mostly on kid-wrangling duty. Honestly I'm okay with this, since I never have a good sense of how much I'm supposed to talk to visitors at a booth, so it's a little stressful. We were able to bring the kids into the convention center for maybe 1.5 out of the 3 days we were there, and the rest of the time was spent at a nearby playground (.5 days) and on a trip to the local zoo (1 day). Ben and Eleanor are at the age where they can be very tricky to herd in a crowded place, since they often want to go in opposite directions and neither one could give less of a crap about what I want them to do. I did manage to get in a few sketches of PAX attendees and one sketch of a bear at the zoo, which I'll toss up soonish.

Overall, there was a steady rise from "Oh god this was a terrible mistake" on Thursday night to "I'm glad we did it, but I would prefer not to do it again" by the time we got home late on Sunday, to "Yeah sure, I could handle another convention" two days later.
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Forest Grumpers [Jan. 3rd, 2018|06:33 pm]

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