New Dishes I cooked in Feb 2019

February is when I started really getting confident about my bread-making skills. Most of it was great although I didn’t like either of the two buttermilk biscuit recipes I made in February. By contrast the Amish Cinnamon Bread (ATK’s version of Amish Friendship bread) and Brown Butter-Cardamom Banana breads were SO GOOD. Both have been made again in the few months since. Everyone who was here to celebrate a birthday party couldn’t get enough of the Amish bread. The North Carolina cheese biscuits were another of those recipes where Danielle was skeptical when I told her what I was making, but ended up really liking them. The pork posole was good, but flavor-wise reminded me a lot of the chili from the same ATK book. The Vermouth cracked potatoes from Milk Street were certainly a different flavor than I’m used to for potatoes, but I wasn’t dying to make it again. By contrast I loved the stuffed chicken. It had a pesto I finally loved (no pine nuts and lots of basil) and great flavor. It was my mom’s favorite dish for the weekend she was visiting. The skillet turkey burgers were also great. The panade made it the best turkey burgers I’d ever had even though I would still prefer a beef burger if given a choice. Finally, the thai chicken soup was good and spicy.

Upgraded Laptop to Fedora 30

Now that I’m back from Red Hat Summit, I am ready to start upgrading my Fedora computers. Well, probably not the server or the living room HTPC – I’ll take advantage of the fact that Fedora supports the n-1 release to reduce headaches and downtime. As I’ve done for a few releases now, I used the dnf upgrade facility and it worked fine. So far things seem to be working as they should. I got a weird error that said vmlinuz-5.0….. crashed, but given that it was a .fc29 package, I’m going to let that slide for now unless it turns out that things start acting funky on the laptop.

The self-hosting journey continues

Although I’ve had a website since the mid-90s, it was 2005 or thereabouts that I first started hosting my own sites rather than relying on other sites. The first bit of hosting involved blogging and I tried a few different software packages before settling on WordPress. And other than playing around with phpBB for my family and trying out Drupal for a bit for another site, that was it for a long time. Then Google abandoned Google reader so I moved to ttrss. And it was awesome and I didn’t have to worry it would ever go away because I was hosting it. But then this year I learned that Google Music was going to be going away and all the users were going to be pushed to Youtube Music. Unsure of whether my uploaded tracks would really migrate over (Amazon and some others have recently decided they weren’t going to host personally updated tracks), I decided to host Ampache. This had the side-benefit of actually allowing me to listen to my music collection at work since work blocks anything from Google Play. The most recent bit of self-hosting was because Google is about to get rid of Hangouts. Or rather, push all the regular Joes off in favor of making it a business tool. So that, coupled with Slack no longer working at work, led me to start up a Matrix server. That’s been plenty of fun, especially figuring out how to Federate, which allows me to access any open rooms from any other Matrix server.

As a long-time Fedora user, I just wanted to share for anyone who’s either hosting a Matrix server or participating on one and would like a really slick app, you should check out Spectral. It’s not in the repos (and unfortunately most of the other cool apps only have Ubuntu packages), but thanks to recent events giving us the cross-distro Flatpak standard, you can install it that way. Just go to the Spectral Flathub page and follow the instructions. Unlike some of the other, boring looking apps, it looks just as slick (if not moreso) as the :

Podcasts I’m Listening to in 2019

I’ve both added and dropped some podcasts since last time around. Where I’m listing the same podcast as last year I may use the same description as in the past with slight (or no) variation.

Public Radio

Radiolab – Heard about them because sometimes their stories are used on This American Life. Radiolab is a lot like TAL except with a much bigger focus on sound effects. It is, in a way, the descendant of the old radio shows of the 30s and 40s. (Approx 30-45 min)

Marketplace – This is a really good economics show.  They talk about news that happened that day as well as stories that have been pre-prepared.  (Approx 30 min long)

Codebreaker: A tech podcast. Season 1 asked the question “Is it Evil?” of various technologies. still on my feed, but hasn’t release a new episode in 27 months.

On the Media –  Although not always perfect and although it leans a little more left than moderate, On the Media is a good podcast about media issues.  Examples include: truth in advertising, misleading news stories on the cable networks, debunking PR-speak from the White House, and other media literacy items.  I tend to enjoy it nearly all the time and it’s a good balance to news on both sides of the spectrum, calling out CNN as often as Fox News. (Approx 1 hour long)

Fresh Air – Fresh Air is one of NPR’s most famous shows. It tends to have a heavy focus on cultural topics (books, movies, etc).  Terry Gross has been hosting Fresh Air for decades and is a master at interviewing her guests.  Every once in a while there is a guest host or the interview is conducted by a specialist in that industry.  (Approx 1 hour)

Freakonomics – Essentially an audio, episodic version of the eponymous book. If you enjoyed the insights of the book, you’ll really enjoy this podcast. (Approx 30 min)

The Infinite Monkey Cage – a BBC radio show about science. A panel of scientists (and one media star who is interested in science) talk about a topic. The only bummer is that the shows are quite infrequent. Something like 4 weekly episodes per quarter (Approx 30 min)


Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History – if you’re a history buff you really need to be listening to this podcast. Dan’s well-researched podcast presents bits of history you never heard of in ways you never thought of it. He does a great job of making ancient societies relate-able. The only bad thing is that there is a long gap between episodes due to the research involved. (Varies. Approx 1.5 – 4 hrs)

Hardcore History Addendum – Meant to bridge the gap between Hardcore History episodes, it focuses on interviews and smaller topics.

The Dollop – A very funny and very profane look at American history. The premise: The host tells a story of American history to the other guy, who doesn’t know ahead of time what the story’s about. It’s a premise that leads to some great reactions from the person not in the know (usually Gareth, but sometimes they do a Reverse Dollop). Also, listening to this podcast is a great reminder that the past is full of some really messed up people and situations.

History Unplugged – I found this podcast when I was looking for Dan Carlin’s new podcast that’s supposed to bridge the gap between Hardcore History episodes. I enjoy his question and answer episodes. (20 minutes) Still on my feed, but it’s been 7 months since the last episode

Tides of History – I liken this podcast to the other side of Hardcore History. Dan Carlin tends to focus on the big movers and shakers in history. So far, in Tides of History he’s focused a lot on the experience of the common man (or woman) in the time period he’s exploring. Very entertaining and, unlike Hardcore History, it’s not on a George RR Martin update pace. (Usually 20-40 minutes)


WTF with Marc Maron – This is a pretty solid podcast which mostly consists of Marc Maron interviewing comedians.  As with any interview-based show, the episodes are hit or miss, although more often than not they are really good.  Occasionally he does a live show in which he’s still interviewing people, but with 4-6 per episode it’s much less in-depth.  And, since it has an audience, the guest is performing more than being open.  The only irritating thing is that Marc starts off each episode with a rant/listener email reading.  Most of the time this is neither interesting nor funny.  I wish he’d do his rant at the end of the episode so that those of us who just want to hear a great interview with a comedian we like can easily skip the monologue.  (Approx 1.5 hours long)

Conan o’Brien Needs a Friend – It’s kind of like WTF, but much, much jokier.

Science Fiction Short Stories

Clarkesworld Magazine

Escape Pod

There isn’t much to differentiate these two podcasts.  They both feature great selections of short stories.  I added them to my podcatcher to get a dose of fiction among the more non-fiction podcasts I usually listen to.  Also, there’s something great about short-form fiction where you have to build the world AND tell the story in a very concise way.  The main difference between the two podcasts is that Clarkesworld has pretty much just one narrator who’s quite incredible.  Escape Pod tends to have a group of narrators.  Most of them are great – every once in a while there’s a less than stellar one.  Clarkesworld tends to end the story with the narrator’s interpretation and Escape Pod tends to end with reader comments from a few episodes ago. (varies. 15 min to 45 min)

Voyage to the Stars – an improv serialized science fiction story about a group of misfits piloting a sentient ship. They have a plot they’re working towards, but all the dialog in each scene is improvised.


How Did This Get Made – Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael and Jason Mantzoukas (plus the occasional guest) watch movies from the last few decades that will probably be in the future’s version of Mystery Science Theatre 3000. The movies are often incredibly baffling and full of strange plot points. One of the best parts of the show is “Second Opinions” where Paul goes to to get 5 Star ratings for the movie they just spent about an hour lambasting. Every other episode is a mini episode that previews the next show, has a section called “Corrections and Omissions”, and Qs and As. The first two sections are great. The last one varies depending on the quality of the questions and answers. It can be pretty funny, but most times I just skip it. (Approx 1 hr)

Unspooled – Paul Scheer’s serious movie podcast. He teams up with Amy Nicholson to talk about movies from the AFI Top 100 best American movies list. It’s pretty neat to hear them really dissect these movies and they usually have an interview with someone involved in the movie.

Twinsies – Andy Wood from Probably Science and another guy who might just mention that he has a film degree from Arizona State talk about two movies that came out around the same time and are almost the same movie – at least superficially. For example Antz v A Bug’s Life or The Illusionist v The Prestige. Good for film/pop culture nerds. (approximately 45 minutes)


The Bugle – Andy Zaltzman and another comedian (it’s a rotational chair since John Olive left a few years ago) make fun of the news. In a way, it’s like a How Did This Get Made for news. Also similar to The Daily Show in the incredulity of what people in the news are doing. (Approx 30 min)

Political Gabfest (from Slate) – This has taken the role that Talk of the Nation’s Wednesday slot left vacant when the show went off the air. They talk about politics (usually swinging heavily left or sometimes libertarian while ToTN was more neutral) and I get a dose of what everyone’s talking about in politics. (Approximatly 1 hour)

Common Sense with Dan Carlin – If you like the attention Dan puts towards Hardcore History, then you’ll probably love this take on the news. Usually Dan takes one (max 2) topics from the news and by the time he’s done with it, I’ve seen 2-3 different points of view. Sometimes there’s a clearly right point of view (the sky is blue), but other times each side has valid points and neither one has the complete high ground. Dan is a complex creature, like many of us. On some topics he’s more likely to agree with Dems, other time Republicans, and sometimes neither. Other times he agrees with their Platonic Ideal Version, but not their RealPolitik version. Either way, I’m always overjoyed when it shows up – which is somewhere between biweekly and monthly. (Approximately 45 minutes) still on my feed, but it’s been 10 months since the last episode

FiveThirtyEight Elections – a great, wonky podcast from the guys that brought you the most accurate election predictions. Has continued beyond the elections due to the odd circumstances of the Trump administration.

What Trump can teach us about Con Law – Hosted by Roman Mars of 99% Invisible and Elizabeth Joh, a constitutional law professor, it explores issues of constitutional law around statements, executive orders, etc that Trump has made. Very informative and explains a lot about how certain things that affect other politicians don’t affect the present. (15 minutes)


Give Me Fictionnote: I’m still subscribed to this podcast, but it’s been 34 months since the last episode. A pretty hilarious (to my sense of humor) super short story podcast. It’s recorded live (which often spices up comedy) and seems to skew Gen X/Millenial in its humor.  (Varies, but usually under 15 minutes)

Talkin’ Toons with Rob Paulsen – The great voice actor behind two Ninja Turtles, Pinky, Yakko, and many, many other cartoon characters interviews other voice actors. It’s like WTF,  but without the annoying self-reflection 10-15 minutes that I always skip on Maron’s podcast. If you enjoy voice acting nerdom or want a place to start, check this out. (Approximately 1 hour)

Boars, Gore, and Swords: A Game of Throne Podcast – two comedians (and sometimes some friends) discuss each episode of A Game of Thrones and each chapter of the books. While it’s primarily funny, it does sometimes lead me to some deeper insights into each episode. As they’ve gotten closer to the end of the published books and the final season, they’ve branched out to include a lot of “What You Should Be Watching” episode where they cover different movies and TV shows. They’ve introduced me to a lot of shows that I’ve ended up really loving, like Counterpart.

The Allusionist – a podcast about words, where they come from, and how we use them

Nancy – A WNYC podcast about LGBT culture. It’s fascinating for me to hear about a culture I’ve absolutely no experience with and the differences in the life experiences of the hosts and their guests. Also interesting having Kathy Tu as a co-host because the bits of LGBT culture I’ve seen before were from a white perspective and she provides an asian perspective on the LGBT experience. (15 minutes)

Imaginary Worlds – a look at what makes science fiction and fantasy so enjoyable whether as books, film, or music.

Decoder Ring – they take a look at a cultural mystery or meme and where it came from and how it’s affecting culture. Examples include: Truck Nutz, Sad Jennifer Aniston, The Incunabula Papers, and Clown Panic.

SciFi Diner Podcast – I discovered them when I went to Farpoint this year. They talk about SFF stuff. So far from the episodes I’ve heard, it’s mostly about SFF movies.


You Are Not So Smart – the host, who wrote an eponymous book, tackles topics of self-delusion. Examples include placebos, alternative medicine, and conspiracy theories. (Approximately 45 min) I’m still subscribed to the feed, but it’s been 9 months since the last episode

Probably Science – some comedians who used to work in the science and tech fields bring on other comedians (of various levels of scientific knowledge) to discuss pop science and where the articles might be misleading.

Star Talk Radio – Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s official podcast feed. Some episodes are a show hosted by him in which he either interviews a guest or answers listener questions. Others are Chuck Nice and another guy talking about the science of sports.


99% Invisible – Similar in scope to the NPR podcast Invisibilia, this one was there first. It explores the things that are in the background of life. Examples include architectural details we often miss or stories that tell how regions came to be. Production is similar in sonic greatness to RadioLab.  (Approx 15 min)

GoodMuslimBadMuslim – a window into what it’s like to be a Muslim in modern America.

Politically Reactive – note: I’m still subscribed to this podcast, but it’s been 12 months since the last episode. W. Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu discuss politics with some jokes and some interviews with people mostly on the left, but sometimes on the right. They are respectful and always provide context to what’s being said.

More Perfect – Explores Supreme Court rulings and how they affect America.

Song Exploder – they pick a song and a member from that band explains how they put it together. They usually look at each layer of the track – vocals, drums, guitar, etc and talk about why each decision was made. Can range from interesting to revealing.

Business Wars – focuses on business rivalries like Netflix v Blockbuster, Nike v Adidas, or Marvel v DC. Usually 4-6 episodes per topic and a reasonably deep dive into the subjects.


Milk Street – a cooking podcast that goes along with Chris Kimball’s new enterpise, Milk Street. They interview a chef or two, have a question and answer section, and go over a recipe.(Approximately an hour)

Proof – a short podcast by the folks at America’s Test kitchen that looks at various food culture stories. Previous episodes include Fair Foods, Bowls, and Ketchup. (usually about 15-20 minutes)

Serious Eats – Ed Levine interviews a chef about their life and about food.

January Snow Day

Since becoming a parent it’s been a common theme of the blog that I find it fascinating experiencing the kids getting older and, therefore, more able to process the world around them. This winter was the first time the twins could be out in the snow for more than just a few minutes. Not only were they more able to weather the cold, but they were also strong enough to move around in the snow without too much frustration. They were also finally able to have a snowball fight. Although, watch Sam’s face closely from beginning to end in the following video, it’s priceless:

Snowball fight

Because Stella often makes one work REALLY hard for a smile, I really love this photo.

Hurray for SNOW!

Of course, the twins aren’t the only ones who are getting more skilled at getting around in the snow. Scarlett continues to grow and get stronger, of course. So now she’s better able to pull the twins on the sled.

“Let’s Go Exploring!”

Because I didn’t grow up in the north, I though snow angles must be some amazing thing to do because everyone always does it in the movies and cartoons. When I finally got to do it, I thought it was pretty darned over-rated. But maybe it’s because I was just about in middle school the first time I saw snow?

Snow Angels

I wonder if I’ll regain a sense of playfulness in the snow in a couple years when the kids are old enough that they won’t require any help from me whatsoever. Of course, if I’m playing with them, I’m not able to take photos (since snow is wet and cameras hate water). But that’s always the trade-off with parenting isn’t it? I tend to mostly just hang around rather than take photos most days, but since we only get this much snow about once a year – I tend to want to capture it. But sometimes the kids want you to play no matter what.

A snowball for dad!

Obviously, this blog is a curated experience. It should be obvious, anyway, but I keep seeing all these articles about how people in their 20s and 30s are getting plastic surgery to look like Instagram in real life rather than realizing that Instagram is fake. (To see a whole movie related to the phenomenon – see Ingrid Goes West) Anyway, it’s pretty hard to get all three kids to want to take a photo together despite what you might see on the blog. So I was pretty happy to get this one. I also love it more for the fact that it’s not a “perfect” portrait:

A Cold Sibling Portrait

And I’ll end with a couple more of my favorite photos from that day:

Enter the woods?
Done Adventuring

New Dishes I cooked in Jan 2019

In January I made a lot less new things than in previous months, but I did prove that even in sub-freezing temperatures I still BBQ and Smoke. My least favorite were the macadamia nut, white chocolate, and cranberry cookies. I’ve liked white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies in the past, but this was my first time adding cranberries. But it was the macadamia nuts I wasn’t a fan of this time. I’m not sure why, I just didn’t liek the taste. The fattoush was a neat taste for a new salad and I learned how easy it is to make your own pita chips! The glazed ribs were OK, but I didn’t fill the water pan in the Weber Smokey Mountain and I think that led to a more smokey/burnt taste as the glaze dripped off and into the empty water pan. The Big Butts Pork Steak was pretty awesome, though. The recipe also contained my favorite home-made BBQ sauce. I definitely look forward to revisiting that recipe!

2018 Annual Self-Portrait

As I continue to work through my backlog of photos from last year (I’m finally done with 2018 after this post!), I come to my annual self-portrait. Yeah, yeah – even before Instagram was a thing my family was already making fun of me for taking self-portraits or for my 365 project of self-portraits 8 or so years ago. But for me this is part of my most primal photographic urge; even stronger than the urge to create art. It’s the urge to document my life and the life of those around me. And so I take these self-portraits at roughly the same time every year to be able to view them as a series documenting my aging. And so here is the one I took in 2018.

Annual Self-Portrait

I took a few portraits – some of them in this orientation and some in the other. While this is not my best side, this is the one with the better pose and lighting – so it’s the one I liked the most.

New Dishes I cooked in Dec 2018

It’s hard to say which dish was the best one, because lots of them came out great. But it’s pretty easy to say which was the worst – the roti canai came out very much unlike what I was trying to replicate despite following a recipe that went along with a youtube video. Second worst were the English muffins, but they were WAY better than the roti was. They just came out more dense than I was hoping for and they didn’t quite have the nooks and crannies they were supposed to. This was a relatively fast recipe from my Cook it in Cast Iron book. I’ve got another in Bread Illustrated that has a longer rise overnight in the fridge so maybe that one will come out better. Lady Bird Johnson’s BBQ sauce came from Legends of Texas Barbecue, a part of a Humble Cookbook bundle. I took it with me to my mom’s house for Christmas. It was the first time I’d ever made it, but I thought it came out really well – it got lots of kudos. The ground beef enchiladas were a great approximation of the beef enchiladas which normally take twice as long to cook. The Egg and sausage McMuffin came from learning how to make the egg cook the right way by reading about it on Serious Eats. It was pretty good, but I was wishing I had some Canadian bacon instead so it could be more like the real thing. The Brussels sprouts with lemon was a dish I made to try something different with the veggie and it turned out great. It was a very simple recipe that I was able to memorize and so I also made it during Christmas at my folks’ and people really liked it – even those who professed not to like Brussels sprouts. The chopper winter salad with butternut squash came from Dinner Illustrated and it was a very fun, new type of salad that I’d never eaten before. Danielle has made roasted butternut squash before, but we usually consume it via soup. Finally, the two burgers. Of the two, the Bourbon burger was the more universal hit. Danielle was really impressed with my caramelized onions (given my newbie status on making them) and the horseradish sauce was pretty good, too. While I liked the Thai-style pork burgers, Danielle wasn’t quite into the taste of Asian-style pork in a burger. That said, I also cooked them in the carbon steel pan to try and get more use out of it, but it was just a little smaller than the 12 inch pan the recipe called for and so the pan was a bit crowded and I think that deterred some Maillard reaction from happening.

Overall a good month for new recipes and some good holiday hits, but still not doing as well as I’d like with yeasted breads.

Snack Time

While I was swimming last week I came to the realization that my daily snack between lunch and dinner hits pretty much all the food groups. I usually have some afternoon tea with milk (dairy – check!), a couple servings of whatever fruit we happen to have at the house (fruit/veggie – check!), and peanut-butter filled pretzels (carbs, protein, and fats/salts – check, check check!)

CentOS 7 works on Acer Aspire One D255E

Often people try and dissuade you from installing CentOS onto a laptop because they say the chipsets on the laptops are so varied it’s likely you will end up unable to use your laptop because the drivers aren’t there. Well, I don’t know if it’s because this netbook is so old (I mean, netbooks as a category don’t exist anymore – having been supplanted by tablets) or just uses common chipsets, but when I ended up with some Fedora configuration error that I didn’t want to bother debugging (I hate using the netbook on an everyday basis because the keys are too small and the screen is pretty low resolution), I figured it’d be a fun time to test if I could install CentOS on there. During the installation GUI the trackpad worked fine and WiFi connected just fine as well. So if you’ve still got one of these lying around and prefer the longer support windows of CentOS / RHEL – feel free to install CentOS on there.

2018 Video Games Report

In 2018 I played a little more than double the amount of video games as I did in 2017. There are a few reasons for this. First of all, now that the twins are older I don’t have to watch them as diligently. I can’t be as off-hands as I was when it was just Scarlett at this age, but I can spend a little more time on my hobbies. Second, a pretty good chunk of that time (15 hours) was spent playing video games with Scarlett so it just took the place of other potential Father/Daughter projects. That said, with me bouncing around various hobbies, it doesn’t matter that I have more free time now because of the kids getting older because I’m splitting it over more tasks. As I write this I’ve really gotten back into programming. It’s all I think about in the pool and whenever I’m not doing it. So much so that I’m 3.5 months behind on organizing and editing my photos. This bouncing around between hobbies is something I’ve documented many times on this blog. It happened a lot throughout the year so there were times where I’d play games for tons of days in a row and then not play video games (other than my Civ VI multiplayer turns) for months. I’d legitimately forgotten about having played some of these games until I went back to compile the list for the year.

Civilization VI (38 hr 17 min): Civ continues to earn its place as the one game I always buy when it comes out on day 1.  In 2018 I continued my series where I played as China in ever version of Civilization. I also played a couple single player games, including my first Rise and Fall single player game. The governor system was OK, but I’m not sure I used it to its fullest. And, of course, I continued to play my multiplayer games with Dan and Dave, adding some Rise and Fall games to the mix this year.

Pokemon Red (15 hrs): Now that Scarlett had learned to read I figured she could play her first jRPG. She was also really into Pokemon thanks to Netflix, so I thought Pokemon might be the best choice. Since I never played the original Pokemon (I was too old when it came out), I thought it might be fun to see what it was all about. So far it’s been fun, but Scarlett’s reluctance for grinding means she has not been trying to “catch ‘em all”.

Stellaris (8 hr 22 min): I wanted this game since I saw one of the Giant Bomb employees sing its praises. It would give me Civ or Age of Empires on a galactic scale. It would give me what Spore promised and failed to deliver on. So when it was on sale, I grabbed it. Real-time Civilization is way harder than turn-based. I didn’t stop playing out of frustration, though (as I would for XCOM 2 later), but because – like Civ – it seemed to suck up all my time and I needed a break. I’ll probably go back to it, but with how complex it is, I’ll probably have to rewatch my last video to remind myself what I was up to.

FTL (8 hr 14 min): 2018 was the year in which I seriously played this game and tried to win. Over the 8 hours I played, I tried lots of combinations of strategies. Towards the end I was doing well enough to be able to advance pretty far through the galaxy although I was never in the right shape to face the final enemy.

Civilization V (8 hr 3 min): I’ve mostly fully gone over to Civ VI at this point, but I did play as China for my China series. Also, my multiplayer games with Dan and Dave continue.

Spelunky (6 hr ): Spelunky is always a ton of fun because Derek Yu understands that the most fun and replayable rogue-likes make death trivial so you can jump back in rather than quit the game in frustration.

Civilization IV (4 hrs 45 min): I played this game as part of my China series and realized that Civs V and VI have ruined me for stackable armies in Civ. I used to do quite well in Civ IV, but the AI wiped the floor with me because I kept forgetting the intricacies of combat in the old Civ I-IV system with stacks of doom.

XCOM 2 (3 hr 05 min): I bought this game on sale and was excited to play the sequel to a game I really ended up enjoying before. But it seems that Firaxis went the Mario: The Lost Levels (aka Japanese Super Mario Bros 2) route and made this game for hardcore XCOM players. I was just unable to get the hang of things in the new system. With a very limited amount of time for playing video games, that kind of play just really doesn’t appeal to me. I will probably try starting again at the lowest difficulty setting to see if I can have it be just challenging enough, but where I’m not losing all but one soldier in the earliest levels.

Crypt of the NecroDancer (2 hr 29  min): I first saw this game in a short video video from Dan’s channel and I thought it seemed kind of fun. When it was on sale on GOG, I picked it up and both had more fun and advanced further into the dungeons than I expected to be able to. I was also inspired to play both this game and lots more FTL this year by reading Dungeon Hacks, a history of  rogue-likes that made me have a deeper appreciation for the conventions and tropes of the genre.

Witcher 2 (1 hr): My first year doing Extra Life I played the first Witcher game. I wanted to give the sequel a shot now that I had a better graphics card. But with the long opening/training scene, I ran out of time. I just don’t have as much time for these long games as I used to. At this point, I’d have to rewatch my first episode to remember all the shortcuts and commands.

Vertical Drop Heroes HD (34 min): I just wanted to revisit this game for fun. It was a good half hour.

Half Minute Hero (28 min): I played this game during the Extra Life game day. It was a fun little game. They essentially boiled JRPGs to the minimum and it was it interesting to see what that led to. I’ll probably come back to this game in 2019 if I remember I have it.

Pacman DX 2 (15 min): I’m not sure if my control was running out of batteries or (if it was the XBONE controller) if there were USB issues, but frustrating controls meant I couldn’t enjoy this sequel to my favorite PS3 game.

And that gives a rough total of 96 hr 30 min.

My favorite game in 2018 was Civilization VI for continuing to give me a very fun time throughout the year. However, I will say that my surprise hit of 2018 was Crypt of the Necrodancer as I didn’t think I’d really enjoy that game at all. I ended up loving the challenge of trying to make it past the first dungeon. I will almost certainly return to this game in 2019.

New dishes I cooked in Nov 2018

The biggest success of the new dishes in Nov 2018 was the grilled chicken fajitas. We already had a recipe we often used for grilled chicken fajitas, but I wanted to stretch out and used the recipe from America’s Test Kitchen Mexican Recipes book. The biggest disappointment was the Georgian Chicken Soup (Chikhirtma). It was almost universally reviled in the house. I thought ti was fine, but everyone else hated it. The Milk Street Barbecue Rub No. 2 gives poultry a taste similar to satay, so it works quite well with peanut sauce. The mushroom pork omelet was promising, but I added way too many mushrooms because they called for mushrooms by weight and I used dried mushrooms rather than regular, hydrated mushrooms. Everyone liked the chicken tonkatsu, but only I liked the tonkatsu sauce. Finally, the donuts were a bummer, but I think that’s because it didn’t rise as much as it was supposed to, leaving it a bit dense.

Attempting to use Clonezilla to clone my server

My main server, Tanukimario, has a 120GB hard drive in it and it’s started to become annoying to butt up against that limit. I have an 512GB SSD that I only used for a couple years that I wanted to use as a replacement. In order to reduce the annoyances that come from setting things up from scratch, I decided to try and use Clonezilla to copy the drive over. Since the hard drive is so small, it told me it would only take 40 minutes, so I was jazzed I’d be able to do it in the afternoon while everyone was out and I wouldn’t be inconveniencing anyone.

I came back after 40 minutes to see that it had died after 6 minutes beacause there were damaged sectors on the source drive. I tried telling it to run fsck first and then clone, but that didn’t fix it. So, as a final attempt, I used the -rescue option in the expert clone in Clonezilla. That actually completed after about 60 minutes and I was pretty excited when it booted. But, unfortunately, it would just crash out. I was getting fsck errors. I tried running it a few times (each time the text blurred past the screen for 3 or 4 minutes). After doing that a few times without anything getting fixed, I figured that at this point, if it actually booted I would probably end up with a bunch of weird glitches I’d never be able to figure out. So I aborted this attempt for now.

So where do I go from here? The server does use lvm, so I could technically do an lvm clone to the disk because if things are running, then at the userland level there shouldn’t be that much damage. It’s just that doing a dd was causing issues. But since that server started its life as the guest computer, there’s a lot of cruft on there despite my attempts to remove all the desktop software. So I think I’m just going to use this opportunity to do a fresh install of the Fedora Server spin. That way I’ll have the minimal packages (great for upgrades) and I’ll also probably eliminate a few little glitches that I’m dealing with for having been slowly upgrading this computer since Fedora 16 or so. Also, on the plus side, I’ve learned there are damaged sectors on the disk and so I shouldn’t take too long to migrate over. (And should be sure to keep good backups).

So while my immediate goal was a failure, overall it’s a good thing I finally tried it this weekend.