Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Inner Child is in Charge of My Diet

It turns out that there's a reason they tell you to make a list before going shopping. This is what I bought this evening when getting groceries for the week:

Easily Justified
Lime Water
Cream Cheese

I Could Make a Story For It
Peanut Butter - it's for either the dog or me, whoever uses up her jar first
Frozen Pizza
Diet Coke - just one small bottle

What the Hell was I thinking
1.5 L Jose Cuervo Lime Margarita Mix - There were children in the store
Double Chocolate Brownie Mix - I need my chocolate
Good & Plenty - How can you say no to this odd mixture of crunchy sugar and chewy licorice?
Hershey's Chocolate - I need my chocolate
German Chocolate Brownies (pre-made) - I really, really need my chocolate.

So then I came home and had two German chocolate brownies and a Diet Coke for dinner.

I feel ill.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Thirty is the New Thirty

My baby sister K-Poo turned thirty today, which makes me feel a bit old. Her friend Leslie threw a champagne brunch for her on Sunday in Oakland, so I drove to K-poo's apartment and we carried six bottles of champagne to Leslie's. Here's what I remember:

- K-poo's studio apartment is cute, but small. Really small. The two best points of the size are that she can't possibly accumulate a lot of stuff, and she could cook breakfast in bed for herself.

- The biggest drawbacks of the studio apartment are that she lives on the fourth floor and there is no elevator (which is fine unless you're carrying heavy stuff), and the crown molding stops about one inch from the ceiling. K-poo tried to feed me some line of crap about that being on purpose so you can hang picture hooks from the top of the molding since the walls are plaster, but that would drive me crazy. Just ask her. I spent twenty minutes complaining about it.

- The margarita glasses that I painted turned out well (I think) except for the one on which I tried to paint a J-24. Apparently representational art is not my strong point.

- In K-poo's email, she said that Leslie's apartment was "literally around the corner". Now I'm not arguing that it isn't within walking distance, even burdened with multiple bottles of champagne, but to get there you go out of her apartment, up the hill, around the corner, then down a street that changes names three times before you get to Leslie's apartment. Obviously we have failed to teach the meaning of "literally". I blame the California schools.

- Leslie's apartment is positively spacious compared to K-poo's, which is good since there were about ten people there. Naturally I'd never met any of them before, but I'm such a social butterfly that it didn't matter. No, actually, it was fine, they were all really nice, if young.

- As with every party, I eventually ended up slouching in a corner talking to the gay guys.

- On the way back I remembered why I hate driving into Oakland. Freeway on-ramps and off-ramps are never at the same spot, which means you need to look up how to get to a place, and also how to get home from the same place. I cut the same person off three different times in my quest to get onto the correct freeway since nothing is labeled well and last minute lane changes are the only way to avoid being completely lost. Oh well.

Anyhow, Happy Birthday K-poo!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Wigging Out, or The Trials and Travails of Scientific Experimentation at Home

I planted sunflower seeds this year, mainly as a joke. I plant sunflowers pretty much every year and have never produced one plant. Everyone else around me seems to be able to grow them. In fact, they are grown commercially three miles away, but for whatever reason, I just can't grow them.

So imagine my surprise when they actually sprouted this year. Since I used an entire seed package in six holes, multiple seedlings appeared in each area. And just when I thought I would be forced to thin them out (which I'm not very good at since I feel bad -- oh, gee, you overcame the odds to grow, but sorry, you're not convenient here!) something came along and ate them.

After a few days of applauding the new growth in the day only to find the seedlings shorn to the earth in the morning, I went out at night with a flashlight and discovered the problem: earwigs. They were everywhere.

I'm sure there's some chemical which would wipe out everything in the earwig family instantly, but the point of my garden isn't success. The point of my garden is to give me something to work on, and if things survive long enough to produce food to eat, it tastes even better.

There were a couple of different ideas online, and the one I chose involved putting half an inch of vegetable oil in a cat food tin and leaving that out in the garden.

I had grandiose plans of measuring the success of this method. (After all, there's no quality without metrics.) After the first night I found about thirty earwigs, multiple ants, and a slug drowned in the oil. I wasn't sure if the trap would work beyond one day (leading to objective number two!) so I left it there and put another tin out nearby. The next morning the new trap had about twenty-five earwigs. It didn't look like the old trap had added any new ones, but it was difficult to tell since the earwigs were starting to fall apart. So it appeared that the traps did not in fact last beyond one day, but was that result repeatable? I decided to leave the two out for another night along with yet another new tin.

Then disaster struck. At some point during the day, the ancient blind dog wandered to the back of the yard and ate my experiment. Not only was this a disaster for the experiment, but I'm thinking that eating about a cup of vegetable oil is going to do nothing good for my dog's insides. And I say that as a trained professional.

I'm hoping that my new null hypothesis ("Ingestion of vegetable oil and assorted garden bugs will have no effects on the digestive system of an old blind dog") turns out to be correct...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Bluebird of Happiness, Just the Scrubjay of Stupidity

A couple of years ago, I got home at about 11pm from yet another long day and found a scrubjay in the kitchen.

Amazingly enough in a house with seven cats and a dog, the bird was alive and well, perched on the cabinet door above the stove, about the only place in the entire house the cats couldn't get it. Since all the doors and windows were closed, I assume that it came down the chimney then couldn't figure out how to get out. Also, since it had been dark for multiple hours, it must have been sitting there for quite a while.

Anyhow, my plan to get it out of the house was to put the cats in the bedroom and close the door, open the patio door, then chase the bird out the open door. It was a great plan, but I hadn't counted on three things:

1) The stupidity of the scrubjay
2) The ancient blind dog's excitement about small flapping objects
3) Guido's ability to open all the doors

Instead of flying out the open door, the damn bird would fly straight up, hit the ceiling, and fall stunned to the floor, wait a few seconds, then do the same thing all over again. (Flap, flap, flap, THUNK, drop... flap, flap, flap, THUNK, drop...) Unfortunately I couldn't get it to fly anywhere near the door.

Meanwhile Lucy heard this going on and started chasing the bird around the living room. When she gets excited she forgets where the furniture is. (Click click click BONK click BONK click click...)

To add to the confusion, Guido kept opening the bedroom door, potentially letting all the cats outside through the open patio door, so I had to keep running back the hall, tossing him back in the bedroom, and slamming the door again. There may have been some profanity on my part at this point.

Anyhow, for about ten minutes the house sounded like:

Flap, flap, flap, THUNK, drop, click click BONK flap flap THUNK click BONK "Goddammit Guido stay in there!" flap THUNK BONK click click flap flap BONK THUNK.

I finally shooed the bird out the door.

Frankly, sometimes I find it amazing that my neighbors haven't firebombed my house to force me to move...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

What's Love Got To Do With It?

Question: How are the following three images connected?

Answer: They are all images associated with love.

Okay, when I say "associated with love" I obviously don't mean sex. There are other sites on the internet for that sort of thing. You can probably find variations on all three of those images if you try hard enough, and if you do try that hard, you're a very sick individual, but who am I to judge?

But back to the topic at hand. I have a crazy of cats. (Yes, this is a new definition of crazy, meaning greater than three cats, but I think it's a great definition.) Two of the cats have fallen in love with the pink elephant.

Theirs is a fickle sort of love. The elephant is often ignored for weeks on end, and just dropped in a closet, hidden away from the world until they feel like bringing it out again. The elephant is rarely displayed during the day. In fact, I don't think either cat has done anything other than drag the elephant around while howling, with occasional interludes of straddling.

The elephant shows up in the oddest places: bathroom, bedroom, living room, closet, bathtub, bookshelf, wherever they can drag it, they will leave it for me to trip over in the morning.

So anyhow, I find it weird, but no weirder than those sites on the internet. And who am I to judge?

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reporter's Brain Lost In Story

Okay, so Eric sent me this link a little while ago. He was awed and amazed.

(Story at source)

In case they've removed the story, or you're too lazy to click on the link, or you just don't trust me not to Rick-roll you, the headline of the article is:

Pictured: The 2.5lb kidney stone the size of a coconut surgeons removed from a man's stomach

Like Eric, I, too, was awed and amazed on reading that headline, but for decidedly different reasons. I mean, for a kidney stone to get from the kidney (part of the urinary tract) into the stomach (part of the digestive tract), the guy would have had to pass the stone and then eat it. And if eating something the size of a coconut seems prohibitive, imagine trying to pee it out! This guy must have a johnson the size of... well, larger than a coconut in diameter. And a brain much smaller, since that would be a crazy thing to do.

Of course, if you read the article it points out that the kidney stone was removed from his abdomen, not his stomach -- an important distinction that we'll blame on the headline writer.

But a coconut-sized kidney stone is still newsworthy because it's almost impossible for a kidney stone (aka, a nephrolith if we're going to get all technical) to get that large. See, for a stone to grow in the kidney, the kidney has to be producing urine, a little of which keeps sedimenting on the small stone over time until the stone grows larger and larger. The problem is that eventually the stone reaches a size where it's blocking the outflow, leading to pressure build up inside the kidney, which kills off the kidney cells, leading to no further urine, causing the stone to stop growing. Because of this, the maximum size a kidney stone could ever grow is something less than the size of a kidney. So this guy must have had a well-grown pair of kidneys.

Except that they included an x-ray in the story, which clearly shows that the "kidney stone" is obviously not a kidney stone, but is instead a bladder stone. A big bladder stone is a story you bore all your friends with, but not really something to write an article about.

(Unless, of course, the bladder stone is in a California Desert Tortoise and someone who is leaving the next day and won't be involved with the surgery convinces you that lithotripsy via a prefemoral approach would be a much better idea than a plastrotomy. Sorry about that, Liz. But anyhow, that you can write a paper about.)

So, to recap, the "2.5lb kidney stone the size of a coconut surgeons removed from a man's stomach" was 1) not a kidney stone and 2) wasn't removed from a man's stomach.

Other than that I'm sure the article was totally factual.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Something else that's pretty cool...

My new refrigerator was delivered today. I celebrated by buying ice (which will now stay frozen in cubes instead of melting all over the floor) and ice cream (which will also stay frozen and not run out through a hole in the bottom of the carton and mix with the water puddled on the floor).

Before I started drinking my celebratory margarita (with ice!), I made the following list:

Number of days I knew the refrigerator would be delivered: 4.5
Number of days I procrastinated before cleaning the kitchen: 4

Contents of the old refrigerator

Unopened bags of flour: 2
Opened bags of flour: 1
Times I can remember using flour in the past year: 0

Different types of sugar: 3 (priorities people!)

Boxes of cornstarch spilled on the floor: 1
Cats that ran through the cornstarch before I could clean it up: 3

Questionable eggs thrown out: 2
Cans of beer poured down the drain: 1 (sorry K-poo!)
Inches of really old margarita mix poured down the drain: 1

Bags of rice: 2
Bags of lentils: 1
Bottles of hot sauce: 2 (will be necessary when all I have to eat is lentils and rice)

Nearly empty bottles of salad dressing: 4
Approximate number of salads eaten in the last year: 3

Have a good weekend, everyone. And remember, May 11th is International Feel Sorry For Yourself Day. Start planning now.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nature's pretty cool sometimes

So, somehow I never got around to removing all of last year's dead plants from the garden until I went to plant this year's plants. Yes, I'm aware that this is a bad habit and will lead to parasite and mildew problems. Whatever.

Anyhow, in clearing out the old plants I came across this perfect little globe. I'm pretty sure it's left over from a tomatilla.

How cool is that?

It survived almost an entire year outside in the mud, but it's light and fragile.

It seems like the slightest touch would break it apart.

Anyhow, my new plants (including okra!) have been planted and surrounded with composted manure. It ought to be interesting back there...