Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Whatever...

Well, another Halloween has come and gone, and once again I'm left not very impressed with the youth of today.

Back in the day we put some effort into trick-or-treating. We wore costumes that we (or our parents) made. We figured out who was giving out the best candy and planned routes to maximize our efforts. We knew to avoid the houses that gave out raisins, or worse, pomegranates. There were even kids who got rides out to Huntington Harbor, where legend had it that at least one house gave out silver dollars instead of candy, and the rest gave out full-size chocolate bars.

Those were the days when my parents' careful tally of the number of kids coming to the door climbed above two hundred.

Nowadays I get just a few kids, half of whom either can't remember or can't be bothered to say "Trick or treat". And after the first half hour or so (when it's the little kids with parents in tow), at least half of the kids coming to the door have no costume at all. Come on. How hard is it to at least throw a sheet over your head?

These kids today... They don't deserve my candy.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Chill Out!

The other day as I settled down to work in my living room dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, slippers, a sweatshirt, the warm hat JJ knitted, my parka with the hood pulled up, and a fleece blanket wrapped around my legs, I thought to myself: Self, perhaps it's time to winterize the house.

Actually, my first thought was that I should buy myself a pair of fingerless gloves, but then I thought about winterizing the house.

People who live in horrible places with real weather have big lists of things they need to do, from putting up storm windows to checking the insulation around the doors. My list is a little more basic than that:

  • Close the sliding glass door that opens onto the screened-in cat porch. Check.
  • Close the kitchen window. Check.
  • Close the bedroom window. I ran into some trouble there because in the months since I last closed the window (some time in Spring), the jasmine has meandered up that wall and around the window, and now I can't get the window shut. But I shut it most of the way and added another thing to my list...
  • Cut back the jasmine that is growing up the side of the house.
  • Close the bathroom window. Again, I haven't touched it in the last six months (which gives you some idea of how secure my house is) and the casement arm had rusted in the open position. I put some oil on it, and I'll try again this weekend.
  • Convince the dogs to sleep on the bed. Working on it...
  • Change the filter in the heater so when I finally cave in and turn on the central heat the house doesn't smell like burning dust.
See the hardships I have to endure!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Luckily She Has A Great Personality...

Now, I love my dog Molly, but I have to admit, if she went to school, she'd be taking the short bus.

Exhibit A:

Molly won't get on my bed uninvited, and since it's gotten colder and I refuse to turn on the heat yet, I've been encouraging her to get on the bed every night. (Ginger won't even sleep in the same room at this point, so I've given up on her for now. Besides, she doesn't generate as much heat.)

My bed is a good three feet (at least) off the ground -- Molly can't jump onto it in one standing leap, but there is a chest on the west side of the bed that is almost two feet high that she can climb onto. Yet, every single night when I pat on the bed to invite her up, she tries to leap up directly from the floor and falls back down. I have to pat the chest first, wait for her to get on it, and then pat the bed. Every single night.

Exhibit B:

Like all dogs, Molly loves cat food. If I have cat food on a paper plate and it falls on the floor, she's the first one there. And if it lands face up, she'll lick it clean immediately. She's even figured out that if she keeps her foot on it, the plate will stay in one place.

The problem is that if the plate lands upside down, she stands on it first, then tries to turn it over. Like so:

Eventually she starts tearing strips off it so she can at least lick part of the plate clean. It leads to things like this:

(I interrupted her before she was done...)

So yeah, not a rocket scientist, this dog.

On the other hand, she's in good company. Here's a jar of pickled ginger I bought tonight:

And the nutritional information:

How many 1 oz servings are in the 8 oz container? Really?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shake It Up Baby!

Apparently today there was some sort of simulated earthquake emergency to test preparedness or something -- I'm not really sure because I didn't see a whole lot about it in the news, and when it came time for it, some idiot was trying to burn down the local mall. And there was other important stuff going on, like conference calls.

I'm not saying I don't have respect for the damage an earthquake can do. I remember my parents lining us up next to the stairway before dawn when I was a child. I don't actually remember the earth shaking at that point (1972 maybe? I think there was a big earthquake near LA that year) but it must have been quite an event or I wouldn't remember it 38 years later. I've missed most of the other big ones, although I once was on the eleventh floor of a building in San Diego when a small earthquake hit, and the swaying was a little scary.

The thing about earthquakes, though, is that they happen, and then they're pretty much done (apart from the aftershocks at least). There's no hours of listening to the house lashed by gale force winds, or days of weather forecasts. One minute you're going about your normal business, and the next you're kicking yourself for not bolting the bookcases to the walls after eight years, and then you're either fine, or you're not, but the earth is done moving and it's time to call everyone you know.

After living in California most of my life, I don't even think about where to store things any more. If it's heavy, it stays below knee level unless it's bolted to the wall. There's absolutely nothing in my bedroom that could fall on me except the ceiling. (The chances of the ceiling falling, however, are non-negligible, especially if I don't get the hole in the roof fixed this year.)

I didn't realize how much that affected me until I moved to Louisiana, and I kept going into friends' houses and feeling really uncomfortable. It finally dawned on me that it was because my friends (none of whom came from California) stored heavy, breakable objects on top of cabinets right next to the sofas. None of the bookcases were secured to the walls. It made me cringe every time I went into the room.

My earthquake supplies, though, are a different matter. If the big one hits on a Monday or Tuesday, I'll have enough Diet Coke to keep me hydrated until I can find water (or more Diet Coke). Intellectually I know that I'm supposed to keep a three day supply of water, food, clothing, pet food, etc in the garage, but let's face it -- in any earthquake, my garage is going to be the first thing that goes.

So... all you folks that live in California, check your emergency supplies and make sure you have enough for me too. And everyone that lives in other places... y'all are crazy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

"... but I wish you brought me a present."

Once again, it was time for Jeff and me to pretend we have artistic talent and the ability to decorate a cake. Last year we stepped into the ring with the Pancho the Storm Trooper head. This year the birthday boy said we had to make a Kraken (which is a mythical sea monster that looks a lot like a huge octopus/squid, for those unfamiliar with the term).

Once again we went with the Rice Krispies treat base covered by marshmallow fondant.

We needed something to help hold the tentacle form while it was warm, and the beer bottle was the closest available object. That should say something...

Jeff was able to bury his perfectionist streak a little better this year, or maybe things just went a little more smoothly this time. The fondant was certainly easier to work with this year -- probably something to do with switching to a recipe that actually told you what to do with all of the ingredients.

Eric didn't believe me when I told him I was going to buy a spray can of food coloring. Here's the proof:

And here's the final product:

There were a few naysayers who kept pointing out that the Kraken only had five tentacles. To those people I have these responses (take your pick):
1) Show me a picture of this mythical creature that proves it has eight tentacles.
2) There are three tentacles still underwater (and thus not visible).
3) It used to have eight tentacles, but three were bitten off in previous epic battles.

Anyhow, it was fun to see family and friends at the party although I remain pretty much horrified that it is acceptable and even expected for a six year old with a house full of toys to receive hundreds of dollars of new toys. Of course, now that the birthday boy can actually remember my name, he's also capable of remembering that I didn't bring him a present...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I have the answer!

Apparently Timmy the emerald crab has a bit of OCD. Or he's shy. Either way, he's been sitting in the narrow space between two rocks (neither of which has any bubble algae) for the better part of a week. He's not dead -- I checked. I might need to get another one to give him some competition or something.

I got home today and found a big box of vegetarian marshmallows (from Sweet & Sara) on my doorstep, which means that the Kraken-cake (for the six year old's birthday party this weekend) can be gelatin free. I had to try a couple and let me say, they taste exactly how they should. I also got a couple packs of "specialty" flavors. Two words: peppermint chocolate. Hot cocoa is going to be good and guilt-free this year.

I'm now working at home two days a week (and after today's lunchtime conversation, Rvan almost made me work at home the other three days, too...). The great thing about working from home is that I can sit in a holey shirt and sweatpants, and listen to music. I realize that this is how Eric is at work, but I'm a consummate professional and I wear jeans to work.

Anyway, the new music this week is the album $O$ by Die Antwoord, a "zef"-style rap/hip-hop group from South Africa.

First off, let me say that I don't listen to a lot of rap. I'm pretty sure this qualifies as hip-hop because that's the category it's in and besides, they mention every band member in every single song.

I've never purchased an album with a little red "Explicit" warning next to every single song. Even the digital liner notes have an "Explicit" warning. But somehow I was exposed to a few of their songs (certainly not on the radio, because they would have to take out 90% of the lyrics) and there's something there that I like. The video for Evil Boy is visually stunning. (Please don't track it down at work and blame me when you get fired. It's really, really not safe for work. Really.)

Sure, one could argue that I have nothing in common with South African rappers, but let's face it -- if I have to limit my music to white women in their forties with multiple cats who write software and have a degree in veterinary medicine... it's going to be slim pickings.

Shockingly, there aren't any words on the album that I didn't know. Can you imagine that? Actually, that's a lie. There are all sorts of words on the album that I didn't know, but they're in Afrikaans or (some other language that I don't know and am too lazy to go look up).

The main thing I love about this band is the humor. They don't take themselves too seriously. In "She Makes Me A Killer" the male singer (known as "Ninja" -- see, they really don't take themselves seriously at all) talks about the problems he's having with women:
- The first one dumps him because he takes her home and she finds out he lives with his mother.
- The second one sleeps with him on the first date, then goes psycho when he's at the next gig signing "Ninja was here" on another fan's chest.
- The third one attacks him because they're getting hot and heavy when someone walks in and he offers her to his friend -- he explains "I thought Barney said 'Sharing is caring'?" (Yes, that's Barney as in Barney the purple dinosaur.)

The other singer is Yo-landi Va$er -- she looks like a schoolgirl with a weird mullet, but she has an impressive sound. If you read stuff on the web about this band, one of the complaints is that this group can't be "authentic" because Yo-landi may have (gasp!) a college degree... I say there are enough stupid people in the world (cf. Insane Clown Posse and the Juggalos); I don't need to disqualify people because they have brains.

Anyhow, they you have it, my mini-review of the new Die Antwoord album. I think it's a lot of fun, but I realize that many people won't agree. They can go back to their Celine Dion albums and ignore this.

Now I just need to make sure that I don't start singing anything under my breath while I'm concentrating on something else...

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A little crabby

I've had this little problem with bubble algae in the nano-reef, and it looked like it was starting to become a big problem. Bubble algae looks exactly like it sounds -- little green balls all over the place. They're actually pretty cool looking, but when they started crowding out the coral I figured it was time to do something.

The most common recommendation I found was to get an emerald crab. I did a little digging and emerald crabs are supposed to eat bubble algae and more importantly, most people agree that they're reef-safe. I didn't want to get something that would snack on the coral in between bites of the algae.

After four calls (which involved being transferred a total of eleven times) and three weeks, the local chain store outlet was able to get an emerald crab for me. It's pretty big and it was running all over the place in the bag, so I figured it was reasonably healthy.

This crab has been in the tank for about four hours now. I think it might be... special. In a short bus sort of way. The first thing it did was eat a bunch of sand. Then it climbed around on the rocks trying to get the copepods which darted away. While climbing around, it walked all over the bubble algae, but I have yet to see it do anything with it.

So, yeah, someday soon I'll get a picture of the new emerald crab.

His name is Timmy.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hear today, yawn tomorrow

Things you might have heard if you followed me around all week (stalker!)...

Me, to my dog while on a walk: Why don't you poop on the lawn of the Catholic church instead? I have nothing against the Seventh Day Adventists.

(At work, after listening to the guy with the incredibly loud voice explain the problem multiple times to different people in different areas of the building)
Jon: Does he think they didn't hear it the last time?
Me: I should just go fix the problem.
Jon: Really?
Me: Yeah, it's just a perl script. I could have fixed it already while he was talking.
Jon: Oh, I thought you meant you were going to fix the problem with surgery.

(While I was complaining about the band Cake)
Me: They're a one trick pony, and it's not even a particularly interesting trick.
Jeff: What's one of their songs?
Rvan: (Some random humming)
Jeff: How about one with lyrics.

The really loud guy, while talking in an office not too far away: If you have the balls to put in a non-editable field, you better be damned sure the value is correct.
Rvan, from the other side of the cubicle: Theresa, did you hear that?
Me: La la la la la.

See? Way better than that damned reality tv. I should get paid to document this stuff...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ladders and Crutches

As everyone knows, I'm not a big fan of ladders, corporate or otherwise.

In fact, this is really the best way to use one:

Tip of the week: If you order a stereo component from Crutchfield online, make absolutely sure that your car model has been entered. Otherwise, they will attempt to be helpful by sending you a connector and wires for you to solder together to fit whatever car you may have.

It's much easier when they send you something that is already wired for your car. And as a bonus they will send you a fact sheet with instructions on how to take your car apart and put it back together.

Jeff and I, however, no longer need that instruction sheet. We've taken apart the console on my car so many (three) times now, and each time we leave more screws and clips out when we put it back together. Now you can take the whole console out by just pulling it the right way. That's much easier.

Sure, one of these days I'll accelerate a little too hard and end up with my stereo in the back seat, but that will be a clear sign that it's time to buy a new car.

That new car had better come with a good stereo pre-installed...