Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Katsu loves us and is always thinking of us...

Katsu may not be much of a lap cat, but she is "the smart one".  She is the one who will remove her furry butt from the counter when you give her a look and say, "Kaaatsuuuu" in a low menacing voice.  Her brother and sister just sit there looking at you until you physically remove them.  She is the cat who will look to see if her brother's fur and bits of clay are in the water before she drinks.  She is the one who will sniff something BEFORE she eats it...

Last night The Bearded One was topping off the litter in the cat boxes.  When he does this, he always closes the laundry room door so that he doesn't attract "helpers".  Last night, both Stubble and I opened the door to the laundry room while he was absorbed in the task at hand and he didn't notice when Katsu entered.  To be completely honest, Stubble and I didn't notice either until Katsu approached the pail of unused litter.  She daintily and delicately climbed into the pail, arranged herself appropriately, and peed.  Entirely within the pail.  After all, what is a little cat to do when a big person is completely blocking her access to the litter.  Then she daintily and delicately burried her business.  Stubble and I were laughing so hard that we couldn't do anything about it, not that we wanted to disturb her before she was completely finished.  The Bearded One was less amused, "Why didn't you keep the door closed?  Then this would never have happened!"

Stubble and I continued to laugh, using the door jamb and the walls respectively, to hold ourselves up.  The Bearded One just compressed his lips and continued with his task, replacing the covers on the litter boxes.

Time passed.  It was now bedtime.

Katsu is not known for her delicate tummy.  That honor would belong to her sister, Kimiko.  But last night, she felt a little disturbance and rather than messing up the carpet, she (daintily and delicately) climbed into the laundry basket full of the clean whites that I had just finished drying and folding.  Then she threw up more kibble that one could have expected to fit into a little cat stomach.  It was gross and disgusting.  On the other hand, it was not on the carpet and it is easier by far to dump a laundry basket full of socks and underwear back into the washing machine than it is to clean the carpet.

Katsu loves us and is always thinking of us...

Friday, January 20, 2012


We have been looking at real estate lately.  Considering the stellar trends in the stock market and the looming European debt crisis, property (of just the right sort) seems a sane investment.
We have seen many, many properties over the last months.  It is very much like HGTV when they are hunting houses and say things like, "We've seen almost 200 houses and nothing is just exactly right!"  And then on the show they highlight 3 of them, at least one of which it totally unrealistic for the buyers.
We have seen probably 225 houses, beating the HGTV record to flinders.  Some as "drive bys" where we are looking at the neighborhood and some as "open houses of opportunity" where we are just out running errands and spot the tell tale balloons on a Sunday afternoon.
We have seen everything from total wrecks; bathed in dog poo, pizza boxes and crumbling retaining walls to beautifuly maintained showplaces that are obviously very much loved.  We have bumped into the same selling agent numerous times to the point where she said, "You guys again!  Haven't you found anything yet?"
Our house hunt has covered everything from income property to McMansions to buildable lots.  Our criteria has shifted from "anything" to locations limited by freeway access and commuting times to a realistic assessment of renovation/repair costs.

We saw one very "special" property that I will describe:  It had excellent freeway access.  It was well within our price range.  The architecture was such that Stubble announced something to the effect of , "This is the kind of place the I would design for myself"..,.
3500 square feet with 3 bedrooms and 3.5 baths, it was perched on a hillside in a lovely neighborhood of "custom" homes (not mansions, just really nice places) and it had views straight from postcards.

Walking the property we were impressed.  Very little other than adding grass seed and water and a new deck railing was needed...then we walked inside...

In the parts of the house where there was carpet it was pulled back to reveal a cracked slab that was settling ominously.  The three full bathrooms all featured standing water in the showers - and a hole where the toilet was supposed to be. We joked that the tiled tub in the master bedroom would make a good koi pond if we just added a liner and a pump.

The kitchen was missing built in appliances and an island.  The two feet of electrical conduit that was sticking up in the middle of the space was a dead give away.  Another special feature was the half bath with floor to ceiling windows with no window treatments overlooking the neighbor's driveway.

Even though nothing was turned on, you could hear the sounds of running water (under the slab?).

Even though we all "liked" the house, as a group we determined that we wouldn't take it even if somebody offered it to us for free like an abandoned kitten....."House.  Free to a Good Home".

House Hunting - The Saga Continues.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Would You Like Fries with That?

I try really hard not to eat too much fast food, but on certain days of the week when I am running from work to grocery store to home (to drop off the groceries) to meeting to rehearsal; I break down and grab a burger.  If I am really weak, I order "fries with that".  I long ago learned what a really good fry tastes like...and if I order them, my deal with myself is this:  If they don't taste excellent enough to risk losing 5 minutes of my life, I just won't eat them.

I used to work fast food.  That is how I earned my spending money in college - I night managed a place famous for it's specialty drinks that, unlike many of its counterparts, had a grill and deep frier.  I also had a boss who was very particular about his french fries.

To make a good fry:
1)  Do NOT use old grease.  Even STRAINED old grease.  The fries will get too brown before they are done cooking and people will complain that their fries are "burned".  Of course they will complain when their fries are perfect looking but not completely cooked; but if they are using a drive through, they are usually long gone when they figure this out, so what the heck.
2)  Get your grease HOT enough - otherwise the fries will be soggy and greasy beyond belief.
3)  DO NOT put fries and fish into the same oil.  JUST DON'T.
4)  Cook the fries LONG enough.  It takes around 5 minutes to cook a shoestring fry if you are using new grease that is the proper temperature...cutting down on the time to increase the volume of fries produced and served will not do anything for customer satisfaction.

To conclude: A Perfect Fry - one that makes me willing to take the risk of early death - is light golden brown.  Perfectly crisp on the outside and hot and soft of the inside, it stays hot until the end of the meal and tastes ONLY like potato without a hint of grease and with just a hint of sea or seasoned salt. Anything else just goes into the trash.

The fast food chain at which I "dined" last night - the same one that has been advertising their "new tastier fries" - completely missed the boat.  The "new tasty fries" were wrong on all counts - greasy, soggy, undercooked and within a minute, cold as well - all but two of them are now in the trash...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Holy Crap! What are you going to write?

My family found out well after the fact that I had a blog.  I did it in secret.  I didn't discuss it with anybody except my alter-ego, "my evil twin, Jennifer" who encouraged me in the name of sanity to write something, ANYTHING.  Jennifer felt that it would be healthy for me (I mean "us") to have a creative outlet.  She warned me not to tell anyone.

But I did.  Tell someone, that is.  I told the Bearded One.  About a month or so into it I was sitting at the breakfast bar typing.

"Email?" he asked.

"No, blogging," I replied, offhand and very casually.

"YOU HAVE A BLOG!???" he responded.  Obviously completely unconcerned at the prospect.  "I'll bet you spend all of your time bitching about your job and us." 
That last bit was a strict declarative sentence rather than a question in disguise.

Feeling the need to reassure him, I let him read a couple of entries.  Specifically this one and this one.
"Oh, that's cute.  But you didn't mention...." was his response.

I followed that up by reassuring him that I would remain anonymous, that I didn't WANT our relatives to know all about my writing as it really was creative rather than newsworthy, and that I knew VERY WELL that writing about employers could get one into deep, deep trouble.

Once knowing that I wasn't saying mean things about him, he completely forgot about the blog.  Everything about it.  Including the title.

On occasion, I do let him read an entry before I post it.  Usually when he is sitting the the room while I type.  He invariably has a few things of his own to add.  Which is fine with me.  My evil twin Jennifer tells me that he needs a creative outlet too.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Clean vs. Organized

So much for my abilities as a nag...

The conversation went something like this:

Me:  "So why isn't your room clean?
Stubble:  "It is."
Me:  "No it isn't.  There is crap all over the bed and stacks of CDs all over the place."
Stubble:  "That is organization.  I thought you said that you wanted it CLEAN."
Me  "I DID!"
Stubble: "Then why didn't you say so."
Me: (mentally beating my forehead on the doorjab (repeatedly)) "Here is a tub for all of the CDs in your room.  The bunch on the dresser fell on the cat."

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Because It's What I Do Best (part 2)


I am really a champ at nagging.  The National Superbowl of Nagging Champion, actually.  Because I am, at heart, altruistic, I would like to take this opportunity to share all that I have learned over the years:

Nagging works best when used sparingly:
A neverending barrage just sets the compliance bar higher.  It is like escalation in warfare - at a certain point nothing works but annihilation (and then who would you share holiday dinners with?).

Nagging works best when done quietly:
The shouted "How many times do I have to say this..." only causes the stereo (or TV or Xbox) to be turned up...and once you have expended all of that energy, you won't have it any in reserve for the long haul.

Nagging, done properly is better torture than fingernails on a chalkboard:
It is incessant.  It is intermittent.  (both excellent psychological concepts and not at all as contradictory as they may at first seem).  Eventually making it stop and keeping it from starting again is all that matters.

The latest "topic" for the nagging is clean bedrooms.  The Bearded One set one holiday task for Ms. Flippers and Stubble...
Get their bedrooms cleaned up so that the doors can be open and the cats can get in (without doing damage to their furry little selves or the bedroom contents).  The way that The Bearded One accomplishes this is to fret about the issue for a few days while letting me know that he is fretting and exactly what he is fretting about.  Then there comes a time when the volcano begins to spew...
"How many times do I have to say this...."
"Is it too much to ask..."
Once the initial eruption is over, if they wait long enough while doing nothing, it all blows over.

This vacation, I got involved.  Witness a master in action...

Me:  "If you get the room clean, I'll vaccuum."

1/2 hour later
Me:  "I'm starting a load of wash, I need everything off the floor.  If it is on the floor and isn't dirty, it needs to be in the dresser"

1/2 hour later
Me:  "Can I vaccuum yet?"
1/2 hour later  
Me:  "How about now?  Are you ready for me to vaccuum?"

1/2 hour later
Me:  "I'm starting another load in the washer.  Do I have everything?"

1/2 hour later
Me:  "Can I run the vaccuum yet?"

Sooner or later (usually sooner) the clothes start arriving in the laundry room and I am told, "I can do the vaccuuming - you don't need to bother."

 1/2 hour later

"Can I put the vaccuum away now?"