Posted on October 16th, 2019
When I first moved into my home, I was ecstatic about having a garage. Not only for the covered parking... but all the extra space available to me. It was a luxury I hadn't experienced before. All of a sudden I could buy stuff in bulk to save money. I could have a collection of tools beyond a hammer and screwdriver. I could store wood and other building materials. I could have my winter tires with me instead of having to beg for space from a friend. It was a Very Big Deal. And I thought I'd never be able to fill it all up.
Yeah, I was adorable back then, wasn't I?
Of course I managed to fill it up.
Which is fine when my garage is functioning as a wood shop... but not so fine when I need it to fuction as a garage. This year I had to shove my table saw, canister vacuum, table router, and a bunch of wood boards and other stuff to the front of my garage because there was no room left to put them anywhere else. Which leaves me with less space for parking, and that's tricky. If I pull in too far, I can't get around my car. If I don't pull in far enough, I risk the garage door coming down on my back bumper.
I thought I'd eventually get a "feel" for how far to drive in. But I still can't get to the right spot consistently. And so I hung a washer from my garage door opener to help out. When the washer hits my windshield, I stop. It works perfectly...
I've already thrown out So. Much. Stuff... and my mantra when I run out of space is to get rid of even more. Marie Kondo's KonMari book has been a huge help in reorganizing the stuff in my life after the deaths of my grandmother and my mom, so it looks like I'll be giving it another read-through before tackling my garage yet again.
Hopefully the next thing to go won't be my car.
Posted on October 15th, 2019
I'm an adult and I get to do adult stuff whenever I want... like having a hamburger for breakfast!
Back when I was very young, my family lived within a short distance to the local A&W hamburger drive-in. We didn't eat out a lot... eating out is expensive... but this just made the burgers all the more special. And boy were this burgers special. Sometimes, especially after we moved to a neighboring town and had to drive there, we'd eat in the car. I vividly remember sitting in the backseat with my brother... waiting for the car-hop to attach that big metal tray with the webbed orange liner to the driver-side window... then waiting for my parents to pass back that magical foil bag which had my burger in it... and a big frosty mug of A&W root beer, of course.
A&W had PapaBurger, MamaBurger, TeenBurger, and BabyBurger... and the foil bags used to have a cartoon printed on the front to tell you what was inside. You can still find them floating around eBay for sale...
Photo taken from WorthPoint whom I'm guessing took it from eBay?
I started with the BabyBurger, which had a smaller burger patty on it. Then one day I felt I was grown up enough to graduate to the TeenBurger, so I ordered that. It came with cheese and bacon on it and it was the best thing I had ever eaten. And even though I use a veggie burger patty with soy "bacon" now, I still love cheese and bacon on my burger and I owe it all to the A&W.
Sometimes we wouldn't eat in the car... especially when we lived close-by and could walk there. We'd sit inside the restaurant on a big orange booth seat at one of those wooden-looking laminate tables with the metal edges on it. On those occasions when I was still very young, I wouldn't be handed over a magical foil bag... mom would instead take the BabyBurger out of the bag, cut it in half for me, set it on the bag, then slide it across the table.
I don't know why.
If I could handle a whole burger when eating in the backseat of the car, then why couldn't I handle it when dining in the restaurant? Why cut it in half for me then? Just one of many, many things which will remain forever a mystery.
Isn't it terrible how many things you think of to ask somebody after they're gone and you're no longer able to ask?
This morning when I was an adult and having a hamburger for breakfast, I looked at it sitting there on the plate... took out a knife... and cut it in half, almost without thinking about it. Something I don't think I've ever done before in my entire life...
And suddenly I'm not an adult any more.
I'm just a little kid sitting in the A&W restaurant with my burger wanting his mom.
I don't know why some memories are so vivid in my mind where others have faded. I don't know how it is that I am able to remember something that happened when I was so young. I don't know what it is about eating at the A&W that makes it so unforgettable. I guess how our minds choose what to archive is just another mystery.
As is what happened to my old battered A&W mug that was bought for a quarter and sat in my cupboard for... like... forever. Did it break? Did I lose it? Did I throw it out? Did mom throw it out? I dunno. But I do know that A&W has an online merchandise shop where I can probably buy another one.
And, holy crap, did you know that it's their 100th anniversary this year?!?
Boy, I could sure go for a frosty mug of A&W root beer right about now.
UPDATE: While I was trying to fall asleep, I Googled for an image of the old A&W that I used to eat at when I was a kid. One photo came up, but it was from an expired Panoramio account and Panoramio has shut down... so I have no idea if this is actually the restaurant, who to credit the photo to, or whom to ask about it. This would be the view looking away from the restaurant towards the drive-in stalls and the parking lot. It certainly looks like it could be my old A&W...
The awning over the stalls... the menu-boards... it all looks much like I remember. What gives me pause is the price on the billboard of $849 (assumably $8.49) for an all you can eat shrimp dinner. That seems high for the era that my A&W existed. The cars also look too modern. I think the local drive-in A&W was torn down before this was taken? Maybe not. Another thing I question is the entrance here... from this direction, I think the entrance would have been on the right side of the photo. And I want to say that our stalls were straight instead of at an angle like this? In any event, this is definitely the kind of experience I so vividly remember, even if it's not the actual restaurant.
Posted on October 14th, 2019
Ugh. Where do I even start?
Bad enough that I didn't get to relax this past weekend. Bad enough that the Fall Harvest movie marathon on Hallmark are all movies I've already seen. Bad enough I have to put up with shitty people trotting out "HAPPY COLUMBUS DAY!" not because they care about Christopher Columbus, but because they want to piss off people who know the brutal truth: the guy was a mass-murdering psychopath, sadistic butcherer, serial enslaver, and overall fucking horrendous bastard who didn't "discover" jack-shit.
And, oh yeah, bad enough that I didn't get much sleep last night.
But that was just a warm-up for what was to follow...
Here's my Monday morning, assuming you care to read about my series of misfortunate events...
Guess these jars aren't as tough as they look. I didn't even close the lid tightly...
And if you think that this was the end of my Monday woes, I got news for you... it wasn't. Now that it's getting colder, I am getting more and more worried about Fake Jake, who isn't as young as he used to be. I worry that the cold might be harder on him as he ages, so I've been trying to find a door for the igloo shelters I put up for him... thinking it might keep more heat inside. Alas, I haven't been able to find any, even though the shelter has holes drilled for one. This morning I finally got a reply from the company who makes it...
Wait... FROSTED?!? Surely they offer a flap in CLEAR, right? Alas, nope. So I wrote back...
Thank you for your reply. I am, however, dumbfounded that the only door flap you make for the Kitty Kat Condo is FROSTED! It’s already hard enough to get a cat to go into a shelter with only one exit because cats don’t like to feel trapped. The only thing that makes it tolerable is that they can look outside if they hear something out there. Your door flap being opaque makes this impossible, and has me wondering why anybody would buy it when a frosted flap will just make cats reluctant to go into the shelter in the first place! Oh well. Guess I get to try and make something myself.
I suppose I know what my next project with be when I finally get some free time. Assuming I manage to get some free time.
And keep in mind that all this happened before I started work! The rest of my day was shaping up to be no picnic, I tell you what.
Lastly, just because people apparently need a fucking reminder...
And that's a sanitized version of all the sociopathic shit he did.
Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, everybody.
Posted on October 10th, 2019
As usual when I return from a trip, my cats have been taking turns glomming all over me. Poor Jake acts like I've been gone for years, and will sleep on my bed for two or three nights before things get back to whatever passes for "normal" in my house.
Though at some point in the middle of the night, he left me long enough to go downstairs and grab Mufasa and Moose the Mule and bring them upstairs. I went to take a photo of them when I woke up this morning and was surprised that iPhone decided to use the flash instead of Night Mode. The flash washes everything out, so I turned it off and Night Mode kicked in, giving much better results. Apple needs to work on this. Maybe the camera should know how to cut back on flash and create some kind of “Half Night Mode” for cases like this? Just a little flash on top of Night Mode would have cut down on grain, but preserved color fidelity and detail. Oh well. Until that day, I’ll just keep the flash turned off. It just seems to ruin things...
I don't know what's going on with my cats and their toys. When I got home from work yesterday, I walked in the door to this...
I don't know what chain of events led up to it. Maybe Jake did Jenny wrong, so she took Mufasa away from him and was going to ship him back to Africa? Silly cats.
Yesterday I made potato salad (again) and it was the first thing I thought of for breakfast when the cats' feeding alarm went off...
As I was taking my tater salad back to bed so I could go through my email and get some work done, I noticed that my thermostat was glaring at me. Apparently it's time to turn on the whole-home humidifier...
I would have turned it on right then, but all my woodworking tools are piled in front of it, so I guess that will have to wait until the weekend.
When I managed to get back up to my work, my laptop let me know that the final version of MacOS X "Catalina" dropped while I was in New Orleans (I've been running the betas since they were first released)...
There goes my morning productivity. Fortunately Jenny came up after her breakfast and kept me company while I waited...
As usual with Apple, first there's a time to download screen... followed with a time to install screen... followed with a time to update screen. Which not only made it so I couldn't get any work done, it make it so I was late to the office. Yay.
Just another Thursday morning.
Posted on September 27th, 2019
Facebook has a features called "Memories" which allows you to revisit posts for the day of years past. Most of the time, it's kinda cool to look back and see what was happening last year... three years ago... five years ago... and so on. Other times? Not so much.
A year ago today I was burying my mother.
It's weird... very weird... to think back to that day.
She had died three months prior, but it took a while for her marker to be made and shipped from the Veteran's Affairs office. I ultimately decided to go with the free marker they provide to veterans because the local funeral home had gone out of business and I just didn't want to shop for another one. Also? I really liked the simplicity of it all...
Placing that marker was symbolic of so many things.
For the previous three months I had been in a constant state of stress and anxiety. Closing out accounts. Paying off bills. Writing thank you notes. Sending out death certificates. Disposing of possessions. — It's a million and one things and it seems like it will never, ever end.
Except it really doesn't, of course.
It was never a sprint, it was always a marathon. And as I sit here one year later, I'm really glad I didn't know this back then or I probably would have gone insane.
Though it's early. I still might.
In the meanwhile, I have cats to keep my mind off things...
A job for which they are exceptionally well-suited.
Posted on September 26th, 2019
This morning I woke up to a news report that there will be a cold snap in the Cascades starting Friday night. Snow is expected to accumulate anywhere from 4 to 10 inches.
Oh hell no. I am not ready for snow.
Now, usually I don't panic on these things, because any snow that lands will melt in short order this early in the season. I'll be driving over in the afternoon and there likely won't be much of anything on the ground. On top of that, I have been driving in the snow all my life and am pretty good at it, so it isn't a concern. And I have chains just in case things get unexpectedly bad.
But my snow tires expired last year which means I have to get new ones this year. This is a definite cause for concern. If you wait too long, it will be slim pickings or... worst case scenario... there will be a waiting list because they're all sold out. Making matters worse, sometimes you can't get an appointment to get your new tires mounted, balanced, and put on your car because the appointments are fully booked.
So this time I ain't waiting.
I made an appointment during my lunch, and away I went. And now my car has pretty new shoes...
If I drove a lot, I would probably have waited a month to save some tread. But I drive so few miles each season that my tires expire long before the tread is too low to be legal, so I figured I'd just beat the rush so I don't have to worry about getting an appointment when the snow hits.
Buying tires is kinda a weird deal. The advice is always "Buy the best tires you can afford!" because so much is (literally) riding on them. I always followed that advice for my mom's car... buying her the absolute best tires I could get, regardless of cost. When it came to my own car I was far less picky. I always bought mid-quality all-weather tires that were half the cost (and I never bought snow tires). When my mom couldn't drive any more, I donated my crappy Saturn to the veterans and took over the car I got her since it was newer and less crappy. It's a cheaper model 2007 Toyota Corolla, but it's clean, dependable, and in great shape. Since I already had the snow tires for it, I went ahead and had them put on.
And was subsequently shocked at how nice it was to drive through snow, slush, and ice with proper winter tires on!
It's so nice that I don't ever want to go back to all-weathers for winter driving, even if that means I have to spend money I don't have to get new ones. Because not having to brake six feet early on icy roads so you don't slide into an intersection is totally worth it. I remember one time I was driving to the airport at 4:30 in the morning and had to turn around and take an alternate route because my car didn't have enough traction to drive my regular route. At the time I was like "Oh well." But now I know this wouldn't have happened if I had winter tires, so driving my mom's car has been a game-changer.
Especially to my wallet.
In other news...
My cats haven't left tributes in a while. This morning I awoke to Blue Ball, Pretzel, Moose the Mule, the skin from a toy that's been ripped off the cat tree (which they brought in from the catio), and a ball of cat hair. No idea what they are wanting. Maybe it's to turn the heat on? I think it must be to turn the heat on...
I kinda miss waking up to find what my cats brought me in the middle of the night. They used to do it in exchange for food, I'm guessing. Because once they were trained to wait for the Alexa alarm, they stopped bringing me stuff. Surprisingly, they know enough to not bring tributes to Alexa. Smart kitties.
I wonder if Jake and Jenny will appreciate that we'll be riding on awesome new winter tires when I take them in for their annual vet checkup in February?
Posted on September 20th, 2019
I've been having a tough time of it lately. I either pulled something in my leg... or twisted something in my leg... or maybe it's a blood clot in my leg... or perhaps nerve damage... I dunno. All I do know is that it feels as though all the bones in my left leg are being broken over and over again. It's excruciating. And sleep has been tough to come by because of it.
My guess is that it will probably have to be amputated. But I suppose that's for a doctor to decide.
Today I was too exhausted and in too much pain to get anything done, so I left work early to drug up, wrap my leg in hot packs, and take a nap.
I don't want to brag, but it was a huge success. I slept so good that there was a cat on me when I woke up. That's some great sleeping right there...
I would have liked to have stayed in bed for the rest of the day, but I have a massive to-do list that I need to be working on before winter arrives.
First up was figuring out why some of my SONOS speakers are showing up as "offline" to Alexa. It happened after the last update and it's been driving me crazy. It's also been driving the cats crazy, because one of the speakers that Alexa can't recognize is the speaker which plays their breakfast and dinner alarms.
A half hour later and I eventually solve the problem by uncoupling my surround sound setup, making all the speakers be individual "rooms," then running "discovery" so Alexa could see all of them again. Then setting up my surround system from scratch again. What a pain in the ass that was.
But that's technology for ya. Making things easier for you while making things more difficult at the same time.
But try explaining that to a cat.
Posted on September 18th, 2019
Today was flu shot day at work.
I got the shots for the longest time... then stopped because I ended up getting the flu a couple times anyway... then started getting shots again when I got a nephew and wanted to do everything I could to not be sick around him. My doctor said that the flu vaccine can't possibly fight every strain of flu, but it can combat some big ones and decrease severity and duration of others... so why not?
Oh... I dunno... BECAUSE I HATE GETTING SHOTS?!?
And I honsetly don't know why.
It's not the needle. That doesn't bother me at all. Tattoos are lots and lots of needles, and I am unphased.
And it's not the shot itself. When I was a kid I had to get three allergy shots a week, so I am unphased.
What I think it is? The stuff they shoot into you.
Despite my head knowing how vaccines work... knowing they are safe... and knowing that I trust science... there's something about knowing they are shooting dead (or weakened) viruses into me that freaks me out! The minute they jab me with that needle, all I can do is imagine that stuff floating through my blood stream... then my immune system going HOLY SHIT! and unleashing a torrent of antibodies to kill it all... and kill it dead (or, more likely, dead-er). Probably because I saw Fantastic Voyage as a kid and it's been in my head ever since...
What's going on inside me right now is disconcerting. I mean, just LOOK at this...
But the alternative? Having all that happen and getting really sick.
No thank you.
So there I was... rolling up my sleeve so I could get shooted.
And here I am now... imagining my antibodies attacking viruses.
I should probably take a couple sleeping pills tonight so I sleep through the battle raging in my body. GO ANTIBODIES! FIGHT! FIGHT! FIGHT!
Posted on September 16th, 2019
Four years ago today my offer was accepted on my condo.
Four years ago two days prior I toured the condo and had my real estate agent make a full-price offer. There would be no negotiating. No back-and-forth. I wanted the deal closed as quickly as possible.
Four years ago three days prior I was looking through real estate websites. Yet again. And I wasn't hopeful. Over a month of searching had turned up nothing. But there it was. A brand new listing for a condo in my old neighborhood. Four doors down from where I grew up. The home wasn't perfect, but the location was ideal. With some remodeling the home could be exactly what I needed and, with some luck, my search was over.
Little did I know that it would be four-and-a-half months of torture before I could move in... but that's another story.
As is the lead-up to four years ago today...
When my mom first started having trouble climbing stairs and walking on carpet at her apartment, I knew it was time to move. There was no way she would be able to safely live in a space where she was in constant danger of falling. Problem is, finding rental housing where I live is difficult even when you have no restrictions. But if you require a single story home with no carpet? Might as well be wanting to live on the moon.
I was left with two options: Buy or Build.
I didn't want to do either, but when you're left with no "option three" you do what you gotta do. I called up somebody I knew who's very good with local real estate and asked her to find me a house I could remodel or land I could build on. Then I purchased a home design software package and got to work.
After a conversation with a friend of a friend on the East Coast who has worked on creating homes for peoples with disabilities, I spent weeks coming up with dozens of floor plans for houses that would be best suited for my mom. Once I narrowed in on a couple designs, I just kept refining them over and over. The idea was to have a large central room with the kitchen, dining, and living room all together, then have the other rooms radiate around that. This simple concept would minimize confusion, because it's hard to get lost in. But something so simple in concept turned out to be far more difficult in reality...
In the above plan, for example, there was no bathroom directly off the main "hub" of the home. That has disaster written all over it, so I had to come up with something different...
And even that had problems. So it was back to the drawing board over and over and over.
Land within the city limits is scarce, but my agent had a lead on some possibilities. And so long as there was a chance, I was going to keep designing homes. Then that listing for my condo popped up and that was the end of my being an architect. It was fun while it lasted.
My mom's health declined far faster than anticipated, so instead of the five years I was hoping for, she only lived with me for 8 months. Then the doctor told me that she needed more care than I could provide on my own and it was over.
My first thought was to sell the condo since it was far more home than I needed (or could really afford). Everybody and their dog advised against it. The costs involved in buying a home and selling a home within a span of a year would be more than if I were to just hold out for a while. And so here I am, still here after all these years.
No lie... mortgage payments and HOA dues are a killer... but I'm happy I stayed.
Maybe one day I'll have to move. Maybe sooner than I'd like. But, in the meanwhile, this place is probably better than I deserve. And I've still got a kitchen remodel I want to work on, so there's that.
Posted on September 13th, 2019
When I get screwed over by a company, I'm pretty unforgiving.
Sometimes it's because their product is total shit and they won't stand behind it, like Panasonic... sometimes it's because the customer service treated me like total shit, like Hewlett Packard (both of which I talk about here).
And sometimes it's because of a reason even I think is stupid, like CorningWare.
When I moved to my new place, I had to buy new everything. New television. New furniture. New cleaning supplies. And... new dishes.
One of the many new dishes I bought was a set of six different-color CorningWare "Meal Mugs." I loved all the CorningWare stuff I had purchased previously, and these looked like a fantastic thing to have...
You can mix, bake, heat, store, freeze, and serve in the things. The cover even has a steam vent for when you microwave. On top of all that, it's dishwasher safe! And they're a good enough size that they're practically a bowl... which is why I like them for soups, pastas, cereals, oatmeal, and even cakes. They're just so beautifully versatile. One of my better purchases, and I love them.
When they arrived they had labels on the front and the back. LABELS THAT WERE ADHERED WITH SOME KIND OF FUCKING SUPER GLUE. I am not even kidding. Peeling off the labels was impossible. Soaking them did nothing. Running them through the dishwasher dozens of times didn't touch them. The only thing that worked was a half-bottle of "Goo Gone" (THE LARGE BOTTLE!) and a plastic scraper. And even then I still feel a patch of label glue on them... TO THIS VERY DAY! So idiotic.
It was so rage-inducing that I never bought another CorningWare product.
This morning as I was unloading the dishwasher, I dropped one of my Meal Mugs. The red one, which is my favorite. I held my breath when it fell because this presented a real quandary. Would I break my ban on CorningWare to get a new one? Do I really want to waste a bottle of Goo Gone and an hour of my time to remove the labels? What does life even mean?
Fortunately, it didn't break after all and I held my breath for nothing.
So I guess I get to kick that can a little further down the road.