I love bacon, but I hate Spam

Despite the fact that I don’t blog all that often right now, I’m certainly fielding a lot of comments. I mean a LOT of comments. Unfortunately, there’s nothing of substance in the whole lot.

I thought that including a simple CAPTCHA would help cull the spam, but it’s done nothing but speed up recently. Here’s three days from my inbox:

Three days' worth of spam comments in my trash folder

Three days’ worth of spam comments in my trash folder

That was a fairly light three days; it’s been two weeks since I’ve cleared out my pending comments, and there are 140 sitting in there.
Clearly, these are real people posting comments, not just spambots. But they may as well be bots, for all the originality they show. Comments tend to come in a few oft-repeated flavors.

The Praise Comment:
Amazing blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere? A theme like yours with a few simple adjustements would really make my blog stand out. Please let me know where you got your design.

You should take part in a contest for one of the finest websites on the net. I will recommend this site!

I’m impressed, I must say. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and engaging, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The problem is something that not enough people are speaking intelligently about. I am very happy I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this. (This comment was left on an American Idol recap post. From 2011.)

The “I Want to Blog Too!” Comment:
Ηοwdy! Τhiѕ іs kіnd of οff topiс but I neеԁ ѕomе help fгom an eѕtаblished blog. Is it haгd tο ѕеt up your оwn blοg?
Ι’m not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast. I’m thinkіng about ѕetting up my own but I’m not sure where to start. Do you have any tips or suggestions? Thank you

Ηi wοulԁ yоu mind letting me know ωhich hostіng company yοu’re utilizing? I’ve loаded your blog in 3 completely ԁifferent web bгοwѕeгѕ and І must say thiѕ blog loads a lot faѕtеr then most. Ϲan you recommend а good hoѕting ρroνidеr at a fаiг price? Thanκ yοu, I appreciate іt!

The Broken Blog Comment:
Hi just wanted to give you a brief heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading properly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different browsers and both show the same results.

Hi there, I believe your site could be having internet browser compatibility issues. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however when opening in Internet Explorer, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to provide you with a quick heads up! Aside from that, great blog!

The What? Huh? What? Comment:
If your fiсtіtіous сharаctеr is lοω on hеalth ρoints, you can fill again it οr fifty-fіfty turgid grοuрs and mаnу weeks can be needeԁ to pass thгough and thrοugh, depending on instrumentаlist skills.
ωаrcгaft thе warcraftak_200604-30 04:52 PMB ettеr ask youг Online plot, it is the virtually poρulaг Оnline plοt іn the chronicle of On-line play. Why should one be penalіzed thіs mіѕchievouѕly if their ship’s company/lawyer decided to grade 15, with a combining of quests and someone sucking grinding.

The safest temperature for just about any electronic device is a lot less than 75 degrees, consequently itrrrs likely relatively good if you are uncomfortable, your machine can be as well. Apple. i – Pads are now the in-thing and having one is a status symbol. (This was on a post about banana bread.)

The Multiple Choice Comment: (I’m only going to give a partial here — the entire thing was four pages when I pasted it into Word)
{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. {It’s|It
is} pretty worth enough for me. {In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners} and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web} will be
{much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting. {Very well|Perfectly|Well|Exceptionally well} written!|
{I will|I’ll} {right away|immediately} {take hold of|grab|clutch|grasp|seize|snatch} your {rss|rss feed} as I {can not|can’t} {in finding|find|to find} your {email|e-mail} subscription {link|hyperlink} or {newsletter|e-newsletter} service. Do {you have|you’ve} any?
{Please|Kindly} {allow|permit|let} me {realize|recognize|understand|recognise|know}
{so that|in order that} I {may just|may|could} subscribe.
Thanks.|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make some plans for the future and {it is|it’s}
time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} read this post and if I could I {want to|wish to|desire to} suggest you {few|some} interesting things or {advice|suggestions|tips}. {Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write next articles referring to this article. I {want to|wish to|desire to} read {more|even more} things about it!|
{It is|It’s} {appropriate|perfect|the best} time to make
{a few|some} plans for {the future|the longer term|the long run} and {it is|it’s} time to be happy. {I have|I’ve} {read|learn} this {post|submit|publish|put
up} and if I {may just|may|could} I {want to|wish to|desire to} {suggest|recommend|counsel} you {few|some} {interesting|fascinating|attention-grabbing} {things|issues} or {advice|suggestions|tips}.
{Perhaps|Maybe} you {could|can} write {next|subsequent} articles {relating to|referring to|regarding} this article.
I {want to|wish to|desire to} {read|learn} {more|even more}
{things|issues} {approximately|about} it!|

Really, a lot of the shorter ones could be lifted wholesale out of the larger ones. At least they’re putting some time into making their multiple choices, as opposed to Lazybones McBigComment here.

Is it any wonder that I’m full of the desire to just nuke this blog from orbit? It’s hard to get back into writing anything when I know that any new post will just be assaulted with this crap.

Spammers, be warned — I’ve taken up a new little hobby. One you may not like.

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Pew! Pew! Pew!

Heavens, it’s been three whole months!

I’ve been a total blog slacker. In fact, I went so long without a post, my advertising banner company dropped me. No big loss; I’ve just put up a rotating Amazon ad, wherein we can get a small commission on purchases. Thanks to those who have emailed and commented about my absence. I’ve been somewhat bound up with a few things as far as writing — a horrible case of too many ideas and the inability to land on one and actually do it. It’s like the opposite of writer’s block, I guess. So the best place to start is a recap of the last quarter.

First off, my health has been up and down, as usual. The vertigo came back in late October, big time. This time I got to go through a series of what they call Epley maneuvers, which are designed to shift the calcium crystals in your ear-tubes around. Some places do this by just having you lie down and twist around, but my ENT place has a specific Epley chair:

Yep, it’s like one of those gyroscope rides at the county fair. It’s used for both diagnosis and treatment. And even though I didn’t have the telltale signs they’d look for in Positional Vertigo (namely, a twitching of the eyes, which they monitor through the goggles), they put me through the whole treatment cycle anyway, since I was already strapped in. I then got a medication that turned me into a zombie, then a second replacement medication that turned me into an even bigger zombie. By the time they prescribed the third medication, the vertigo was on its way out, so we didn’t end up getting it. Hopefully this means that my crystals are realigned and I shouldn’t have any more problems.

Meanwhile! A friend gave us a copy of the game Borderlands, which at first didn’t look all that interesting. Then we started playing it, and I got completely sucked in. Because it’s the best of all possible games for me — an open-world shooter where I can collect all the things.

Even Trouble is fascinated by it. Then they had the gall to release Borderlands 2 in September, and I’ve been playing it now for four months. I’ve played through the storyline around 6 times, and keep working on collecting more guns. Better guns. Cooler guns. Really, it’s a sickness. It’s also the first game I’ve wanted to play multiplayer in, so I finally joined Xbox Gold.

They opened a new Red Robin restaurant 11 miles from our house. Which means we no longer have to travel over an hour to get those burgers, with those fries, with that fry seasoning.

They’ll even wrap your burger in lettuce. They do have a gluten-free bun, which I’ve tried, but it’s kind of a strange texture. And really, it’s just added carbs when the lettuce works just fine. Perhaps this restaurant opening has something to do with the holiday weight I’ve put on.

Speaking of the holidays, they happened.

Sadly, we no longer have the kind of lights that our old Trek ornaments can connect to. I guess after 20 years, they were bound to design different sockets.

During the holiday season, when we went to a Barnes and Noble to find a calendar, we happened upon a few of Scott’s books on the humor shelf:

That was really nice to see. Quite a few friends have sent us pictures of the 2013 Basic Instructions calendar in their local Barnes and Noble stores, so that’s also really nice. Sounds like the calendars have done well.

January came, and I got to spend a day in the emergency room.

Just like a couple of years ago, I went in with chest pain, nausea, lightheadedness, and the feeling that I couldn’t get a deep enough breath. I was sure it wasn’t my heart, but the regular doctor wouldn’t see me unless I got my heart checked out at the ER first.

As suspected, the old ticker is great. Both it and my lungs get a clean bill of health. which then begs the question, what the hell is wrong with me? It was kind of like the panic attacks I’d get from the vertigo, but somewhat different. My regular doctor now has me trying proton pump inhibitors, because the next most likely thing it could be is GERD. I have been burping a lot lately. We also agreed that whatever is physically wrong with me, anxiety undoubtedly makes things worse. So now we’re in the diagnostic phase, where we try to figure out: is it a physical problem which can be fixed, thus ending the need for panic attacks? Or is it anxiety, which then gives me physical manifestations?

I’m sure there will be a lot more tests in my future. But at least I’m not having vertigo right now.

I’ll leave you with some gardening. I finally got a Meyer lemon tree, since the tree I have that’s labeled as Meyer lemon is actually a lime tree. They’re both flowering like crazy (here’s the lime tree):

So if it turns out that I have GERD, growing acidic citrus is the perfect hobby.

Fancy Tea-Drinking: Bag ‘Em, Danno

Now that I’m totally hooked in the habit of drinking fancy tea made from big-ass leaves, I’d like to have some at work. Unfortunately, I don’t think the IngenuiTEA brewing device will work so well, since you have to rinse the wet leaves out into a sink. And I think we can all agree, workplace sinks really aren’t built to take that kind of matter down the pipes.

So, I invested a whopping six dollars into some empty tea bags. I got these Loose Tea Filter Bags from Amazon. Yes, they can be had for way cheaper elsewhere, but with the Prime shipping, I got them in two days. I’m sure if I were still in Seattle, we’d just go to Uwajimaya and find a selection there, but sadly here in Florida, I have no idea where I’d go.

Now we have 100 of these little guys. They pack flat, then fold out with a fairly wide bottom so they can sit on the countertop as you fill them with leaves:

Once you put in the leaves, there’s a sizeable flap that you fold over the top, so the leaves stay in place. There’s also a second, smaller flap on the inside, so it’s double-protected. And as you can see from the shadow of the leaves inside, there’s going to be plenty of room for the tea to bloom and expand inside this bag. This is one heaping teaspoon, and it barely covers the base of the bag.

I don’t know if it was just this one bag, since I’ve only used them once, but when I plopped it into the cup and poured hot water over the top, the bag rose so that one tiny, empty corner was sticking up out of the water. I thought that was terribly considerate and kind of the bag, so it could be easily removed without the string-and-tab system of a normal tea bag. And as you can see, the tea is dark and vibrant; no problems at all with the flow through the bag.

I fished it out by the handy little floaty-corner, and it turns out that when wet, the paper’s texture is more crinkly and firm than expected. Which means that the water drained out right away, and I wasn’t left with a soaked bag full of tea and solids — once the bag came out, there was barely any extra liquid inside at all.

Perhaps it’s because these aren’t actually made of paper — the back of the bag says they’re made of polyester. Fascinating! But they drain so well, I don’t even feel the urge to squeeze the bag. (Don’t squeeze the bag!)

These will make it terribly handy to tote a bag or two to work with me, so I can have an easy cup of deliciousness.

Fancy Tea-Drinking: A Little Teavana Review

I have a lot of teas to review, so I figured I’d break them up by source. That also gives me a chance to write about the tea-buying experience with each supplier, which I think is an essential part of the process.

First up is Teavana. They have a large website that’s fairly easy to navigate, but they also have stores in malls and shopping districts throughout North America — there are certainly fewer stores in Canada and Mexico than in the USA, but there are still a goodly number in both countries. There are 21 locations in Florida, and a mere 7 in Washington. But that’s not surprising, since national chains always seem to get to Washington after hitting everywhere else first.

I have not yet used their website to place an order, but I have created a user ID there so I could build a wish list. I’ve also reviewed a tea there, but in order to review a tea, you need to connect with your Facebook account, instead of using your Teavana account. Which is weird.

We visited two of the Orlando-area stores: Florida Mall and the Mall at Millenia. (Yes, they spell millenia wrong. It’s Florida.) We visisted one of those stores (Millenia) on two different days, and got to experience two different employees. At both stores, we had similar experiences — clearly, the sales staff works on commission, because they have a slightly frantic delivery and try to get you to buy as many teas as possible, while also trying to get you interested in the more expensive teas.

On our very first visit, we explained that we were total tea novices, and wanted to try some samples. Teavana, however, does not have a sample program of any kind — the smallest amount of any tea that you can buy is two ounces, and their prices are based on a cost-per-two-ounces. Two ounces really isn’t all that much, unless you end up not liking the tea, in which case it’s an ounce and three quarters too much. Depending on how much tea you put in each eight-ounce cup of water, two ounces of leaves should get you 25-30 cups of tea.

On our first visit, we purchased three teas, two ounces of each. (We also got three teas on our most recent trip.) The staff will try to sell you their airtight metal tins, promising that without them, your tea will go stale and flavorless immediately. We managed to convince them that we had tins already, so we could just get the tea in bags. They’re the same paper fold-over bags you can get coffee in. We’re keeping our most recent teas wrapped up tightly in those bags, and then the bags are kept in the tins. Seems to be working fine.

Everything at Teavana appears to be about the concept of blending multiple teas together, to make the flavors of other things. We were asked if we like apple pie. Of course, the answer was yes. The fellow then started to pull THREE tins of tea down from the shelf, telling us that combining these three would give us a tea that tasted just like apple pie. One of the teas we already had, and one of them, when I smelled it by itself, was not pleasant (several of their teas have lemongrass in them, and I’m not a fan of lemongrass). So we passed on that blend. There were another two teas that, when combined, were supposed to taste like banana bread. We were already getting one of the teas, and they each smelled good on their own, so we went ahead and got both.

I was fascinated by the fact that the commissioned sales guy needed to be dealt with kind of forcefully. Our most recent visit, I went in with a list I’d made from perusing the website. He’d pull a tea down from the shelf, pop the lid, and wave it over the top so we could smell it. If I made a grimacing face and said anything that wasn’t an absolute no, such as, “Um, I’m not sure I like that one,” he would set it aside and say, “So that’s a maybe, then?” I learned quickly to respond to icky-smelling teas with an “Absolutely NO on that one.”

They measure out two ounces, but somehow (just like when you’re getting meat and cheese sliced at the deli counter), it always comes out a little above two. I think all of our teas came out at 2.3 ounces. Which was only a dollar more each, but still. One time the first scoop came out to 1.9 ounces, and I would have been fine with that, but NO. Two ounces minimum.

Teavana also has an app for both Android and iOS. It has a tea timer, list of locations, list of teas, and of course, a guide to blending your teas. Because why buy only one, when you can buy three, and get the flavor of apple pie?

All right, so, onward to the reviews of the teas we’ve tried so far.

Earl Grey White – Scott’s a fan of Earl Grey, but wanted a decaf version, thus the white tea base. It’s certainly the flavor of Earl Grey (the citrus fruit bergamot gives it that sharp tangy note), but it didn’t excite me. It really didn’t rock my socks any more than any other Earl Grey I’ve had, which means it probably wasn’t worth the price of $10.00 per two ounces. 6 out of 10.

Tulsi Dosha Chai Rooibos – I’m the big chai fan in the house. And on every single visit of our three to Teavana, they pull out this chai, and the White Ayurvedic Chai, and want to sell us both together. I liked the smell of this one (and didn’t like the smell of the other), but the flavor itself isn’t quite what I love in a chai. It’s all right, but it’s not my favorite of all of the chais I’ve tried. It’s like there’s some key ingredient missing, which leaves it a little flat. It’s decaf, thanks to the rooibos tea base. 6 out of 10.

Zingiber Ginger Coconut Rooibos – This one just smelled great; I wouldn’t have chosen it from the name. So I guess the sales person did her job, getting me to buy a tea I wouldn’t otherwise have bought. The flavor is sort of like a gingerbread cookie, and somehow it’s naturally sweet enough that I don’t need any sweetener added. The website says it’s a coconut flavor with a dash of ginger, but I found it to be the opposite — very gingery, and just a very slight hint of coconut. I believe this was one of the three teas that make the apple pie flavor. 7 out of 10.

Toasted Nut Brulee Oolong – Scott just liked the sound of this one, and the smell was heavenly. It’s the best of the Teavana teas so far, a nice dessert-style tea with flavors of cookies and spiced cider. This is also one of the two teas you can blend to make a tea that tastes like banana bread. 9 out of 10.

Strawberry Lemonade Herbal – Most of these herbal teas don’t actually contain any tea; they’re made up of aromatics and tasty flavors that are supposed to just make a yummy, decaf hot drink. This one smelled great, but in the brewing, a lot of the great flavors were lost. Despite making sure our teaspoons of leaves were heaping, the finished product was weak and lifeless, like the berries and lemons just cast a sideways glance at my cup. I’ll probably double up on the leaves next time, and try it over ice. 4 out of 10.


Caribbean Calypso Mate on the left, Toasted Nut Brulee on the right, for the banana bread tea recipe.

Caribbean Calypso Mate – the second part of the banana bread recipe, as well as our only mate tea (which apparently has just as much caffeine as coffee). The funny thing is, they don’t mention banana at all on the web page for this tea. It does smell strongly of banana, and if you smell it at the same time as you’re smelling the Toasted Nut Brulee, it does indeed smell like banana bread. But for some reason, just like with the Strawberry Lemonade, the fruit notes just don’t come through that strong. Scott had this one on its own, and found it weak. In the blend, the fruit flavors were totally overpowered by the Toasted Nut Brulee. (There was also that slight icky tang of lemongrass.) Alone: 5 out of 10. Blended with Toasted Nut: 6 out of 10.

So we at least got a couple of good teas out of the batch, but I do wish they’d sell smaller sample sizes. And it’s definitely the right move to go in with a list of things you want to smell, so you’re not steamrolled into buying whatever tea they want you to buy. Don’t be afraid to tell them no, and don’t be afraid to just peruse the huge wall of teas and pick out what YOU want to smell, not what they’re currently pushing. The staff there do know their stuff, but they’re tainted by the untrustworthiness of commission sales.

Overall the quality of their teas is good, but I think they might make their teas a bit more complicated than they need to be. If each tea had one or two flavors, they’d be easier to blend (in my opinion) than these teas with six, seven, eight flavors. (I’ll get more into this with my review of Adagio teas [an online shop].)

I’m already building a fresh wishlist of more Teavana teas to try out, but with the pricey two-ounce minimum, combined with the fact that we have a ton of their teas hanging around already, it’ll be a while before we go back.

Google Voice: Transcribing Voicemails Like a Boss

I use Google Voice for my main phone number. When someone leaves you a voicemail, it’ll then use its high-quality algorithms or whatever and transcribe the message for you.

Usually it’s word salad.

Lately, I’m getting mostly political calls, and one of them tickled my fancy:

Hello, this is weapon Pam Powell and I’m calling to advise you that your boning this chick has been changed to 46. I’m calling to respectfully ask for your belt but they Representative August 14, 2012 authorized to support More Jobs Education, thank you bye our communities. I will be positive passionate process that patient sample so we can meet chocolate first advance, but I would like to raise rather than the agony of defeat. If you go. I think I’ll let you know what the green envelope and please help parents house and house and how for State Representative August 14th. Thank you so how much and I’ll see you left with you. Okay, that’s why I won’t all of us today. God Bless you.

Well, then, weapon Pam Powell. I’ll have to watch out for boning this chick. Although I do like the idea of a chocolate first advance.

In related news, roughly half of our mail these days is huge postcards from politicians. I think for the next election come November, I’m going to keep a record of all of the postcards and phone calls, and just vote for the people who haven’t wasted paper or my time or both.

July: One Heck of a Month

I’m very, very glad to be on the backside of July. Because man, was that one packed month.

Most of the busy came from work. I’d been working at one specific desk in my department, booking one specific kind of talent and writing contracts for them. Now I’m at a different desk, writing contracts for a completely different kind of talent. Which you’d think would be similar, but they’re done in completely different ways, and it’s surprisingly hard to get your head working in a different direction.

(Could I use the word “different” more? Probably.)

At any rate, I wasn’t able to dedicate all of my time learning the new job, since I still had to do the old job, so for a couple of weeks I’d hop over to the new desk for an hour or two at a time every day, and learn a small portion of the job, and scribble down notes. And of course, in a 20-step process, that means learning step 17 one day, then moving on to step 8 the next day, then learning both step 4 and step 11 the next. It’s only now that I’ve been doing the job for a week that I’m seeing all of the steps in order, and things are clicking.

Add in that during this fortnight, while learning the new desk, the other person who did my old job (several of the desks have two people splitting the load) was on vacation. So I spent two weeks covering two desks while learning a third. Then after that, I got to spend a week training someone to do my old desk, while still popping over to the new desk and learning more little tidbits there.

Yeesh, I’m tired just writing about it. But I made it through. I’m slow now, because I’m going over everything a thousand times, and I’m consulting my notes on every step. Time will bring up my speed.

Things are good in the homestead. Scott went off to San Diego Comic-Con, and had an enjoyable time. I considered going, for a short while, but eventually realized that the very thought of it was making me panic. Too many people, too small a space, unknown city … I would have been a crazy panic panda the entire time. Once Scott got there, he confirmed that me staying home was the absolute right choice.

(We are planning on going on JoCo Cruise Crazy next February. It’s like a very small con, centered around people I like very much, and with your hotel room right there, instead of a crowded 30-minute bus ride away. Centered around a tropical cruise vacation where you don’t have to worry about finding a place to eat or a quiet corner, since it’s ALL places to eat and quiet corners. It seems like the perfect kind of con for me.)

The cats are doing well, and remain the most beautiful cats in the world. With the kissiest little faces. Look at Commie’s little face! I think I’m going to go give him a smooch right now.

I’ve acquired a Miracle Fruit plant, because I’m crazy that way. If you haven’t heard of Miracle Fruit, it’s a small berry that you crush in your mouth and swish around, and then for a couple of hours afterward, sour things taste sweet. You could eat a whole lemon, and it would taste like amazingly sweet lemon candy. There’s a chemical (called “miraculin,” hilariously enough) in it that alters the receptors on your tongue.

No berries yet on this plant, and I don’t know how long it’ll take before some arrive. It’s a slow-growing plant. But since the berries themselves cost from two to five dollars apiece online, I figured I’d just try to grow my own. (You can also get tablets made from the fruit, which are cheaper than the fruits themselves, but apparently don’t last anywhere near as long.)

Finally, we’ve finally become people who put little family decals on the car window. These are the Star Wars family car decals from ThinkGeek. Which are, sadly, out of stock right now. They came in a set of 50, so we have Jawas and Vaders and Lukes and such galore. What to use them on … hmmm. These particular choices are based on How to Decide Which Star Wars Character You Are Most Like, in which Rick imagines us as we really are.

Photodump: I’m a huge blog slacker

I’ve been a huge blog slacker of late. I have craft projects to document, books to review, products to endorse … perhaps it’s just that I have too many choices, so I don’t know what to write about next. So I’ll dive back in with the easiest possible thing — catching up on my photodumps.

First off, I finally bit the bullet and got some Skele-Toes. Yes, they’re the weird shoes with toes. And I have to say, I could walk FOREVER in these things. They’re the most comfortable athletic shoes I’ve ever owned. I even got a second pair in black. If you’ve ever been intrigued at all by these, but were put off by their price tag, see if you have a Finish Line store near you — they’re clearing these shoes out for $29. I went to their site the other day to get a second pair in pink, to put away in cold storage for when these wear out, but they’re out of my size. Oh well, I’ll have to care well for the ones I have.

I did try on the Vibrams Five Fingers before I got these. Thing is, I like how the Skele-Toes put the two smallest toes together in their own pocket. For me, both of those toes were too stupid to easily make it into their own individual homes.

Oh, and also, I got some of the super-thin athletic socks to wear with these. Though you could go barefoot in them too.

We visited the Orlando Mini Maker Faire, where we saw lots of fun doodads and gewgaws. The local R2 builders’ group had many of their models out on display. I was especially taken by the bronzey guy in the middle here. He had a whiff of the steampunk to him.

Disney opened up a brand new resort! The Art of Animation resort is mostly family suites, and a step above the regular value resorts. Cast members got a chance to tour the grounds and look inside some of the rooms, and I have to say, it’s really nice. We’ve only ever stayed at the value resorts ourselves, and this was a definite step up.

We figured that we could see the grounds anytime, but this “open mouse” would be our only chance to really scout out the rooms. I’m glad we went — when else would I be able to get a panorama shot of the gigantic Nemo pool with only Scott in the frame?

I got some lightweight pajama pants for summer. They had the Muppets on clearance at Old Navy, so how could I not? I took this picture because of the freakish Kermit/Piggy hybrid face in the center, but I didn’t notice until uploading the picture that the left-hand side has a really weird phallic Piggy-nose thing going on. Or is it just me seeing that?

I’ve missed the Cash & Carry terribly — we have Costco and Sam’s Club and such here, but there wasn’t a convenient restaurant supply store … until now! We just got a shiny new GFS Marketplace, and it’s everything that Cash & Carry was. But cleaner and more brightly lit.

I didn’t purchase a bottle of liquid fake butter, sadly. But I did get a box of frozen gyros meat slices. And a huge pillow pack of pepperoni. And several pounds of saltwater taffy for my candy bucket at work.

I’ve really missed those frozen gyros meat slices. Mmmmm.

On the deliciousness front, one of my lemon trees turned out to be a lime tree. I finally picked the fruit to check it out, since it was taking FOREVER to turn yellow. Yeah, the joke was on me. So since I have no idea what kind of limes they are (the tree is labeled “Meyer lemon”), I call them mothereffing limes. Though I’m less ladylike about it.

Anyhoo, the mothereffing lime is flowering again, and creating new leaves like crazy. The Eureka lemon tree appears to actually be a genuine lemon tree, and it has two lemons growing on it. It’s also going crazy with the new leaves.

The cats are doing well. We were having some flea problems, but Advantage appears to have them under control. We tried Frontline, but apparently Frontline is pretty much useless in our area — the fleas are all adapted to it.

Commie is loafish as ever, and Trouble could stare for hours at the most beautiful cat in the world.

I’m still playing Draw Something, but I’ll admit, I have so many games going that I don’t play them all as often as I’d like. I nibble away at them when I can. I’ve started trying to draw everything in under a minute, since part of the game is having to watch the other person’s drawing being created in real-time. And there’s nothing that makes me more insane than watching a drawing happening, guessing all the while, for five minutes or more, only to have the person finally draw the actual guessable item almost as an afterthought at the very end.

I try to get the guessable part in there in under 30 seconds, then save the fine details for last.

I realized as I put my stuff down on my desk the other day, I tend toward hot pink a lot.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just an observation.

Last but not least, I’m running Ice Cream Sandwich on my phone, courtesy of CyanogenMod 9. It’s super-sleek and fast, and the ICS camera is even better than the stock Samsung camera I loved so much.

All right, now that I’ve emptied the photodump tank, I can move on to various other things waiting in the blog queue.

Photodump: Fruits, Legumes, and Abbreviated Musical Acts

My little lemon trees appear to have made it through the winter. They both dropped a LOT of leaves when the weather got colder, and I worried that they would both kick the bucket.

You can see the general leaflessness of the Eureka lemon, but a couple of weeks ago I noticed that it was starting to bud like crazy. And those buds are now getting ginormous. Within the next week or so, that sucker will be flowering.

The lemons that were growing on the Meyer lemon tree stopped getting any larger for a while, but they seem to be on the grow again. The Meyer is also budding up, but not as violently as the Eureka. It still has probably a dozen lemons in the works, with the largest ones about the size of a small lime. We’ll see if they continue their journey now that they’ve had a little winter nap.

The other night we attended an awesome concert — They Might Be Giants, with Jonathan Coulton as the opening act. Coulton played the electric guitar (as opposed to the acoustic performance two years ago [and I’m amazed that it’s been two years since JoCo visited]), and he was accompanied by a bass player and drummer. A small band, but a band nonetheless. His performance was awesome, as always, and he played many a good song, but it was too darned short.

We hadn’t seen TMBG for years; certainly not since we moved to Florida. They gave a great show, and did some fascinating bits with knit puppets. And we got to see what was probably one of the last public performances of “Marty Beller Mask” ever.

Paul and Storm are also visiting our town this coming Friday. I may have to venture downtown to see them.

I changed the strings on my second-best ukulele, and it sounds much brighter. I think I’ve had this thing for three or four years now, so it was about time for a string change. I’ve special ordered strings for my first-best uke, so I can get the low-g string instead of the high-g. Those should come in later this week. Then I’ll put the used first-best strings on my third-best, littlest uke. Yes, I have three ukuleles. And like cats, I’d have more if I was allowed.

Finally, in the category of tasty things, I made some roasted garbanzo beans (or chickpeas, if you prefer to call them that). I started with the Alton Brown base, then fiddled with the recipe. I ended up soaking the dry beans for at least 16 hours (overnight), then roasting at 375° for about 45 minutes (stirring them around every 15). Instead of his oil-vinegar-spice mix, I just used coconut oil and salt.

With the coconut oil, they smell like movie theater popcorn while they’re cooking. When they’re done, they have the texture of corn nuts, but a flavor similar to roasted pumpkin seeds. Me likey!

Commie bit me (and that really hurt)

Well we certainly had a day full of adventure yesterday.

For a couple of days, we’d noticed some fleas on the cats. I have no idea how on earth these two got them, since they’re 99% indoor, and the only outdoor exposure they get is on our 2nd-floor deck. I suppose either this apartment came with fleas already installed, or my one friend with indoor/outdoor cats brought some over when she visited.

Anyway, we kept an eye on the cats and didn’t notice any more scratching than usual. But then yesterday we suddenly saw that Commie had gnawed a little sore spot on his back. And going through his fur, he was loaded with fleas and flea dirt.

We figured that we’d need to treat the cats and the house both. So off to the pet store we went, to check out our options.

We ended up getting those fine-toothed flea combs and some flea-killing shampoo. I decided against a bomb-fogger or boric acid on the carpets for now (I’m going to try the salt method first, since it’s so very harmless to us and the cats). And we opted to come home and research whether we wanted to go with flea collars or liquid treatments.

We combed the cats (Commie wasn’t a fan, but Trouble put up with it well) and dunked all of the fleas we found into a bowl of warm water. They drowned pretty quickly. Then we moved on to the bath.

Scott did this comic in 2006. Which was well after the last time we gave the cats a bath. So it’s been at least 5 years.

The cats did not deal with it well.

We did Trouble first; she moaned and writhed and meowed quite a bit, but then seemed resigned to her fate by the end. And when we let go of her after the rinsing was done, she actually sat there and let us towel her off a bit. Which was quite civil of her.

Then it was Commie’s turn. And he was way, WAY worse about the whole thing. And he’s also WAY stronger than Trouble. He was hard to hold, and very wriggly, and VERY pissed. So he did was any sensible cat would do when being held down and tortured; he lashed out with his teeth. And bit my finger. Twice.

For those of you who haven’t been bitten by a cat, their teeth are like little needles. And they go WAY in. And you need to wait for them to let go. And it hurts like hell.

We got the bath done, and set him free, where he proceeded to sit on the bathroom floor and tolerate a toweling-off. So at least neither of them made a beeline for the dusty under-bed. Scott did the toweling, while I cleaned my finger and doused it in hydrogen peroxide. I put on some antibiotic ointment, some gauze, wrapped a Band-Aid around it all, then went straight to visit Dr. Internet.

Dr. Internet said that a LOT of cat bites get infected, specifically because they’re so small and deep, and a cat can be a total Yuck Mouth. And oh, hey, Dr. Internet also said that if you’re a child or an oldster or don’t have the best immune system, you should totally visit an actual doctor immediately and start on some antibiotics.

Trouble tried to be helpful, in that she hopped right up on the desk and got her wet fur near the electronics. And then did some glaring.

Anyhoo, the tip of my finger was numb, and I’m immune-compromised, and even though I felt like the biggest hypochondriac in the world, we went to the emergency room (which we only seem to ever visit at 11 at night). I didn’t want to wait until this afternoon to go see my regular doctor and get antibiotics. So off we went, to the same ER we visited when I had the mysterious chest pain (which turned out to be a panic attack brought on by a vicious inner ear infection). At least they didn’t treat me like a hypochondriac. Everyone agreed that since I’m immune-compromised, it was absolutely the right move to get checked out and started on antibiotics right away.

Even when it’s a small thing, a trip to the ER takes 3 hours. First a trip to the triage room, where they took my vitals. And where I got to watch a baby throw up right outside the room. Poor kiddo. Back to the waiting room, then a trip down the hall to sit on a bed for an hour and a half. They looked at my finger, had me pay, gave me a tetanus shot, and sent me home. Of course, all of those steps had at least 15 or 20 minutes in between.

And if you haven’t had a tetanus shot lately (I don’t think I’d had one since stepping on a rusty nail as a kid), it’s a classic pinching-then-burning injection in the arm. What you don’t expect is how much it hurts the next day. At least rabies isn’t a concern, since we took the kids in last year for their 3-year booster.

They didn’t even cut away the skin flaps over the punctures (I did remove one, the big one in the middle, because it was hanging by a thread). So the big one looks worse than the rest, but the flap is covering a nice puncture near the top, and there are two other skinflaps covering holes on either side of the big one.

At least it took so long at the ER, I got the feeling back in the tip of my finger. So no nerves were severed, yay! It was swollen and warm, but that’s to be expected when you’re deeply stabbed with a needle-like object.

By the time we got home, the cats were more dry, and perfectly pleasant. And my worries about late-night retribution were for naught — they were actually more affectionate than normal, probably because they were delighted to have survived such a harrowing experience.

Today I treated them both with Advantage, combed more fleas out of Commie (he was totally up for it today, go figure), and did five loads of laundry, including all-new bedding. Tomorrow we’ll start with Project Carpet Salt, and hopefully tomorrow we’ll also start seeing more dead fleas than living fleas, since Advantage is supposed to really start kicking in around 12 hours after application.

Oh, and today the finger is all bruisey inside. But the swelling and pain have gone down.

At least I’ll finally have something to say when I’m asked, “Did you do anything interesting this weekend?”

(Besides, of course, starting Assassin’s Creed: Revelations, which is lovely so far.)

(This post’s title gleefully mooched from the classic internet video “Charlie Bit Me“.)

(A tiny idiotic part of my mind is worried now that Commie has had a taste of delicious human blood.)

Impending Lemons?

I had a horrible dream last night, in which some unknown evil person broke off all the branches of my little lemon trees. Although I guess as far as bad dreams go, that’s pretty tame. Nevertheless, this morning I went out to make sure my little friends were all right.

Trouble the cat accompanied me out onto the balcony, as always. She loves it out there, even though she’s the one who’s afraid of most people. On the flip side, Commie the social butterfly is terrified of the deck. He’ll stick his head out the door and sniff the great outdoors, but he won’t come out.

Anyhoo, the Meyer lemon looks great here. And hark, what’s that?!

One of my little buds has gone full blossom! And it smells fantastic. It would appear that not all flowers become fruits; in fact, relatively few do. But a girl can always hope.

Meanwhile, the Eureka lemon tree looks lovely, but not a bud so far. It would appear that Eureka is the lemon most commonly sold in grocery stores, while Meyer has a thinner skin and is slightly sweeter (possibly a cross between a lemon and an orange).

On a competely different topic, we partook of Taco Tuesday at the new Tijuana Flats nearby. As opposed to the one we used to live near, I really liked the mural painted on the wall.

Zombies and pirates and skeletons. It was fairly awesome.

And the tacos were great, too.