Wishing my mother a Happy 82nd Birthday!

My mother, whom you can find over on her blog Momma’s Corner, has reached another milestone. Today she turns 82 years old and is looking pretty good while doing it.

Here’s a pic of her from this past Christmas Eve. Click to embiggen.

Mom had an eventful year in 2016 as she finally managed to sell the house in Otisville and moved in with my sister in Pontiac just across the street from the house my siblings and I grew up in. She’s since been keeping busy with her projects, feeding the zoo, and updating her blog at a pace that, frankly, puts me to shame. She even got an entry up marking this special occasion where you can leave your congratulations if you’re so inclined. As for me, I’ll be seeing her on Saturday when we gather to do the food and cake thing as is traditional.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

The Burning Question of Our Times: Where do you keep your ketchup?

When I got married I had to relearn how to do laundry. Growing up my mother did laundry every other day or so and, unless my recollection is faulty, she dumped everything into the machine regardless of color so that’s how I learned to do it. There were exceptions for things like bedsheets and comforters that took up a lot of room on their own, but otherwise there was very little separation. The first time I tried to do this after I got married my wife looked at me like I had suddenly turned into a neanderthal. I was retrained to separate out the whites as well as to generally put darker clothes and lighter clothes into separate loads.

My point is that a lot of the stuff we learned as we grew up we just accepted as the way things are done and when we’re confronted by someone who learned it a different way it’s a bit of culture shock. Stuff that I would never think of questioning how I learned to do it ends up being a surprise when someone says that’s not how you do it.

Take for example, where you keep your ketchup (or catsup if you prefer). Apparently there’s a raging debate on the Internet right now about the appropriate place to store it when you’re not using it. Do you keep it in the fridge or the cupboard?

U.K. supermarket chain Asda (I have no idea how to pronounce that) Clapham waded into the argument with a Twitter poll:

Asda Clapham sparks fierce debate after move to stock ketchup in fridge

The supermarket tweeted: “Where do you keep your tomato ketchup? Our colleagues at Asda Clapham have joined the debate by stocking them on shelves AND in the fridge.”

Asda’s Victoria Williams told the Daily Mail: “Tomato ketchup is a staple of many of our customers weekly shop but recent debate has prompted us to trial two areas to stock our great value own brand tomato ketchup sauces, so we can end the debate once and for all and give everyone what they want.”

The final poll results are below:

I have to admit I’m surprised there’s a debate about this at all. The answer is: Both.

I mean, look at this label for Heinz’s ketchup:

Click to embiggen.

See that circled bit? It says “For best results, refrigerate after opening.” So you store it in the cupboard until you open it the first time, then it goes in the fridge. Same thing for A1 Sauce. How is this even a debate?

All that said, one thing that doesn’t go in the fridge is Maple Syrup unless it’s 100% pure a.k.a. REAL maple syrup. The “maple flavored” syrups sold under brand names like Aunt Jemima (THAT’S RACIST!) or Log Cabin even say right on the bottle they don’t need to be refrigerated after opening. Yet invariably they end up in our fridge and it ain’t me or the cats doing it. Makes pouring that stuff really fucking annoying.

In fairness I should point out that I do put my malt vinegar in the fridge after opening it even though it’s completely unnecessary. I have no idea why. I don’t remember us ever having it in the house when I was growing up so I have no precedent for this. We did have worcestershire sauce back then and we generally kept that in the fridge even though it didn’t need refrigeration either. I don’t think I’ve had worcestershire sauce in the house since I started living on my own so maybe I transferred the habit from that to my malt vinegar.

Oh, hey!

So it appears I’ve not posted anything since the first. My apologies, but I’ve been busy figuring out how I might purchase my first house. Our apartment lease will be up at the end of May and I’ll be turning 50 in August (which just blows my mind) and I’m thinking if I don’t pull this off now it’s never going to happen. The good news is, I think I might have figured out a way to do it this time.

Of course, that’s not all I’ve been doing. I’ve also been trying to wrap my head around how crazy things are getting now that Donald Trump has become President. It’s a sort of an embarrassment of riches in that there are so many things to talk about with regard to his Holy Hairness that I can’t decide where to start and so I end up playing Call of Duty instead.

So this is basically a quick update to say I’m still here and I still plan to try and post more often even though I’m failing at that ambition so far. I did get a new webcam for Christmas that I plan to use for vlogging and/or game streaming in the not too distant future. I also hope to add in a Blue Snowball condenser mic soon for better audio quality.

In the meantime, here’s a pic of a cat toy I saw at Meijer the other day that was oddly familiar:

Does anyone under 45 even know who this is these days?

I think the men’s room air freshener at work is trying to kill me.

I have an enemy at work in the form of a small plastic box that sits high on a wall in the men’s bathroom and I’m pretty sure it’s trying to kill me.

Behold! The form of your eventual downfall!

Behold the form of your eventual lavatory room death!

Every time I walk into the men’s room this little fucker shoots out a stinging cloud of “air freshener” that always immediately flies into my eyes causing them to sting and burn and leaving me to stumble around blindly risking death by accidental swirly. Every. Damned. Time.

OK, not really every time, but often enough that it certainly feels like every damned time. Definitely often enough that I’ve contemplated smashing it with whatever happened to be handy. Which, being I’m in a men’s room when this happens, isn’t much. Suppose I could use my fists, but I’m not keen on banging up my knuckles. Instead I curse silently under my breath (yeah, silently, sure thing) and hope there’s no one in the stall I’m about to fall into.

You win this round, men’s room air freshener, but watch your back! Someday I will have my revenge!

Weekend update.

weekendupdateSo I’ve been trying to get back into blogging on at least a semi-regular basis. My goal is to not let multiple weeks go by without publishing something. I’m actually surprised at the amount of content I have managed to put out recently. Basically, anything I would normally share to social media that I would type more than 3 sentences about I try to turn into a blog entry. There’s been a couple I’ve scrapped because I just couldn’t seem to make anything coherent out of them, but overall I think this has been helpful.

I’ve been thinking more and more about trying vlogging. I find that I’m being incredibly self-conscious about it. I don’t want to record it in front of anyone, including my wife, which makes it hard to do considering she’s home most of the time. There’s also a question of what to do a vlog about and how do I want to present myself. Should I do an energetic rant? Lots of folks doing those. Should I try to do it conversationally? Should I let my goofy side shine or be serious? Fuck it, I’ll just play a video game.

My mother has finally sold her house and is currently living with my sister in the neighborhood we grew up in. I’ve mentioned before how odd it is to go visit and not only be in the house of our former babysitter, but be directly across the street from the house I spent the first 17 years of my life in. It’s also annoying because the field we used to play in got bought up and someone shoved two houses into it so what was once the closest we had to a park is no more.

Healthwise, I’m still fat and I haven’t gotten back into exercising with the warmer weather like I know I should. Still hovering in the low to mid-290’s weight. My right knee has been bothering me for several months and I’ve got a doctor’s order to get it x-rayed, but haven’t gotten around to that yet. It’s hard to get up the motivation to do something like that when, despite having insurance, I will have to foot the entire cost as we’ve not hit our deductible yet.

Other than that it’s work, eat, sleep, play video games. I lead an incredibly boring life.

Picked up a couple of toys the other day.

BDCM5000B

It’s a pretty big coffee maker. Still trying to find room for it on the counter.

Anne and I have been making due with a little 4 cup coffee maker for ages now mainly because I was the only one of the two of us to regularly drink coffee, but she’s since developed a taste for it. So we decided it was time to buy a full-size coffee maker and I figured if I was going to do that then I’d go all the way and buy one with a built-in bean grinder.

I ended up ordering a Black & Decker CM5000B 12-Cup Mill and Brew Coffeemaker from Amazon as it had a pretty good rating and was the cheapest of the models with built-in grinders. Not only is it pretty, but it has a bronze tone permanent filter that you just rinse in the sink eliminating the need to purchase new coffee filters all the time. It can still use pre-ground coffee as well and can be programmed to turn on at a set time. Naturally we went out and bought some whole store-roasted beans at Holiday Market, but we’ve not tried it out yet. Probably this weekend. We’re still using the smaller pot for morning coffee before work.

The other thing I bought was a replacement solar lantern for the shepherd’s hook we have in front of our apartment. Ever since we moved to Ann Arbor we’ve had some form of fake lanterns hanging outside our apartment and we’ve carried on that tradition (such as it is) at the new place. Alas, the battery finally wore out on the last solar lantern we had bought around Christmas time a couple of years ago. We had bought a new lantern that looked like a glass lighthouse, but someone recently ripped out the solar panel cap that had the LEDs on it.

So, I replaced it with this:

It’s much bigger than the old lantern and the battery on it is amazing. At its best it’s only supposed to last 8 hours, but so far it’s been running right until sunrise. Not bad for being about $35 on Amazon. It helps to make it easier for folks to find the apartment. Not just friends and family, but delivery guys too. The little yard flag in the background is new too. We’re just starting to amass a collection of those.

Someday I’d like to purchase some of the Luminara fake candles because the flame effect on those is amazing, but with those starting at $50 and quickly going up and given that we’ve already had one solar lantern destroyed by the neighbors, I figured this would do fine.

Happy 15th Anniversary to the love of my life!

On April 21st, 2001 I said “I do” to my best friend and love of my life, Annette Gribble.

Wedding picture.

The start of the journey.

Fifteen years later and we’re still making it work. It hasn’t always been easy, but we’ve made it this far.

I wish I could come up with something profound to say about marriage after this much time, but the truth is I’m still figuring it out as I go along. All I can say for certain is I love my wife more each day than the day before and I’m grateful she chose me to spend her life with.

Happy 15th Anniversary, sweetheart! Here’s hoping for many more to come!

I miss drinking cola.

I gave up drinking regular sodas in my early thirties and diet colas in 2011 which means it’s been 5 years since I’ve last tasted a cola of any kind.

I really miss it.

Most days I’m fine and it doesn’t cross my mind, but then something happens and I’m reminded how much I loved Coca Cola in particular and colas in general. Today it’s my cubemate sitting across from me with a Diet Coke. He’s not flaunting it or anything, it’s just sitting there on his desk and he’s taking occasional sips from it.

And it looks so good.

These days 98% of what I drink in a day is plain old tap water. I start the day with a cup or two of coffee and then it’s my 32 ounce water bottle for the rest of the day. Anne’s been including small cans of tomato juice in my lunch the last week or so and that’s made for a nice change. Occasionally I’ll have some milk with dinner. Otherwise it’s lots and lots of water.

I hate water. It’s so fucking boring. Putting lemon in it or one of the various flavoring mixes doesn’t help so I just drink it plain, but I hates it. I know I’m better off having given up sodas and drinking more water, but that doesn’t make me feel any better about it.

I don’t really have a point with all of this, I’m just feeling a bit whiney so I thought I’d get it out of my system.

cocacola

The joy of living near asshole neighbors.

There’s always that one asshole in every neighborhood. I thought it was me, but it turns out I was wrong.

Instead, it’s a family with small children that apparently thinks that qualifies them to use one of the two handicapped spaces in our parking lot. There’s three different vehicles that fight over using that spot because it’s the closest to our building and none of them have handicapped tags. I’ve watched them park there and unload the car even when the spot RIGHT FUCKING NEXT TO IT is open. Apparently that extra 2 feet they’d have to walk is just too much for them. 99% of the time there’s is an available spot elsewhere in the lot they could’ve parked, but they choose not to because apparently the rules don’t apply to them.

Meet the Asshole Family.

Meet the Asshole Family. That black SUV in the next spot? that’s one of the other two cars that fight over the handicapped spot.

What happens when the lot, including the handicapped spots, are full?

That’s what I was greeted with when I stepped out the door this morning. The windows are fogged so that SUV has been on the sidewalk all night long. There’s a lot at the end of the sidewalk in that last pic that’s just across the street that we were told we should use if our lot is full. That lot is never full. It’s an extra 30 feet. I’ve parked there when I’ve had to. We go over there occasionally anyway as that’s where our building’s dumpsters are located.

I really hate to think I’ve evolved into that cranky bastard neighbor, but it appears that I have and I’ve contacted the Canton Township police department about these asshats. I know in the grand scheme of things this is a relatively minor offense, but I have bad knees and I still walk the extra distance when I have to. I have friends and family that have legit handicapped stickers who would not be able to make use of this spot because some asshole thinks their toddlers can’t walk the extra distance without being abducted or something.

Hey, at least I haven’t left them passive-aggressive printouts on their windshield… yet.

It looks like it’s going to be a sleepless night.

I apologize for not posting something sooner — it’s been long enough that my mother sent me an email asking me to update SEB — but it’s been a busy few weeks. Anne has started a new job that has her getting up at 5AM so the both of us have been going to bed earlier than usual the past couple of weeks.

I’ve also been heavily involved in a PC refresh at work. Most of the laptops we currently have are over 5 years old so the IT department has started purchasing replacements and I’ve been trying to upgrade anywhere from two to four people a day to their new machines. We only got 24 new machines in this first go-round, but that’s enough to keep me jumping. We’ll be doing several more batches throughout the year.

In addition to that, our company just struck a new deal with T-Mobile that sees everyone being upgraded from the crappy flip-phones they’ve been using to a brand spanking new iPhone 6s. Guess who also handles phone issues at our site? Since last Thursday we’ve been working on this and it’s been a painful learning process in part because upgrading from the flip-phones isn’t as simple as you’d think it would be and also because we’re offering to let people port over their personal numbers into a business number if they want to. Not to mention the process of setting up an iPhone to be managed by the IT department is easily a 40 minute process by itself. The amount of training I had on this was minimal due to the fact that the folks in Ohio who were teaching me weren’t completely up to speed on how to do everything themselves. This has resulted in any number of hiccups, but we’re slowly making progress and the folks I support have been very gracious in their patience.

Tonight, however, worries have me back out of bed at 11:30 in the evening and I’m not sure if I’ll get back to sleep tonight or not. Our emergency backup cat, Jasper, has suddenly started vomiting his food back up at least once a day for the past several days. My first thought was we got a bad batch of hard food, but Cuddles doesn’t seem to be having any issues himself. He doesn’t seem to be any less active than usual or showing any obvious signs of distress so we weren’t sure if there’s a serious problem or if he’s just eating too fast and getting sick after roughhousing with Cuddles. I called the vet’s office today and they said we better bring him in just in case so we have an appointment for Saturday afternoon.

My daughter is also having relationship issues with her mother at the moment that has resulted in a couple of exasperated phone calls from Courtney this evening, one of them after we had gone to bed. Things will probably have settled down by the morning, but it’s hard not to worry if she’s going to do something rash like try to live out of her car until she can afford an apartment because she and her mother can’t seem to get along anymore.

I’ve been laying in bed tossing and turning since the last phone call and I eventually decided to get up to pee. Jasper joined me in the bathroom where he jumped in the tub and crouched as though he were trying to urinate. This is way out of character for him and he stood that way for several minutes. When he finally moved there were two very small pools of urine in the tub. Barely any at all. One of the issues the vet was concerned about was dehydration from the vomiting and this would seem to confirm those worries. After I finished doing my business I went looking for him to see if he was OK and at first I couldn’t’ find him. Checking the litter boxes in the basement I noticed another very small pool of urine next to one so he’s clearly having issues.

I found him here in the computer room. He’s curled up on Anne’s chair sleeping next to me at the moment. Now I have to decide if I should take the day off and take him into urgent care or see if the vet can squeeze him in. I have a lot of work to do tomorrow so I really should go to work, but I don’t think I can risk waiting until Saturday to take him in. Anne certainly can’t take the day off as she just started this job a couple of weeks ago. Getting back to sleep with him in distress is probably not going to happen either even though he seems to be sleeping peacefully at the moment.

Lots of pressures and stresses at the moment. If I hadn’t already shaved my head my hair would probably be falling out. I hate this feeling of not knowing what to do whether it’s in trying to get someone a new phone to do their job or help my daughter to find a place of her own or whether to rush my cat into an animal urgent care. As a kid, the adults in my life always seemed to know what they were doing and I always figured that when the time came I’d know what to do too. I must have missed school the day that held that class because more often than not I’m just winging it by the minute and I hate that.

On a lighter note, I had been letting my hair grow out for the winter only to be reminded why I shave my head. Once it gets to a certain length it’s impossible to get it to behave and I end up looking like this:

You'll note the permanent wave I've got going on there.

You’ll note the permanent wave I’ve got going on there.

Last Wednesday I finally gave up and shaved it off so I’m back to looking like this:

Crazy eyebrows still intact.

Crazy eyebrows still intact.

Well, it’s now 12:08AM and I should probably try to go back to bed. Probably won’t, but I probably should. I’m feeling anxious and it’s amazing how well that suppresses any tiredness you’d otherwise feel. Here’s hoping the morning brings with it some clarity and positive resolutions to at least some of my immediate concerns.