October 3, 2013

Wildlife

When we lived out in Lewisville, we had plenty of large animals around.  I saw (within a mile of my house) coyotes, roadrunners, rabbits, snakes, hawks, raccoons, skunks, armadillos, and more.  I thought by moving into the city that would likely decrease, but on top of hearing there was a bobcat in our neighborhood recently, I also realized that in addition to our horde of bunnies running around the neighborhood, we have a few more smaller animals that were noticeably missing the past couple of years outside city limits.  Fireflies, for starters.

And these guys, whom we originally had in Lewisville but disappeared after a particularly dry summer:




And the other day, I also stumbled on this guy just hanging out by our fence:

Happy Thursday.

September 6, 2013

Android KitKat

So if you don't follow along, Google has been naming their Android OS versions after desserts for some time (I think since "D").  The latest two were Ice Cream Sandwich and Jellybean (I'm running Jellybean on mine).  The latest version?  KitKat.

In response, Nestle launched new KitKat candybar ads that mock the way Apple positions its products with artsy-yet-techy language.  Quite humorous.  Enjoy.

August 22, 2013

Tip of the hat to dad's alma mater

Heard this great welcome to the freshmen speech this morning from a Georgia Tech student.  Since my dad is a GT alum, thought I would share...


August 2, 2013

July 11, 2013

Aquarium Update

In the move, I managed to convince the local fish store who moved my aquarium for me to take some of my fish that I no longer wanted.  In exchange, they offered me some store credit, which I was able to use to get a couple of new guys.

Gotta say, the move was excellent - they even got my filters running better than they had been before.

Anyway, here's the new aquarium setup (I plan on redoing the decor periodically), and here are the inhabitants:


  • Jack Dempsey
  • Pink Convict
  • 2x Firemouths
  • Red/Gold Severum
  • Green Terror
  • 5x Silver Dollars
  • 5x Red/Blue Colombian Tetras
  • 5x Buenos Aires Tetras
  • Plecostamus
Boom.

Oh, and here's some pics of the new guys:


And an obligatory pic of my Jack Dempsey:

June 17, 2013

Piña Piña Piña Piña

Side note: So, this is a first post over here on the blog concerning plants...and should be part of the death of the "gardening blog" which I had.  I am going to consolidate many of the "separate blogs" into one, probably just leaving a blog, a beer recipe page, and the poems, but we will see.

Several years ago, I got a wild idea to grow a pineapple plant.  I knew from somewhere deep in my past, wandering around in a memory from my childhood, that you could grow a pineapple plant from just the top of any old pineapple that you bought from the store.  I did not, however, have any clue what I was doing in how to grow it.

Insert the Internet.

This page helped me understand what I was doing, and I followed the instructions pretty much with a pineapple top.

After about a year, I had a pineapple plant with two leaves.  That was it.  Still, I kept up with the sunlight and occasional watering, hoping that one day, I'd have a plant.

Here we are, probably three years later, and you can see from the picture above, I've got one.  I can't tell you when or why, but one day last year, the plant just started growing.  It started sprouting new leaves out of the center, and the ones it sprouted kept growing and growing.  I moved it to the office when we moved houses, and have kept it here a couple of months now where it can get ample sunlight (and some good flourescent light, too), and it seems to be happy here as well.

Suffice it to say, it is not the easiest plant I've ever grown, but it definitely has been rewarding the past few months to see it actually sprout more than the two measly leaves it had.

So go over to that "How to Grow a Pineapple" site and check it out.  You might actually want to grow one, too.

June 14, 2013

Funny - conversations with my 2 year old

This is funny, and I have totally had similar conversations occur in our household.

The second episode is pretty great too....  Subscribed.

June 10, 2013

No thanks, I won't pull up

By Coneingcrew (Own work) [CC0],
via Wikimedia Commons
Every now and again, I am going through a local fast food establishment, and I get to the window to pay and receive my food, and, after paying, the restaurant employee asks me, "if you don't mind, please pull up," accompanied with a gesture to some nebulous blacktop waiting area where I am supposed to sit in my car, out of line, and wait for someone to inefficiently bring my food out to the car after they have prepared it.  Often, the request is much ruder: "Pull up over there and we will bring your food."

At times, I have complied with this request, pulling into side parking spots or just moving the car up a few feet, or even wrapping around the front of the building to wait.  But this practice has become so frequent among fast food establishments that I begin to wonder if we should remove the "fast" from their moniker.

The worst part about it is that I have occasionally had issues with the "pull up" routine.  The absolute worst of the worst experience is that on more than one occasion, the workers have just completely forgotten that I was waiting, leading me to exit my car, march inside, only to find that they have not even made my food, and I will be waiting longer.  They already have my money hostage, so there's a sense of powerlessness about it that I find frustrating.  Other disasters include waiting a long time and then receiving the wrong food, missing condiments, etc., all requiring a physical exit from the car to go back into the establishment to correct.

So, why do they even do this?  I can only think of two reasons.  The first is benevolent.  Something in my order actually will take longer to make than the order behind me, so they are just rearranging the queue to allow the first food ready to be the first food served.  I don't really have an issue with this, as it might benefit me one day.  The second is a bit more self-serving.  Lots of fast food restaurants are measured on "time to service" sort of metrics that measure (even electronically counting inside the restaurant) the amount of time that a car sits at the drive through window.  In some restaurants (I know because I worked in one), the timer starts beeping annoyingly if the car exceeds some allotted service time.  In this instance, there is no customer service mentality there, just a desire to artificially deflate the average service times or to avoid getting "dinged" for long wait times.  The problem is that you can't ever tell if the motivation is the first reason, second reason, or just plain conditioned behavior.

So what can you do?  I say you refuse to pull up.  Period.

I got introduced to this idea from a friend who said that he "refused to pull up on principle" and would just stick with that.  The response generates confused looks and repetition in the ask, but kept him at the window until receiving his food.  I loved the idea so much, I've taken to some adjustments of my own.

The first thought I had was to answer the question "Can you please pull up?" with some enigmatic response, like "I am not allowed."  I thought this would generate some sort of suspicion that I would play into, along the lines of my being a secret shopper or something like that, unable to falsify service times in my reports back to corporate.  But that opened itself to the same issues as "refusing on principle."

And then, it hit me.  A great response, that I (and others, now) have used with some level of success.  It is predicated on a two-pronged approach:  First, you let yourself believe that they are asking you to pull up as a courtesy to you, to generate great customer service.  Second, you let yourself believe that you will do the more polite thing and not require them, at their minimum wage job, to have to run out and serve you food when you are perfectly capable of sitting and waiting on them.  The response, "No, thanks, I'm fine."

So, here's how this conversation goes in practice.

Cashier: Sir, can you please pull up?
Me: No thanks, I'm good.

Cashier: Sir, if you can pull over there, we can bring your food to you.
Me: Oh, you really don't have to do that.  I'm OK, I will wait for it.



I've tried some other variants, like totally ignoring the request, or pulling up only two or three feet, which negates the purpose of my pulling up but doesn't allow them to protest anymore, but I've found the "polite refusal" is most effective, and generally only results in being asked once or twice.  And after you've done it a couple of times, it's just as easy as the obligatory "No thanks" when offered new credit card offers to save 10% off of your $14 Target purchase or the like.

My goal: to eventually end the "please pull up" automatic request, and get it really back to "total exception" scenarios.  But I need your help.

Will you join in the refusal?

June 3, 2013

Off the face of the planet

By NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team
 (STScI/AURA) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
So, no.  I did not actually fall off of the face of the planet.  Nor did I apply for a one-way pass to colonize the planet Mars and get accepted and shipped off.  No, nothing that exciting.

Instead, I just disappeared from my own website for a while.  It happens.

In the meantime, we had another baby, I moved, and all sorts of other delightful life changes took place.

If you have stuck around this long, chances are you have seen me pull the disappearing act a couple of times.  And now I'm back.  For a little while at least.

I'm not sure I'll continue all the site in its present form, or if I will just start merging some pieces of it together - I have a feeling I may combine the writing blog with the brewing log with the blog, and just have one place with some different tags separating it.  I know I just split it out a few years ago, but honestly, the updates on each one individually are spaced out enough that I don't think there's a continuous stream of content.

So, maybe that will happen.  If I get motivated.

In the meantime, I am looking at doing some flash fiction and poetry stuff, which I will talk about on the writing blog.  Maybe.  For now, hi, and know I'm still somewhere out here - not somewhere out there.

February 18, 2013

This is not a food blog

By Leo za1 (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
OK, I noticed that the last couple of posts on here have been about what I've been eating.  In no way do I intend to turn this blog solely into a food blog, but that is one of the better topics of things I like to make mental (and then literal) notes about.  So my apologies if my blog did nothing but to make you hungry of late.  I am sure there are other interesting things to come - in fact, I have a couple of ideas.  Now if only I would sit and write them.

In the meantime, instead of food I'm eating, check out this iguana eating a delicious flower.

February 11, 2013

Lobster Mac & Chard!

Every now and again, we make some yummy food, and I decide to share.

We get several food magazines, from Food Network to Rachel Ray and Southern Living (and maybe even one more).  This month in Food Network was a litany of cheese recipes, but we both started to drool at the thought of Lobster Mac and it didn't hurt that we had three rock lobster tails in the freezer.

So, we spun up the recipe for lobster mac and cheese (involves whisking flour and butter and milk and adding 3.5 cups of cheddar cheese before adding pasta and chopped cooked lobster meat and broiling briefly).  Note: Don't leave your lobster tails boiling unsupervised, lest they boil over on your stove.  Just saying.

Along with this we had a combination of rainbow and swiss red chard.  If you have never had chard, I recommend you try it.  It's a green but without the usual bitterness, and much more sweet.  Not to mention it has such colorful stalks, and I'm sure there are great vitamins in there.

Anyway, here's how we made the chard (since this is our own recipe, I don't mind just showing you what we made up):

We took a bunch of Swiss red chard and a bunch of rainbow chard from the grocery store and washed it well.  Then slice the stalks of the chard and roll the leaves up.  Slice the leaves along the rolls, creating 1/4 inch ribbons of greens.

Heat 2-3 Tbsp of oil in a skillet over medium heat (let it heat 3 minutes or so by itself).  Add one clove garlic, crushed, and simmer for 1-2 minutes.  Add the shredded greens, and mix up with tongs.

Salt and pepper as desired.

Cook for 5-10 minutes, moving around frequently with tongs until the greens are limp and well cooked.  Any pieces of stalk should be quite soft.

What you'll be left with is a colorful and delicious pile of greens.  Good luck!

January 22, 2013

Meat Cupcake Delishus

OK, as you know, I have a tendency to share foods that I have consumed here (wait - isn't that what they said Twitter is for?).

So, this weekend, I managed to squeeze into the menu this concoction at right -> the bacon-wrapped meatloaf cupcake (topped with mashed potato "icing").

We saw this in some magazine (Food Network Magazine, perhaps?) and ended up making a version from the internet, and it turned out great.  Even my meatloaf-disliking-spouse said she'd eat these again, and I felt it necessary to share just because of the deliciousness (and sheer absurdity) of a meatloaf cupcake.

I thought they were great myself - the only downside being how to extract this bacon-wrapped-potato-topped-meatball from the muffin tins without utterly destroying them, and the excessive muffin tin cleaning required afterwards.

Kudos to whichever magazine got us to make these, and to the recipe, which we got here:

Bacon Wrapped Meatloaf Cupcakes

Enjoy!

January 21, 2013

Brushes with Fame

By Photos by flipchip / LasVegasVegas.com
 [CC-BY-SA-2.0
(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons

So every now and again, when you are traveling, you run into "famous" people.  It makes sense, actually, since famous people need to travel, too.  In fact, you might could make an argument that many "famous" people have professions that require them to travel, which means it is actually more likely that a person of some stature is traveling than your average Joe or Jane.

Still, it's fun to run into them and have your brush with fame.

The last time I ran into someone of note was in Dulles airport a little over a year ago, when one of my coworkers pointed out Henry Rollins waiting on his plane.  By the time I decided to go talk to him and perhaps get a picture, he had moved on (ostensibly to get ON his plane).

So, when I got on the plane home from Vegas last week, I was treated to a double dose of traveling with fame.

Seated in first class was former WWE wrestler Shawn Michaels - I didn't speak to him, as I'm not particularly a big fan of wrestling, but it was still nice having celebrities on the plane.

It wasn't until I got off the plane and went to the baggage claim, that I saw Doyle Brunson (pictured above). I most definitely am a fan of professional poker playing and the World Series of Poker, so I did not pass up on this one.  He was waiting on his luggage, and I did get a little fan-like giddy and told him I was really glad to see him in person and that I had watched him play for years and was a fan.  He smiled (much like he's doing in that picture), nodded, and said "Thank you."  Kind of a nice interchange except I did leave rather quickly since I was ready to get home.  I wonder if he would have chatted some more.  Anyway, I may retroactively document some of my other brushes with fame (as that provides for nice blog fodder), but I thought I would at least hit this one relatively shortly after its occurrence.

January 8, 2013

New Year New Tricks?

By Bird33ou (Own work)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Well, another year has come, and that probably means it is time to make resolutions and whatnot.  So, here we are, a week in, and I am thinking, probably not going to make too too many this year.

Here's why.

When you are looking at having not one but two pretty major life events in a single year (both GOOD ones, by the way), there's not much room to fit in other little goals.  But I still like to throw a little fuel on the fire, so here goes.  Most of these are writing resolutions, so I guess I could move this over to the writing blog, but whatever.


  1. Not so much a resolution, but I am going to see how many days in a row I can write "something" of fiction.  I'm at 7.
  2. I'm going to post a few more times than last year, but not sure how many more.  But more.  But still scattered around the various blogs.
  3. I'm going to play golf more than once - the number of times I managed to play in the last 2 years.
  4. I'm going to try to adjust to all of the changes from the last 6 and next 6 months as quickly as possible (and before year end)
  5. I'll keep a regular poetry schedule.  Maybe.
  6. I'll start revision on a work of fiction.  Preferably a novel-length work of fiction.
That's it.  No more promises.

Things that I also expect.  There will be times I am extremely tired, grumpy, cranky, or generally feeling like that dog's face looks up above.  I will slow down brewing any beer early in the year (probably only 1 more brew day in the near future), and HOPEFULLY will get back to brew a few batches before the end of the year.  And I will, at times, disappear from the internet for a few days.  And then return.

I don't know - that seems like a lame list, but it's a list.  So there.  If you don't like it, tell me what your resolutions are in the comments, and you can one up me.  Happy New Year.

January 4, 2013

Bowl Madness

By Torsten Bolten (Own work)
[CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
Writing a football post because I don't feel like writing the resolution post yet and I need to get back to working on fiction stuff instead of blogging.

So here's some thoughts.

Apparently every team I am pulling for in the bowl games is losing (or almost losing - talking about you Louisville), with the exception of Baylor, who spanked UCLA - the score made it appear closer than it was, and the score wasn't close.  Sic 'Em.  Still, I've been disappointed with just about everyone else that I have wanted to win.  I guess this is not my year.

In other news, my first attempt at fantasy left me out of the money and in fourth place, but we will see how the playoffs go... maybe I can do better.

Also, that 1 point safety in the Oregon - K State game...  let's all remember - if you block a kick and recover outside of the end zone, do NOT run back into your end zone.  1 point safety negates the whole point of blocking the kick.

That is all for the weekend, kids, have a nice one.