An Odd Product

Walking through the local TargĂȘt last night, I came across this rather odd item in the Pet Care section.

Gates like that are a great way to keep a pet (well, a dog anyhow) from leaving or entering the room. Nothing too exciting there.
But what’s with the pet door in the pet gate? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose?

umop 3p!sdn

I got a postcard from Al & Natalie today. It seems they’re off on another epic vacation, this time a cruise around Australia and New Zealand. Among other exploits, they went ashore and had dinner one night at the Sydney Opera House.
Because they’re in Australia, they wrote the postcard upside down. That way, when the postcard arrived in North America, it would be right-side up and the recipient would have no difficulty reading it. Al & Natalie are very considerate about things like that.
It was a good plan, but they overlooked one small detail. By law (a holdover from their days as a British colony), all postcards in Australia, New Zealand, etc. come from the printer already upside down. The idea behind this is to better accommodate tourists from the Northern Hemisphere who might otherwise forget about “up” being a different direction than at home.
Naturally, the end result of these two good intentions is that when the postcard arrived, the photo was right-side up, but the note was upside down!

Conserving Natural Resources

Yesterday’s posting about the proper storage of rubber chickens included a photo of the top shelf of my refrigerator. In addition to the aforementioned chicken, the photo also reveals a large Chase & Sanborn coffee can.
The sight of a coffee can in my fridge prompted a raised eyebrow from Z. since she knows that I don’t drink coffee. And it’s true, although Z. and I have occasionally had dinner together, we’ve never once met for coffee. It’s not that I have anything against coffee (some of my closest friends are coffee drinkers), during my wild college days, I even tried drinking coffee once or twice. I’ve simply never acquired a taste for it.
So where did the coffee can come from? My folks have occasionally left a small jar of instant coffee in my fridge so it would be there for their next visit, but I’ve never had ground coffee in my house. (Bleah!)
The answer is that Z. has overlooked my participation in the environmental movement.
When you’re conserving resources, Step 1 is to reduce your resource usage. Dad’s co-workers realized early on that producing a single 2 lb can of ground coffee requires only a fraction of the energy and packaging that would be consumed in creating an equivalent number of single-serving coffee packets. So they team up and buy coffee in bulk. (At the end of the day, Dad of course does his part to make sure no coffee is wastefully poured down the drain.)
Step 2 for conserving resources is to reuse manufactured items. Creating a new metal container requires much more energy than simply reusing an existing one, so Dad occasionally brings home empty coffee cans and Mom uses them to send cookies to me and my brothers.
Step 3 in the conservation cycle is, of course, to recycle the item since that expends fewer resources than finding and refining the raw materials.
What many people overlook however is that Step 2 can be repeated more than once for a single item. Until the item is actually worn out, there’s no reason you can’t reuse it indefinitely. And honestly, barring a particularly brutal trip through the post office, a coffee can full of cookies doesn’t experience a whole lot of additional wear and tear.
And so you see, that coffee can in my refrigerator doesn’t contain coffee. It also doesn’t contain any cookies, I ate that batch a long time ago. It’s currently being used for a third time, now as a sugar cannister.
So the real question is, why do I keep my sugar cannister in the fridge?
Because that way it won’t be found by ants.

Thanksgiving Dinner

This was only the second time since I moved back to the East Coast that I didn’t go up to Mom and Dad’s for Thanksgiving. Last year, they came here, and this year they went to visit my brother and his family. I was invited too, but friends are getting married this weekend and I didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving in the car.
The original plan was to find a restaurant that was open for Thanksgiving. I’ve done that before. Back when I was living in Nevada, a friend and I went to the local Hyatt hotel and had Thanksgiving Dinner in their Chinese restaurant. It was a traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner, with turkey and all the expected trimmings, but because we were in a Chinese restaurant, we decided to use chopsticks to eat the cranberry sauce.
In the end, I decided to cook my own dinner. Most of my meals are pretty simple stuff, but now and then I get adventuresome and this seemed like a good opportunity. Besides, I didn’t think any of the places that would be open around here were likely to have both chopsticks and cranberry sauce.
So on Monday I went to the store and bought the smallest turkey I could find (it was 10 pounds – I’m gonna have leftovers for a while) and around 2:30 this afternoon I put it in the oven. Along with the turkey, I picked up some pre-mixed mashed potatoes, and the freezer was already full of veggies. Add in some biscuits, and I was good to go.
The biscuits didn’t turn out so well. But the turkey and everything else came out pretty darn nicely.
One well-cooked turkey.
Wylie had a hunk of turkey as part of his dinner
Wylie eating dinner
and Terry had a big ol’ piece of carrot.
Terry munching on a carrot.


We’ve had some cold weather lately. Just a week ago, night time temperatures dropped below and a good number of less-hardy plants died off. And despite all that, when I came back from walking the dog, I found a rose blooming.
It’s an odd time of year for a rose to bloom, but it’s beautiful.
Photo of a persistent rose.

Interesting Day at the Office

Monday was the last day for one of the higher ups at my office and the event was marked with a lunch time going-away party. Midway through the party, the fire alarm started going off. There had been signs posted by the elevators that morning to announce fire alarm tests, so we stayed put and listened to several short speeches. After the alarms had been going off for nearly 15 minutes, someone came into the room and announced that the building really was being evacuated.
As we walked out of the building, we saw a group of firefighters walking in, all wearing their heavy fire jackets, several carrying fire extinguishers, dragging hoses, and one or two lugging breathing apparatus. MC heard one of them saying the fire was in the building’s basement.
They let us back into the building a half-hour later. As we were walking up the stairs, several of us noticed the smell of smoke. Either there really was a fire, or else it was one heck of a realistic fire drill.
Firetrucks in front of the office
Rumor has it that the fire started when someone threw a cigar into the landscaping and the mulch caught fire. Evidently it was right in front of the intake for the building’s ventilation system. That’s how we came to have smoke in the building.
Regardless of what really happened, this is the only party I’ve ever attended that really did end with the fire department arriving.

Sex-cams at the Beach

It seems that in Palm Beach they have a problem with people having sex on the beach. All sniggering aside, from a tourism standpoint, that’s probably not the sort of image they’re trying to project. Likewise, I rather imagine any responsible parent would have concerns about the kids getting an unexpected “education.”
Still, the response that County officials have come up with is one I can only describe as “unorthodox”: They want to set up cameras to automatically record the action.
As if the plan wasn’t odd enough by itself, the details are unintentionally(?) even funnier. According to the news story, one of the suggestions from the head of the county commission is that the cameras be set up so 911 dispatchers can watch the scene on the beach and call deputies if they see problems.
If implemented, this plan would no doubt decrease any motivation for local 911 dispatchers to use county funds for porn site subscriptions.
Alas for the 911 dispatchers, it appears that wiring the cameras to continuously upload to the internet isn’t practical. Instead, the news story says the plan is for county workers to periodically visit the beach and download the video from the cameras.
Here’s how I see this playing out:

  1. Morning drive-time DJs all over the country are going to be making jokes about this story. If not for the writer’s strike, it might even make it onto Leno or Letterman.
  2. The cameras will eventually go into place.
  3. A month later, Palm Beach will have it’s first scandal involving a county employee who couldn’t resist the temptation to take one of the tapes home and upload it to a video sharing site. “Palm Beach Nights” will become an instant online hit.
  4. The county government will promise an immediate investigation with a promise that appropriate action will be taken against those responsible for the release. No significant findings will be announced.
  5. A second scandal will occur, this time with a prominent community or political figure being caught on tape.
  6. A short time later, amid as little fanfare as possible, the cameras will quietly vanish.


Starring Richard Gere, Julia Ormand and Sean Connery, First Knight was released in 1995. Twelve years later, I’m finally watching it. (I’ve been busy.)
The movie takes place after Arthur has already established the Round Table and portrays the events surrounding Lancelot’s arrival in Camelot. It’s a good movie and I heartily recommend it. The only difficulty I’m having with it is that I’ve seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail and in early 2006, Spamalot.
There’s a scene near the beginning of First Knight where Arthur greets Guinevere and as they prepare to enter the city, she speaks its name, “Camelot.” And what words should go through my head but, “It’s only a model.”
Likewise, when Lancelot is introduced to the High Council, I can’t help but imagine the assembled knights bursting into song with a chorus of “His name is Lancelot…”
But even with that distraction, it’s still a good movie.