Faking it

Which of these is Subway’s sweet onion sauce and which is mine?

Hard to tell, right? That’s the point of recreating something you have a taste for in your home.

The three and a half days I spent with my gastro distress a couple of weeks ago also resulted in me not eating much of anything. At the end of that week, we sent The Boy out to get some food, and I had Subway’s sweet onion chicken teriyaki. Unlike the things I had eaten thoughout the week to try to get my system on track and without immediately losing whatever I ate, this stayed down. The next day, The Boy was out again, so I had him swing by and bring me another. That one, however, was not as good – the “sandwich artist” or whatever the hell they are calling themselves these days clearly did not graduate at the top of her class: too much mayo, sauce, and leaky tomatoes resulted in the thing disintegrating in my hand. So, being me, I decided I could make my own, sauce included. And I did. And it was mighty tasty – slightly sweeter than theirs, given the taste issues I have.

For the record: the top is theirs, the bottom is mine.

The last round?

Please let this be the last round of freezing temps. I have tomatoes and peppers and eggplants and flowers and all sorts of other things to get growing outside. Mother Nature: you are not helping.

On a side note, what is it with the long, long movie trailers that pretty much give you the entire movie in the extended trailer, making it unnecessary to see the movie? Number one, it hardly qualifies as a teaser, number two, it’s annoying considering how many times they play, and number three, people are going to go see the type of movies they like (Fast and Furious) or the actors they love (Clive Owen, Julia Roberts) regardless. I was so happy when those Valkyrie trailers finally stopped running, but it’s a bit like tribbles or gremlins: more have multiplied to take its place.

Ignoring the world

I’ve always been a news and information junkie. Like many other people, I would surf around news and aggregate sites, political blogs, and everything in between. After yet another round of yet another unbelievable goings on in the world, I decided to try ignoring the news for a day. I don’t watch news on the tv anyway, so that was simple, and the paper doesn’t deliver out here to us, which made that simple as well. The toughest part was breaking my typical routine of web surfing, to avoid the habits I’d gotten into.

That was a week and a half ago.

I’m not as aggravated by things and I have a lot more time to Get Things Done as I’ve discussed before.

This way is so much better.

I’ll probably continue it indefinitely.

Spring cleaning

When you  have hundreds of servers at a NOC somewhere, and you’ve been around for going on nine years now, there is no getting around the fact that you will end of with a bunch of dead hardware over time: servers where the motherboards have fried, the power supplies have shot themselves, disk drives that have been replaced or pulled from retired machines, miscellaneous cables, screws, and wires. If you’re smart, you take care of these things as they happen, salvage the usable parts as spares for the other equipment, and then get rid of the rest. If you’re not smart, or if you’ve been so focused on other things that this cleanup is allowed to drop down the to do list, like me, at some point you have to bite the bullet and get to the business of getting it cleaned. This was that time.  I dragged my brother over to the NOC and we gathered up about 20 or 21 dead boxes and assorted other material that was making moving around in the cage a dance. Today, I broke out anything usable from those boxes, prepped the drives for destruction, and hauled all the servers out. I should know better than to do all that on one day – but as I was feeling uberproductive, and have felt that way since my battle with the stomach bug, I just wanted to knock it out. I did. Now my back is paying for it. Multiply the number of servers time 35-40 pounds apiece, handled several times from start to finish to determine workability, and that would probably be why. Still good exercise for the upcoming gardening season.

Local dinner

Before I was stricken with that nasty bug, I had harvested some broccoli and carrots from the garden.

We’re ready for our closeup, Mr. DeMille.

Don’t forget us!

I figure you shouldn’t leave fresh vegetables all cleaned up with nowhere to go. Einstein agrees. You can tell.

What to make? We were feeling like a little stirfry: carrots and broccoli right from the garden, and beef from the quarter cow we bought from a (local) producer.

Grass-fed beef, marinating.

The beef went in first, with various spices and a little soy.

The carrots, broccoli, water chestnuts, and bamboo shoots went in, with another round of seasonings and a little liquid.

Serve it over rice, and you have a healthy, homemade meal that didn’t take terribly long to put together. This is my plate – I skip the water chestnuts and bamboo.

Good stuff, but I think I’m having an issue with rice as a cause of heartburn for me. Both after that meal and after tonight’s (black eyed peas, rice, cornbread), a dose of pepto was definitely in order. Suppose I’ll have to test this theory, even though if it is true, it involves at least one more round of this burn. The things we do for science…

Getting things done

I spent the day today Getting Things Done. This is an important and necessary kind of day, especially after being reduced to virtually nothing productive for three days in a row.

First up, the ENT who did my surgery. It’s amazing to think about it now, but this July will be the fourth year out from my surgery. I still do not have full mobility in my left arm and neck (and probably never will), the scars and lack of muscle on that side are quite clear even from a cursory glance (and always will be), and my mouth and tongue are still very sensistive to things like spicy food (whether that will change seems to depend on who I ask).  At first, I was seeing him once a month. That went to every other month, then to every four months, and after today’s visit is now at a six month spread. That’s progress! Everything looks fine, no lumps or anything else that can be seen or felt either in my mouth or in my neck.  It’s probably about time for another PET scan over with the oncology folks, since it’s been a bit since the last one.

Next stop: the accountant, to drop off the various papers and the backup file from our accounting software so they can get my taxes going. The past four years have all been extension years because of the various things that have been going on, from buying out the business partner to dealing with the medical issues. This year, though, we’re aiming for no extension. Corporate taxes are due on March 15, and I’d like to be signing off at that time to take this off the to-do list.

From there, it was off to the NOC. Here’s a tip: if you do not know how to check the amount of memory that is in your server, it’s probably not a wise idea to request that the memory be “increased to 2 gigs” unless you are absolutely sure that it doesn’t already have two gigs of memory – or, in this case, already have three gigs of memory. Because when I scrape the back of my hand and tear off a dime sized piece of skin when removing the cover from the server to have a look – as I was silly and violated the first rule of the tech world (“Never trust what the user says.”) – I’ll be cursing you up and down as I head for the first aid kit.

Finally, off to the grocery store to pick up a couple of things and my antibiotic prescription (from the dentist for the root canals, since the mouth is a festering pit of bacteria). And home once more, to finally have something to eat and get back to work. I was feeling better Thursday, but today I really did feel back to myself.

And this final item will come as a surprise to some people: I had no coffee at all from Monday afternoon to Friday morning, due to the gastro problems. My own personal detox, I suppose, although I imagine there are better ways to go about it. I’ve found that the antibiotics are not making coffee drinking a pleasant experience anyway, as they are reacting badly with one another and giving me heartburn.


For the past couple of days, I’ve been laid low by some kind of viral thingy – gastro, from how it feels/felt. Tuesday morning, I finally went to bed around 1 AM or so. It took about 30 minutes to get to sleep, and then once again, I was awake, somewhere around 4 AM, feeling like I’d been run over by a truck. Since I couldn’t decide if I wanted to throw up, spend some quality time on the john, try to down some Tums for the heartburn, or just crawl out into the yard and lie there in the moonlight, I just laid there in bed for a couple of hours until I finally got back to sleep. After letting the dogs out (and in) around 7-ish, I crawled back in the bed. Up again a bit later, tried the couch. Back to bed. And so on. Nasty, vicious cycle. I don’t recommend it, or the pain in the hips and joints for those of us not accustomed to spending more than a few hours at a time sleeping (or attempting to sleep).

Still, today is much, much better, and I’m actually hungry as I type this. Might be time for the kid to go scrounge some food.


Spent a bit of time outside, the sun on my face, enjoying the fresh air warmed by the magic of a turning season.

The carrots went in the frames in early October, as seed, not transplants. By this time, even with the cooler weather, I figured most, if not all, should be completely ready to come out. This is not the case. There were, to be sure, a great many to pull.

Two pounds, two ounces worth, actually.

The celery has survived being planted as seed, through torrential downpours, frosts, and hard freezes without cover and cheerfully continues what I hope will be a fruitful journey.

To remind me that while I may be the master of my domain, there are canny – or lucky – creatures out here as well, I also found poo inside the fenced area, although there were no tracks in any of the frames and no obvious easily accessible hole in the fencing.

There is also a weed I have yet to identify growing absolutely everywhere.

I pull the weeds I find and drop them on some black plastic to allow them to roast in the sun.

The broccoli was right on schedule based on its planting date out in the frames. Like the celery, it survived some rather brutal weather for a plant and came out the other side suitable for harvesting.

About twelve ounces of broccoli from seven plants, which I judge to be quite fine for their experience with the elements. Of course, what good is a harvest if you don’t do something with it…

Lazy day

I had plans today, I really did. Gorgeous day, which means outside time, in the garden.

As it turned out, Mom and I wound up taking a short hop to Whole Foods, to look at chicken – comparing costs of organic chicken from various places to the pricing from our source in Lake City – and pick up a few things, like buffalo mozzarella and, amazingly enough, raw milk (marked, appropriately, as for pet food only).

The boys were making breakfast when we got back, carving up thick slices of the bread I made for french toast. After a breakfast break, I intended to go outside, but wound up having a nap instead. My energy levels have been rather low lately, because I’m not getting enough good sleep, not eating enough, or because of the meds (or a combination of all of the above). When I got up, my sister was here, with the baby, and the kids were playing Scrabble. So, instead of going outside, I did a few work-related things and then made dinner while they moved on to cards.

Honey barbeque chicken tenders. I carved up some breasts, gave them a tumble in a flour mixture, fried them for a couple of minutes, then dipped them in barbeque sauce and honey and stuck them in the oven to finish.

We had some green beans and potatoes with parsley and garlic.

The little man loved it.

So did the other little man and his cohorts, when I dropped a couple of tenders trying to pack them away.

Tomorrow, as they say, is another day. Bread, for certain, but I’d really like to get out and get the peanuts going, along with the next rounds of potatoes, and replace the beans that killed themselves by coming up right before the hard freeze. It’s also time to take another look at the flats and see which of the seeds just are not pulling their weight and replace them with something else. I found one seedling that came up, but after a few days, the stem thinned to the width of a thread and it fell over, dying. Since the other seedlings haven’t exhibited the same thing, I’m not overly concerned about them falling face first into the soil – just one of those wonderful variations in the natural world.

Waiting for spring

This is what happens to my hands in very cold weather.

Those are cracks. Yes, they hurt. Yes, they bleed. Luckily for me, extreme cold doesn’t last very long here, and this will clear up in no time.

On tap today: more bread.

Enough for another three loaves of bread. One of those loaves is now down to a quarter of its size, only 30 minutes out of the oven. Tomorrow will be another bread day, I can feel it.

The seedlings went back outside to bask in the full, warm sunshine.

We brought them back in for tonight, as there’s frost (but no freeze) forecast for the area. Better safe than sorry, at least while they’re portable.

We are definitely having broccoli with dinner tomorrow night.

(Sidebar: you know, if you don’t want to renew a domain, perhaps notifying us of that fact when the invoice is generated would be better than telling us this when the invoice is processed – and the domain subsequently renewed. The renewal invoice generates in advance, after all.)

The cheddar cauliflower, alas, did not make it through the hard freeze Thursday night. There are apparently limits for it, and the upper teens plus a windchill in the single digits was not an environment it likes. No problem: I have more cauliflower seeds started in the flats.

The garlic is doing quite well, judging from the tops.

I can’t wait to start pulling some, to get a good look at it.

The brussels survived the freezes and are starting to take shape.

Shouldn’t be too much longer for these, which is good news for the people who actually eat these things.

The new round of peas (mostly) made it through the freezes this week.

There are a few here and there that look iffy at best. If they don’t perk up, I’ll pull them and reseed those. The snap beans that had come up all withered in the freeze and must be replanted.

While I was watering and weeding, and checking for damage, it felt like I was being watched.

And so I was, in a way.