Another day

Another root canal. One of the rather unfortunate side effects of having your head blasted with radiation, I’m afraid. By the time I’m finished, I’ll probably have an entire mouth full of root canals and crowns. The procedures are quite painful, and not because of the root canals themselves (although those are painful while they’re being done): rather, the pain is in my jaw and the connective tissue in my mouth from having to open as widely as possible so they can work at the back of my mouth. They had someone training today, as well – how lucky was she to get to assist on my appointment? Two hours and fifteen minutes later, part one of the procedure was done. Canals found, drilled, filled. Next time we get to do the remainder of the buildup, and then the attempts begin to get an impression of a crown. On the plus side, the vicodin knocks the aftereffect pain down to manageable levels and after about three or four days, things are back to as normal as they can be.

This morning it was 18 degrees when I left the house, with ice all over the car. There are reasons I don’t live up north. This is one of them. I checked out the new pea sprouts, and they appear to have made it through – atleast, they were all standing, frozen – but the beans didn’t like the hard cold snap at all and I didn’t see a single sprout left. Luckily, I have a large bag of bean seed, since my uncle requested some, and we want to do a lot of canning of beans and peas this spring before the weather gets too hot and it’s time to yank them out. Tonight, with any luck, will be the final freeze of the season, and work can begin in earnest outside. The flats return to the great outdoors tomorrow and will stay there, basking in the glory and heat of the sunshine.

Several of the heirloom tomatoes have sprouted, but I can already see one that has snapped at the base of the stem. Since they’re inside, there is no real reason for that to happen, and I’m afraid that some of these varieties don’t want to work for me here. That’s fine: I’ll just replace them with somthing else. This weekend, it will be time to pull the original pea sets and take some photos of what’s going on out there in the garden. The brussels have little sprouts on their stems, and about time, at that. There should be some broccoli for harvest, and the garlics will be coming into the end of their season, ready for pulling and hanging.

We are coming up on spring, and that means spring cleaning – of the cages at the NOC. I forced the boy to come along for the ride, and we pulled out a dozen old servers and old hard drives that need to be destroyed. My goal for the weekend: scavenge the servers for spare parts, replace the drives in a couple that are fine but need larger drives and more memory, and get the dead/replaced drives ready to go to that big bit bucket in the sky.

What a life. We still need to go through some of the cheesemaking projects we have planned. We did a round of mozzarella, which was quite delicious, and worth another round for our homemade pizzas. Next up, some simpler items, like cottage cheese (we made this in my AP Chemistry class, back in the day, and I recall only myself and a couple of others were willing to eat it) and ricotta. Then, some more ambitious plans, like our own cheddar, with a homemade cheese press. That’s going to be something, and yet another experiement to document for the blog here. I wouldn’t mind trying some parmesan, too. Eventually, our raw milk supplier will be able to provide some more milk, or we’ll just go get some elsewhere, because mom found an old fashioned butter churn that we’re anxious to try. Plus, that milk will be better for cheesemaking than the ultra-pasteurized stuff in most cases.

Gonna be a good year for all these sorts of things. I can feel it. And I don’t think that’s just the pain meds talking, either.

The count is on

“I wonder how many tomato plants I’ve started.”

That’s what Stacy said the other day.

I know exactly how many tomato seeds I’ve put in: 127. Total varieties: 27.

Admittedly, I probably will not get that many transplants, although it won’t be for lack of trying. Some of the seeds simply have poor germination rates, especially some of the heirlooms that I have from last year. Last year, several had a zero percent germination rate, in tests varying from three to nine seeds. I’m trying most of them again this year, to see what we get. At worst, we get nothing. At best, everything comes up and we’re up to our eyeballs in tomatoes. The reality will likely be somewhere in between those extremes. Now, if we could just get rid of this very un-Florida-like weather and get to spring, already.

Hunting chicks

The hunt is on for a few chicks of the two legged variety.

What, you thought that meant something else? Sickos.

We’re trying to find another five or six chicks to go with the lonely girl out back. The group with which we ordered the chickens last year don’t need any more, got rid of theirs because of complaints from the neighbors, or are out of town (turns out one of the group is the daughter of the founder of Habitat for Humanity, who died this week). The problem with chickens – or, rather, chicks – is this: most hatcheries will not ship for orders fewer than 25 assorted chicks. Like my tender seedlings, curently sitting inside on the table here, they need to stay warm. More peeps equals more heat, and a better chance of all of them making it through the shipping process.

So, we’re looking locally to see if any of the more rural supply and feed stores will have chicks available. Eggs for everyone!

(Short interjection here to complain about people who send frivolous legal threats to us about a site we host, where said site has zero content, claiming that we are somehow infringing on their rights. Engage your brain before you fire off nonsense like that, people. Or at least engage an attorney.)

I thought today would be a good day to get out and do some maintenance outside – specifically, putting down mulch between the frames. Mild weather, coolish, perfect for that heavy lifting job. The problem is, the weather was much too mild, barely reaching 40 degrees here, with windchills in the 20s. That is not, to me, a “good day” to be outside. My pea and bean plants out there are probably going to bite it tonight, since it’s supposed to be around 18 here inland. While peas can take a bit of frost, I don’t know if they can take that kind of hard freeze – although the peas did come up out of the ground after a couple of nights of hard freeze, so there may be hope for them. Everything else will have to take its chances as well: the original batch of peas are due to come out of the frames to make way for the corn that will go in that spot in March. The broccoli and brussels should be able to handle the freeze without cover. Carrots and parnips? Fine in place in the frames.

Best and worst

Ads, that is. Specifically, Super Bowl ads. This year’s crop was mostly lackluster and seemed to involve much more violence than years past – although one of my favorites from previous years is the FedEx ad where the caveman kicks some poor prehistoric creature and then gets stomped on by something much, much larger.

This year, though, a year of difficult economics and ongoing wars in faraway places, seemed to bring out the brute in the advertisers. I watched most of them though, because they were about as interesting as the first three quarters of the game. A couple, in fact, were more interesting than the game through those first three quarters.

Bud Light wants us to know that suggesting not buying the beer for a company meeting in order to cut costs will get you shoved out a second or third story window by your peers. I wish someone had brought the beer to meetings when I was in the corporate world. As it stands, we (geeks) only got pizza and caffeine. C+

Angels and Demons (movie trailer): Snooze. I’m not a fan of Dan Brown’s writing at all. At least Tom Hanks has a decent haircut for this one, unlike that mop he had for The DaVinci Code. D.

Audi: The Transporter makes his getaway through the years, in various models from Audi. Who among us of my age or older doesn’t remember the preppy dorks with the sweaters tied at the sleeves around their necks, holding that monster of a cellphone? Just a fun ad.  A.

Cheetos: Get rid of annoying, self-important bitches by throwing Cheetos on the ground under her and causing pigeons to swarm en masse, a la The Birds. I’d rather eat Cheetos myself, but hey, whatever works. B+.

Pepsi: Bob Dylan and team up for “Forever Young”, to remind people even older than me that they can still be hip and drink Pepsi. When I drank sodas, I preferred Coke over Pepsi. B-.

Doritos: A snowglobe subs as a Magic 8 Ball, telling us there will be free Doritos (when someone flings the globe at a vending machine) but alas, no raise (courtesy of someone flinging the globe into the nads of the boss). Workplaces are a bit macabre this year. B.

Budweiser: Conan O’Brien is assured that the ad he finally agrees to do will only be shown in Sweden. Not counting the splash it makes across Times Square. Meh, although the 80s retro-Swedish thing they had going for “drinkability” was mildly amusing. B.

Year One (movie trailer): At first, I thought someone was remaking History of the World, Part One. Instead, it’s Jack Black and Michael Cera at the dawn of mankind. The trailer shows exactly the sort of humor one would expect, and I doubt anyone will be going looking for the answers to the meaning of life or even the sort of sly comedy that can be found in this movie’s doppelganger (then again, it’s hard to do snarky comedy as well as Mel Brooks does). B-.

Toyota: Venza? No. D.

Bridgestone: Mrs. Potatohead yammering at Mr. Potatohead, cutesy comedic moment (“Sheeeeeeeeep!”), she loses her lips, they bounce away, still talking, she puts on her angry eyes, he smiles, they drive away. With all the violence in the ads, I halfway expected them to slam into the back of a wire mesh something or other and have one of them made into french fries. I suppose that wouldn’t have been a good ad for a tire company. C-.

Fast and Furious (movie trailer): I love how they leave the number off the end of this. It’s number four, as it happens, but who’s counting? Fast cars, explosions, hot women. I saw a previous trailer of this movie that basically tells the entire movie – something I’ve always wondered about, since what’s the point of going to the show if you can tell what happens from the trailer? Anyway, we know this will make a lot of money, but why buy ad time on one of the most expensive nights to run ads for something that’s a lock? B-.

Castrol: Buying this motor oil will make monkeys suddenly fly out of your butt. No, not really. They’ll just show up at your house to work on your car – get it? grease monkeys! – and then you’ll kiss one. B.

Land of the Lost (movie trailer): Will Ferrell ruins one of my favorite childhood shows, campy as it was. Thanks a lot, Hollywood. B-.

Doritos: It’s magic, but apparently (and obviously) targeted for the manly, heterosexual men who watch football. Women drop their clothes, you get rich, cops dissolve like the Wicked Witch of the West, all due to the magic chips in a Doritos bag. Until you run out. Then you get hit by a bus and stick there like a fly that went splat. D.

Sprint: It’s been a long time since I’ve flown anywhere, and it will be a long time before I fly again, because of the nightmare that is air travel these days. If roadies ran the show, though, I might be inclined to change my mind. This and the Callahan ad from Sprint are both good. B+.

Monsters versus Aliens (movie trailer): One of the 3D ads, for which none of us had glasses. Bummer. No one in this house had goggles courtesy of any alcohol haze, either. C.

GoDaddy: GoDaddy ads suck, in my opinion, and always have. Don’t like the founder, don’t like their sleazy ads, including this one where geeks put naked women in the shower, via their computer. They must be paying Danica Patrick a racecar full of money. F.

Frosted Flakes: After your kid eats a bowl of sugar, send them out to the fields we’re building to run off their temporary energy. Or something to that effect. D-.

Heineken: John  Turturro waxing philosophical does not make me want to drink your beer, especially when he sounds like some people I know when they’ve had a few over their limit. C-.

Pepsi: One of the better ads during the evening. Bowling ball dropped on the noggin? “I’m good.” Socked in the face with a golf club? “I’m good.” And so on. Amusing physical comedy, with a reminder that you can be a man, take whatever knocks life doles out, and still drink a Pepsi (or a diet Pepsi). A-.

Pedigree: Another good ad, showing the dangers of having pets other than dogs – like a rhino, an ostrich, or a warthog. Picking up warthog poo would definitely be a job for Mike Rowe. A.

Budwesier: The first of three ads featuring the Clydesdale horses. The dalmation (we saw him previously in the Rocky-esque ads) fetches a stick, gets an atta-boy. The Clydesdale fetches a huge branch from a tree. I think I’d have preferred something else. A canoe, a beer wagon, or a small car. Harmless ad, but dull. C.

Budwesier: Third generation Clydesdale, speaking with a Scottish brogue. C+.

NBC: Heroes. Never got into it, don’t watch it. Probably never will. B-.

Budweiser: The other Clydesdale ad, featuring the love of the Clydesdale’s life, who is regrettably in the circus and taken away. He breaks away, tracks her down, she flips the circus performer off her back, and they run away together. Better than the other ad. B.

Star Trek (movie trailer): After the Star Wars films, one of the the most anticipated movies, and this trailer was the best you could do? C-.

Gatorade: The finale to those “G” commercials that have been on.  G stands for Gatorade. Who would have guessed that, what with all the athletes talking about performance? B-.

Race to Witch Mountain (movie trailer): The Rock protects two kids. Or are they? C-.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (movie trailer): There are robots and explosions. And stuff. B-.

Toyota: If you ever have to drive through the fifth circle of hell – also known as August here – apparently the Tundra can take it. I did mention to my family, though, that the use of the word “tranny” was probably going to cause some folks to think of something other than what they intended. C.

Priceline: Shatner does his schtick. B-. Carlos Boozer, bling, and a bunch of kids. Boring. C-.

Universal Orlando: Be a hero, take your family to an amusement park. B.

Coke: Everyone’s an avatar in this day and age. Until they have a Coke, allowing them to just be regular people again. B-.

Pepsi: Pepsuber. Pepstupid is more like it. D.

Bud Light: The lime in the beer will cocoon you in a bubble of spring. Most people I know who drink a lot already have a cocoon about them that really doesn’t need any enhancement. C-.

CareerBuilder: Repetition. Then add an element. Repetition. Then add an element. Then add another element. Repetition. And so on. I know some people hate that sort of ad, but it’s effective here because it does really give the flavor of some of the dullest jobs I’ve ever held. A-.

Bridgestone: People will steal your tires when you buy them from us, even on the moon. Odd. C. You may be the most confident person in the world, able to perform open heart surgery with a ballpoint pen from a bystander and tell the dean of a prestigious school that his job is yours, but you still can’t buy a car without the butterflies acting up in your stomach. B.

Hyundai: Bunch of bosses angry at their people because Hyundai won an award. B.

E*Trade: The talking baby creeps me out in these ads, just like it did in the Quiznos ads. B-.

Pixar (movie trailer): A flight of fancy, literally, for the movie Up. B+.

Denny’s: Because even hit men need to eat. D-. Sometimes you get the moose head mounted on your office wall, and sometimes you get the ass end standing on your desk. B-.

GoDaddy: Another sucktastic ad. F.

Bud Light: Drinkability, this time in English, with obstacles drawn in to trip up unsuspecting people skiing down a very large mountain. C.

H&R Block: They do your taxes, then send Death after the bum who missed those extra deductions for you. C.

Teleflora: Talking flowers that rank right up there with the Tide talking stain. C-. Not really an ad, but an invitation to a contest involving the NFL. C-.

SoBe Lifewater: Another 3D ad, with Ray Lewis, and two other guys it took me a few minutes to place (Matt Light and Justin Tuck) in a ballet with lizards, performing Swan – excuse me, Lizard Lake. Amusing. B.

Coke Zero: Troy Polamalu does a takeoff on the original Mean Joe Greene Coke ad from 30 years ago. Even though I doubt many of the younger folks have seen the original or know what it’s about, the spot is amusing on its own. B+. Ed McMahon and MC Hammer sell off their bling to pay the bills. B+.

Vizio: “You’re an idiot becuse you didn’t buy our television”. D.

Taco Bell: Creepy stalker guy wants to fast track a relationship with a woman he just met. D. Alec Baldwin at his snarkiest. Yes, it is an evil plot to destroy the world. At least they’re up front about it. A.

Coke: The bugs are after the sugary essence that is Coke, and band together to heist a bottle from a sleepy guy on a picnic. Beautiful effect of butterflies breaking apart and flying away after impersonating the bottle at his hand. A.

I made more notes than I thought. While we’re on the subject of ads, though, a couple of items also come to mind. Those new Geico ads with the eyeballs on top of the stack of money? Don’t like them. And speaking of Geico, there’s one thing that’s bugged me for a long time about the Caveman versus Billie Jean King spot (BJK looks good for her age, too): why does he believe he’s winning the match? Was there something left on the cutting room floor from the beginning that we missed? Or are we supposed to just assume he is either an idiot living in his own fantasty world or that Geico has rigged everything against him because they’re the sponsor?


I am officially giving up trying to figure out why people have to be douchebags. Not just that, actually: why they have to be lying douchebags, about things that are so easily checked that it would be laughable if it were not so insulting. For instance: don’t try to tell me that you get “thousands” of pieces of spam a day that you then have to clean from your mailbox. We can check the logs, you know. We can see exactly what has been delivered and exactly what is sitting in that mailbox and exactly the time that mailbox was last checked. We know you receive maybe – maybe – 30 pieces of mail a day, almost all of which is spam and which we can see is deleted by the scanner, with the other three to six pieces of mail delivering because they are not, in fact, spam. Don’t try to tell me that you’re missing our billing invoices because of this supposed spam problem you’re having here when the billing address is at another provider entirely – can’t you see the failure of logic in just suggesting that? And don’t tell me the responses you’ve received to the very, very infrequent tickets you’ve opened have been short with just a “sorry – server’s busy” answer. We can look at the tickets you’ve opened and see that there’s nothing of the sort in them, and there are some very lengthy responses from us with quite a bit of detail about various things in there, almost nothing of which is related to this supposed horrendous spam problem you have. Beyond that, you haven’t opened a ticket since February of last year. One would think that for such an issue of such importance would have resulted in a ticket or ten in the span of a year. And finally, don’t try to keep changing your claims on subsequent emails, to things even more absurd. It won’t make you look any less foolish. Nor will informing us after three rounds of long emails that you’re not going to “waste” your valuable time doing our job – which, by the way, we haven’t asked you to do.

And that was my tipping point today. Yet another asshat who apparently knows more about running servers and networks than we ever will, lecturing me about a massive and entirely nonexistent spam problem. So for them, I say: fuck it. I will reserve my caring for the people who don’t pretend to know more than they actually know and/or who genuinely need assistance with something. Like the guy who needs help resetting his email client to pick up his mail because he managed to delete it somehow and the woman whose forum was attacked by porno spammers. For those occasions – rare though they are – when assholes like the lecturer appear, bitching for no reason whatsoever, they’ll get an answer to whatever the actual issue is (if there is one), and we’ll move on without even bothering with the nonsense they’re spewing. There’s gardening to be done. Menus to be planned. And there are these guys.

Best buddies.

All of which is much more enjoyable (helping people who need it is really my downfall, gardening brings good things to the table, food keeps people filled, and the animals are darned cute) and much less stressful (well, maybe beyond picking and squishing hornworms, which can be rather icky) than exerting any energy on miserable people.

Tonight begins what will hopefully be the last cold snap for us. I’m also hopeful that the new round of peas and beans, getting a very nice start out there, will make it through (especially tomorrow, which is supposed to be around 20 or so, and then the crazy kicks back in by the weekend when it’s supposed to be 70 here). March is just around the corner, and March around here means time to plant corn. When even Mom is over the cold, cold weather, you know it’s time for spring.

Dumbass of the day

That would have to be this guy, who I suppose by his own Illogic 101 doesn’t have a job that was created by the government. And didn’t have one when he was Lt. Gov., either. And all those emergency services people working at the federal, state, and local level? No jobs for them, either. Military personnel? Nope. And on and on. It’s hard to believe the depths of stupidity this one statement encompasses.

Another month rolls by

Another day turning into another month. The Big Game is on today, and I seem to recall something else scheduled as well. What could it be?

Ah, right.

The Boy’s birthday. Said Boy would like everyone to know that the sunset photo from that cold, cold night in January was taken by him. He was out in the front of the property, with me, taking photos while I was hustling to get things covered before the light disappeared completely. Slacker. I kid, I kid. He did assist and we got everything bundled up that night.

His birthday dinner: steak, baked potatoes, broccoli au gratin. As bonuses, guacamole…

and a couple of batches of homemade ice cream, at Gabrielle’s request. Strawberry and an experiment on my part:

That is chocolate espresso. Judged by mom and Gabs to be fine indeed. Me, I drink quite a bit of coffee, but the only coffee-flavored thing I like is…coffee.

We had our official taster standing by.

He had quite a bit of guacamole earlier – who knew he would like it so much? – but there was something else that had to be tested.

Hmm. Ever so piquant, and thoroughly enjoyable buttercream, with dazzling colors.

The full effect on the palate canot be overstated.

Highly recommended. Cake for all!