Wednesday, July 16 2003

Attack of the killer ants!

Brian Tiemann has an ant problem. No surprise there; I think it’s on the Universal New House Checklist, right after “otherwise quiet neighbor with yapping dog.” What surprised me, though, was that he was willing to accept their presence in the house as long as they didn’t get too aggressive.

Not me. Slaughter-and-sanitize is my motto, and their right to life ends with the very first bread crumb.

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Wednesday, July 30 2003


As a happy suburbanite, I like having an attractive yard. As a mostly-nocturnal, white-collar kind of guy, though, I don’t like actually going out there and doing the work myself.

I just met with my favorite landscaping contractor (Richard’s and Adan’s Landscape - Maintenance, serving Monterey County, CA) yesterday to have him trim, weed, and replant my front and back yards. Fairly basic stuff, but the jasmine is taking over the sidewalk, one of the trees is growing so well that it’s tearing itself apart in the wind, the weeds grew four feet high while my back was turned, and about a third of the plants front and back have died from my benign neglect.

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Friday, August 15 2003

Interior decorating

I’m not in the market for a mail-order bride, but if I were, this is the gal for me. I took two years of German around the time she was born; we could work through the language barrier.

Monday, September 8 2003

Big food

A relatively constant factor in my life is the weekend gaming/cooking session with friends. We have a large stable of entertaining games from companies like Cheapass, Steve Jackson, and (pre-Hasbro) Wizards of the Coast, and an Xbox or two. The recipes come from a variety of sources, including my still-under-construction online cookbook, built from assorted MasterCook-format archives.

This weekend was at my place, which gave me an excuse to do some massive house-cleaning and show off my newly-completed landscaping. Since I had so much cleaning work to do, I insisted that the meal should be relatively simple, which meant steaks.

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Sunday, June 6 2004

Russian brides on tour!

While driving up 101 yesterday, I spotted an RV with a big banner on the side advertising Golden Ring Brides. They had apparently set up their “mobile office” at the Gilroy Outlet Mall, showing off their wares and perhaps hoping for some impulse buys on discontinued merchandise and seconds. Or something like that.

It looks like a pretty typical email-order-bride service. Most of the competition seems to offer more personal details about their product line without requiring registration, but how many others will tell you about her military experience?

That’s right, every product description includes Martial status. It looks like most of them have seen only light combat in a single engagement. At least, I think that’s what they mean…

I’m not in the market myself, although I do enjoy kicking tires, which makes the omission of personal details a real bummer. It’s fun to read a few dozen future-fiancées describe the man they’re looking for, because when you boil it down, most of them are really looking for a dog. Specifically, a Golden Retriever.

These are lovable, well-mannered, intelligent dogs with a great charm. They are easily trained, and always patient and gentle with children. Loyal, confident, sweet and eager to please. It is active, loving and an outstanding family dog. Golden Retrievers enjoy pleasing their masters, so obedience training can be fun. They excel in obedience competitions. Friendly with everyone, including other dogs, the Golden Retriever has very little, if any, guarding instincts. While unlikely to attack, Goldens make good watchdogs, loudly signaling a stranger’s approach. This breed needs to be around people to be happy. If isolated from human contact, or left alone for long periods of time, the Golden Retriever may become mischievous. They can be over-exuberant and distractible. Some of the Golden’s talents are hunting, tracking, retrieving, narcotics detection, agility, competitive obedience, and performing tricks. These dogs also love to swim.

Last thoughts about Golden Ring: their logo is, um, rather disturbing from the man’s point of view, Alexandra Shorina could make a bundle as a pin-up model or (exotic) dancer, if she’s not already doing so, and Julia Kruglova looks like a real catch. Something about the way she smiles.

But she’ll be a catch for someone else, because I’m not currently interested in marrying women who are already here, much less going to the trouble to import one.

Sunday, October 31 2004

Little monsters

Not a bad night for trick-or-treaters. 60 degrees and clear skies brought nearly twice as many kids to my house as last year, so I went through about 35 pounds of candy. I’ll try not to eat the remaining 15 pounds of the stuff myself.

Update: dumped the leftover candy in the breakroom at work. It’s all gone now.

Monday, June 5 2006

Outdoor cooking, Bad Haiku Edition

A leftover steak!
Kosher salt, black pepper, and
a really hot fire…
In the hornet nest,
an oppressive heat begins.
Hey, it’s my grill, guys.

Friday, September 15 2006

New fridge good

After the violent death of my not-so-very-old fridge, I found several things to like about the new one.

First, it showed up an hour early.

Second, it has a button labeled Rapid Cool, which does exactly what it sounds like. The intended use is for when you’ve had the door open for a while, or you’ve just put something large and warm inside (like a big pot of leftovers), but I saw no reason not to push it as soon as it was installed, and about an hour later it was cold enough to stock with food.

Third, it has a button labeled Quick Cubes, which also does exactly what it sounds like. It adjusts the freezer compartment to optimize for making ice cubes, which is perfect for breaking in a new fridge, where you want to throw the first batch of cubes away.

Fourth, the french doors reclaim about a foot of clearance in my kitchen, making it slightly more practical to have two people trying to cook at the same time. The bottom freezer comes out quite a ways, but you don’t open that as often in the middle of cooking.

Fifth, it has an extra door seal between the french doors, and an audible alarm if the doors stay open for too long. Fridges that don’t always close reliably can ruin a lot of food. Not as thoroughly as ones that break down while you’re out of town for a week, but close.

Sixth, it has a full-width, full-depth, pull-out meat drawer. Actually, I should probably have listed that first…

It looks like you can’t link directly to product pages at Sears’ web site, but if you click on appliances and then type 76602 into the search box, you’ll see what I bought.

Sunday, November 12 2006

I have dreaded the coming of this day…

No, not the Democrats briefly acquiring power in Congress. Something serious: a lightbulb burned out in my foyer. 25 feet above ground.

I own one of those telescoping lightbulb-changing poles, but I’ve never had much confidence in its ability to grab onto the bulb firmly, and I really don’t feel like cleaning up broken glass, so I guess it’s time to drag the big ladder inside and climb up there. I think I’ll change both bulbs while I’m up there, since the other one is sure to go soon.

Friday, November 24 2006

Well, now, there’s a bit of a surprise

From the nice folks at the National Weather Service, via the new Dashboard widget:

259 PM PST FRI NOV 24 2006 …Frost advisory in effect from 2 AM to 8 AM PST Saturday…

The National Weather Service in San Francisco has issued a frost advisory…which is in effect from 2 AM to 8 AM PST Saturday.

Further drying was expecrienced today as dew points continued to drop across much of the Salinas Valley. Relatively clear skies tonight combined with low dew points will allow overnight lows to tumble into the upper 20s and lower 30s. Areas of frost will likely develop as several hours of near freezing temperatures are experienced.

A frost advisory means that frost is possible. Sensitive outdoor plants may be killed if left uncovered.

Wednesday, December 20 2006

Bugzilla by candlelight

I’m cursed. I basically have until the end of this week to finish up my last round of Bugzilla work for Digeo before we kiss each other goodbye. I could do it during Christmas week, but the only person there whose opinion I still give a damn about wouldn’t be around to verify that it’s what she wanted.

Naturally, I’ve lost power three times so far this evening, and the night is still young.

[update: and again, for another 20 minutes]

Wednesday, October 1 2008

Not the best way, but effective

I had planned to take a few days off work to relax, maybe do a little cleaning around the house, catch up on my Japanese studies, pay a few bills, perhaps even watch a little anime. Your basic five-day weekend.

Then I caught a cold, and by the middle of last week, was feeling pretty miserable. I spent the first two days of my mini-vacation lying around the house with a box of tissues and my last remaining caffeine sources. On Sunday, I finally managed to get a start on my spring cleaning. Spring 2007, that is.

Good thing, too, because I’m refinancing the house, and the appraiser was going to show up on Tuesday afternoon. I didn’t need to impress him with my housekeeping skills, but I did need him to be able to get into every room without tripping over the clutter or sneezing himself to death in the dust.

I’m not a very good housekeeper, you see. I’m a clutter-slob, and my usual practice is to let the stacks of books and piles of clean laundry accumulate until I can’t find a path from A to B, then spend a day tidying and call in a maid service to do the actual cleaning.

Unfortunately, I’ve been pretty busy at my current startup (now in 250 Best Buy locations, arriving in all Micro Center and Frys Electronics soon!), my office is 75 miles from my house, and I rarely have the (sweet, satisfying) luxury of telecommuting. The house has basically become an oversized hotel room that doesn’t have a housekeeping staff. The nicest thing I can say about it is that it didn’t smell; I can tolerate almost infinite clutter, but I can’t stand a mess.

[this, by the way, made life interesting in my rental days; clutter-slobs should never share a place with mess-slobs, but even worse is having two clutter-slobs reinforcing each others’ behaviors]

All told, I did about 24 hours of tidying, cleaning, and honest-to-gosh scrubbing around the house. By the time the appraiser arrived, I was getting unnerved by the sheer wrongness of having so much open floor space around the house, and I’d burned out most of the cold.

If I ever get the chance to retire, I’m hiring two maids. A sturdy middle-aged woman to do the cleaning, and a hot cosplaying coed to tidy up the clutter. Or maybe two of each.

Monday, November 24 2008

Wet seal

On Saturday, the city informed me that my street will be “slurry sealed” on Tuesday, blocking all traffic in and out between 7am and 5pm. We’ve also been asked not to water lawns or wash cars that day. I have two predictions.

1. some cars won’t get moved because their owners took Thanksgiving week off and are already out of town.

2. the sealing work will look awful and have to be redone, because if runoff from sprinklers can affect it, the 11 hours of rain that’s currently predicted will really wreck the job.

No doubt this planning was done by the same genius responsible for taking a 40 MPH corner that went around a vacant lot and converting it into a 15 MPH corner that goes around a major shopping center. And the frequent damage to the new guardrail demonstrates that they’re not kidding about the 15 MPH.

I’ll be staying at a motel tonight. The alternative is over-sleeping by ten minutes and being forced to skip class and work from home. Given the logistics of the thing, they’ll start with circles and dead-end streets, so even if they quit early because of rain, they’ll be doing my block first.

Friday, February 6 2009

Stretch Marketing

In the mailbox: a hearts-and-flowers promotional mailer from my car dealership, offering a sweetheart savings on… replacing the cabin air filter.

In email: a web-bug-filled promo from Asus that says: “Spread the Love. Give the Eee PC. “

If I open my front door, will I find a door tag from the local pest-control company, telling me that the best way to show my love is to get sprayed?

Tuesday, March 10 2009

Lingering effects

So I’ve been sick for about two weeks now, with whatever cold/flu/sinus bug is going around, and most likely I’m getting reinfected whenever I feel well enough to get out of the house and go into public. This is in addition to the problem I’ve been dealing with since June, where a combination of sinuses and “silent heartburn” conspired to wreck my voice.

And, of course, getting sick again made that problem even worse, to the point where I was in a conference call early Thursday morning dealing with the fallout from a power outage, and people could barely understand the frog-like sounds that came from my throat.

Off to the ENT again this afternoon. Hopefully he’ll have something better than “try taking Prilosec for three months”, which helped a little, but not enough.

[Update: …and the word for the day is “endoscopic fundoplication”; something to investigate when I get back from my upcoming vacation]

Friday, July 17 2009

Pop quiz…

It’s 10pm on a Friday night. When I open my windows to cool the place down, what do you suppose I hear?

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Wednesday, November 25 2009

No pictures yet,

… but I have uncled. Matthew Marion Greely was born this morning, making my brother Mike and his wife Polina into very happy, very tired, parents.

Welcome to Earth, little guy. You share a birthday with Poul Anderson, Ricardo Montalbán, Joe DiMaggio, Andrew Carnegie, Amy Grant, and the Bush twins, so we expect great things from you.

Friday, November 1 2013

Halloween monster report

A few Iron Men and Captains America, zombies male and female (including an undead prom queen), a pirate girl who could have been quite sexy if she’d been old enough for her taste in clothing, a lovely princess a few years shy of kissing her first frog, a teen witch who bought her stockings and heels at Fredericks of Hollywood and the rest of her costume at Toys R Us, and the usual assortment of ghosts, vampires, dinosaurs, ninjas, bears, cats, hungry teenagers, etc, many of them barely old enough to lisp out a “thank you”. The youngest were invariably accompanied by rather attractive mothers dressed up as Suburban MILFs.

[young teen girls with black-framed glasses in relatively normal clothing was a big thing this year; they looked to be dressed up as something, but beyond “cute nerd girl”, I couldn’t guess]

Since the neighbors at the end of the street started putting on a haunted house a few years ago, I’ve bumped up my candy supply. I give out large handfuls, so I figured 40 pounds wasn’t going to cut it this year, and bought 11 five-plus-pound bags at Costco. I had maybe a bag and a half left at 8:30. If they’d kept coming for another half-hour, I’d have been out.

Saturday, October 31 2015

Treat and Trick 2015

October 31st, the one day a year that Hello!Project costumes are not scary:

H!P Halloween, Mizuki Fukumura

Don’t worry, tomorrow they’ll be back to normal:

H!P Everyday, Chisato Okai

Meanwhile, I’ve got the promise of a cloudless sky for tonight’s candy-grab, so I stopped at Costco and picked up 75 pounds of supplies. I’m kind of bummed that this year’s non-chocolate assortment has replaced a lot of the standard goodies with things like Haribo, Hot Tamales, and Swedish Fish, though; I blame multiculturalism.

On the bright side, I’ll eat less of it. Or just eat from the chocolates, anyway…

[Update: 65 pounds out the door, last batch of little monsters at just after 9pm. A surprisingly traditional assortment this year, including one group of quite lovely young Japanese girls. In Japan, they’d be old enough for bikini DVDs, but since we have no U-12 idol industry, they went with the more American witch and princess looks.]

Saturday, June 11 2016

Some assembly required, French Ikea edition

When my family was visiting back around Christmas, I whined a bit about the previous year’s gift of a full set of large, heavy dishes to replace the lightweight, indestructible Corelle Ware that I was quite fond of. Not just because I didn’t need more dishes, but because I was already low on storage, and my brother had finally sent me my grandfather’s full set of monogrammed bar glassware. I said “what I really need is a good sideboard”, and twenty minutes later Mom called me over to show off several options she’d found on Wayfair.

The Parisot Ethan 6-footer was the one that fit best into the style and color of the rest of my kitchen, and they said it would be in stock on January 9th. So I figured that a few weeks into the new year, I’d have a place for my stuff.

Then the in-stock date got pushed back a few weeks. Then a few more. Then a few more. Finally, at 11:40am on April 1st, I received an in-stock email from Wayfair. At 7pm, I noticed the notice, placed the order, and was told it would ship on the 5th and arrive on the 12th. On the 5th, the ship date was revised to 5/16. On 5/17, the ship date was revised to 5/31. Mind you, I was billed on 4/1.

On the morning of 6/6, FedEx rang the bell and dropped off two large boxes containing a flat-packed sideboard and a small assembly pamphlet. (fortunately, Wayfair had a PDF of the assembly doc online, so the extent of the work required was not a surprise)

The “open first” box contained the instructions and a bag of parts. After carefully sorting and counting, I confirmed that they’d gotten it right:

Parisot Ethan sideboard assembly

(not pictured: drawer sliders, glue, and actual furniture components)

I did have to run out for replacement wood glue, though. The bottle I had was really old, and one of the two little tubes they shipped was punctured by a screw. Note to Parisot: next time, put the pointy things and the liquids in different baggies.

They estimate two hours, but I suspect they don’t include unpacking and sorting in that…

[Update: and done! Except for leveling the doors and drawers. And moving the bookshelf full of cookbooks that’s sitting where it needs to go. Etc, etc.]