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Candy, Free


As mentioned earlier, I bought almost exactly the right amount of candy this year, and if I hadn’t picked up a few boxes of full-sized bars as a reserve, I would have almost nothing left. 109 trick-or-treaters isn’t a record for my house, but it’s pretty respectable in an era where many kids can’t get more than thirty feet from their parents without either being scolded or taken away by social workers “for their own good”. Never mind that the tales of abductions and poisoned candy have gotten so stale that they’ve resorted to spinning yarns about evil-evil-thc-edibles.

In celebration, I offer these four-eyed cuties:

…never said the four eyes were evenly distributed…

Well, that was unexpected…


At least it would be unexpected anywhere outside of California, anyway. My power just blipped at home, like they quickly cut over from A to B somewhere along the line, the electrical equivalent of a California Rolling Stop. The side effect of this is that all the Philips Hue bulbs in the house came on at full brightness, and I couldn’t turn them back off until the hub booted up and reconnected to everything.

The Internet came back right away, at least, since I have my cable modem, router, and NAS all on UPS. And I’ve never lost anything else in the house to an outage, which I always attribute to the whole-house surge protector (which could well be a placebo, but I certainly used to lose things in outages, and I’ve got a lot more stuff plugged in these days…).

In other news, I really, really hope that the neighborhood kids show up in force for trick-or-treat tonight. Last year’s turnout was very disappointing, especially compared to the 130+ kids I had the year before.

Final Total

107 munchkins of assorted sizes. I went through about 65 pounds of candy, since it started off slow and I gave out extra-large handfuls (especially to the pretty girls; I am weak). Two more kids and I’d have had to break into the reserves (four boxes of full-sized bars and a big bag of Hi-Chew). So I’ve got maybe 10 pounds left over, which is much, much better than last year’s debacle.

Final Final Total

2 more teens showed up at 8:55 pm, so I gave them each a handful of the full-size bars.

New porch cat: Yan-nyan


The porch cat who showed up last week has been visiting more regularly, ambushing me when I get home or meowing at my door when I wake up, responding affectionately to petting and food. I was starting to call him Mooch, until this afternoon.

He was sunning himself in the yard when I went out to pick up the mail, ran up and rubbed against me and begged to be petted, then tried to follow me indoors. So I fed him and petted him.

A bit later, I went out to get something from the car, and he started up the chorus again, clearly looking for affection since he hadn’t finished all the food yet. In the time it took me to open up a cushion so I’d have a clean place to sit, he’d rubbed up against my legs and hands, and jumped up on the little side table to rub against my arms.

I sat down, and he eagerly crawled into my lap and leaned into the skritching and petting. Then he nipped at my hand. He continued purring and rubbing against me as I moved my hand away from his head and resumed doing the things he clearly appreciated (this would sound less dirty with a catgirl…). Then he nipped at my hand again. And again.

I wasn’t holding him in my lap, and he gave no signs of wanting to leave. After each nip, he’d let go and resume cuddling. He clearly wanted me to continue supplying affection, and he clearly wanted to bite my hand.

The next time he did it, his teeth broke the skin on the back of my hand, just enough to draw blood. For that he got the back of my other hand (lightly!), but still sat there wanting cuddles, like nothing was wrong. So I smacked him again to get him out of my lap, took the food dish away, and went inside.

He tried to follow me in, meowing for more attention.

Psycho kitty, I dub thee Yan-nyan.

(dramatization featuring Asuka Kishi)

Dear FedEx,


I have cameras watching the front door. Don’t lie to me.

2/28 Update

Package actually delivered today.

Except what Woot sent me wasn’t what I ordered.

Sigh.

Hey, where’s that water coming from?


Went outside to feed the neighborhood cat (down to Dumas these days), and found a large puddle of water on the front porch. Which is odd, since it’s covered and the faucet is down a step. And it didn’t rain last night.

Went into the garage and found the rest of the puddle, leaking out of the water heater. The smitty pan did a pretty good job of protecting the drywall, so it mostly went onto the concrete floor. I might lose some, well, nothing, actually. Money for the replacement, basically.

So this does not qualify as “knowing what it’s like” for people currently recovering from massive flooding

Family room upgrades and AV advice


While architects are known for producing high-concept designs that are impossible to live in, mass-produced subdivisions have their own quirks. I’ve previously mentioned the goofy peninsula in my kitchen that led me to search for a decent counter-depth fridge. I don’t recall if I also mentioned that the pantry has no light (or power) inside, or that what looks like terrific storage space above the cabinets is ruined by code-required fluourescent uplights that I never use.

Anyway, a lot of that stuff is all on the list for the contractor I’m finally going to hire, but some upgrades just require a credit card and a web browser.

The first upgrade to the family room was the Fuji print over the fireplace.

Second was the seating. 18 years ago, I bought a dark grey couch and chair from Ikea. The machine-washable covers are nice, and they’re sturdy enough that I could keep using them, but you tend to sink into them these days, requiring some effort to get back out (a real issue for my mom).

The problem with replacing them is the way the room is laid out; it’s 14 feet wide and 12 feet deep, but the far end is consumed by a gas fireplace and a deep storage niche, and the left half of the near end needs to be kept open to allow easy traffic flow into the kitchen and dining area. That leaves the right side, and the tiled hearth sticks out nearly two feet, effectively limiting the seating space to 10x6 feet.

I wanted an L-shaped sectional, but 99% of what’s on the market are huge. If they’re under 10 feet long, then they’re at least 8 feet deep, sometimes with a chaise section instead of a proper seat with back and armrest.

I finally found this at the local Ashley, and after very carefully measuring the space and the sectional, I decided it will work:

It’s a foot longer and nearly two feet deeper than the current couch/chair combo, but it does fit, and the small “chaise” extension basically takes up the space that’s currently an end table, so the traffic flow is unchanged. I’ve ordered a slide-under tray table to provide a place for drinks at that end, and the large comfy cushions compensate for the lack of an armrest. It should show up in about two weeks.

The only real downside is that the corner space between the couch and chair is where I currently have my liquor cabinet, and now I have to find a new place for about 70 bottles of booze.

Third was the TV stand. When I bought my first BluRay player and HD TV, 37 inches provided plenty of bang for the buck, but now I want something bigger, and because a wall-mount is impractical (the left side of the room has big windows), I need a new stand that’s wide enough for a 55-65-inch TV. Here the problem isn’t height, width, or depth, it’s the fact that most of what’s on the market is either too ugly or too dark for my mostly-blonde house. I eventually stumbled across this:

My Harmony hub has two IR blasters to reach the components behind the doors, and there’s plenty of space for the FireTV, Japanese PS2, etc. I’ll have to build some new shallow shelving for the discs that don’t fit into its drawers, but that’s not hard.

That should also arrive in about two weeks, and then I can start looking for a new TV. I’d prefer the least-Smart 4K TV I can find, because the vendors have a really poor track record regarding privacy and security. If I let it access the Internet at all, it will be on an isolated VLAN from the rest of the house. I haven’t looked seriously at what’s on the market right now, so suggestions are welcome.

After that comes the real fun: a new receiver and speakers. My old 5.1 surround system is a Kenwood VR-407, purchased way back when to drive my top-of-the-line laserdisc player. It’s held up surprisingly well, but yeah, it’s time. For the receiver, I’m thinking overkill, specifically the Denon AVRS940H Denon AVR-X3400H for its large and versatile set of inputs, and ability to upscale the analog inputs (which is why I crossed out the S940H; I’m going to look at some other decent brands to see if I can find something that doesn’t cost quite so much more). For speakers, honestly I haven’t a clue; the Kenwood came with a set.

Recommendations?

Mount Fuji at home


I’ve spent 18 years trying to figure out what sort of picture to hang above the mantel. Then I stumbled across this on Sunday, and it arrived today.

Seems kind of fitting to put a volcano on top of a fireplace.

Tangzhong dinner rolls


As part of the ongoing upgrades at home, I just replaced all my baking pans with the ones King Arthur Flour sells, and picked up a bunch of their nice parchment sheets as well. While I was at it, I saw that they had a recipe bundle for their version of the tangzhong ‘Hokkaido’ milk bread rolls.

Everything arrived yesterday, and I made a batch this morning, following their recipe, weighing the flour instead of using volume measurements for it. I used the bread machine to make the dough, then baked them in the supplied pan.

Was it good? Half the rolls didn’t survive long enough to cool down; I made little roast beef sandwiches out of two, and just ate the other two while catching up on email. Lunch just now was another little sandwich, since I stopped at the Morgan Hill Safeway on the way to the office (the closest one that has a Boar’s Head deli).

If I were having friends over, I’d have to make a double batch (at least!), which means pulling out the stand mixer.

Only negative? The recipe bundle promised a nice printed copy of the recipe. What arrived was a piece of cheap printer paper stapled to the receipt, printed in a small, thin font. Printing a copy yourself produces something far more useful for actually baking (in addition to giving you the option to use weight rather than volume).