Metaphor alert!

My new Chinese bookcase is a shoddy knockoff of my other Chinese bookcase. Seriously. Instead of solid bamboo plywood and countersunk screws, it’s a single-ply top with edging to make it look solid in pictures, and easily-stripped screws that stick out enough to snag something. I’d have made one myself, like I did for the kitchen storage, but I really like the look of the natural-finish bamboo plywood; maybe I’ll just buy a box of tongue-and-groove bamboo flooring and use that next time.

Unrelated, the bakery department at my local Safeway is now repackaging their bread flour and selling it in 5-pound bags. Still can’t buy yeast anywhere, and not only is King Arthur Flour out again, they still haven’t shipped the order I placed 15 days ago, despite yeast going in and out of stock on their site twice since then. Fortunately I still have plenty, and the grocery stores are all fully restocked with baked goods.

I don’t need to bake bread today, but I’m doing it anyway, because I’m adapting an old family recipe for the bread machine. My mother reported that the first conversion was better than the original on the first day, but didn’t keep as well. Since the original was for 2 ~1.5-pound loaves, I could have just cut it in half, but the machine we both have can make a 2-pound loaf, and scaling to that size left me with 1.2 eggs and 4.7 tablespoons of butter, so I rounded them both down.

Version 2 converts it to tangzhong to make it stay fresh longer, and adds back the missing fat by replacing some of the milk with half-and-half.

Oh, and Safeway even had toilet paper in stock, in two Brand X varieties they’ve never carried before. Still low on most cleaning supplies, but flour and yeast are the only things selling out as fast as they show up (assuming they do; I hadn’t left the house in four days).

Related, the canned fruit Amazon had as “arriving today” yesterday was revised to “delayed, not yet shipped”. The other canned fruit, which was supposed to ship later this week, has an actual tracking number that promises a Thursday delivery. The Gevalia Mocha Latte k-cups are still just “temporarily unavailable”, but I don’t actually need more until the end of May, since I found 12-packs at Walmart to supplement my remaining supply. (they also often carry that particular brand of Splenda-sweetened canned fruit, but I’m not out of that yet, either)

My house is getting disturbingly clean. If this goes on, I’ll be out in the garage opening boxes that have been taped shut for over twenty years. I wonder what’s inside.

Anyone have apple and cherry trees on their island? I’ve got peaches, oranges, and pears.


Oh, for fuck’s sake. Monterey County will require masks starting Thursday. Because standing in line without them outside of the most-sanitized stores in modern history is sure to increase the body count, which currently stands at 4 in a population of 434 thousand, with none in the past eight days, and only 144 active cases left.

On the bright side, the obviously-unconstitutional law that made it virtually impossible to buy ammunition in California was struck down, and the state’s attempt to delay the injunction was also struck down. It’s headed for the 9th circuit, but by doing his job for the past several years, Trump has made that less of a problem than it used to be for civil rights cases.

Pantry, fridge, and freezer...

On a whim, I went south of town to the Nob Hill grocery this afternoon, which had (gasp) pasta in stock, and not just that frou-frou organic gluten-free spinach crap. I passed on the boxes of lasagna noodles, though, because if I made my lasagna, I would eat the entire thing before it had time to cool; it’s that kind of week.

They also had 5-pound bags of rice, and plenty of packages of curry roux, which will come in handy given the promise of thunderstorms all week long. I’ll likely make dry curry rather than the usual sauce-y stuff. (I didn’t need another bag of rice, but I might as well extend my supplies until at least mid-June)

Their selection of onions and peppers was better than either of the nearby Safeways. No raw chicken, but plenty of beef and pork in various cuts, and about two dozen cooked rotisserie chickens. Also plenty of lunch meat, cheese, and bread, which I didn’t need.

I did round out my stock of canned tomato products, and bought two packages of Italian sausage to throw in the freezer with the ground beef and pork I already had. Half of the Costco strip steaks in the fridge will get grilled tomorrow, and the other half vacuum-sealed and frozen, to be cooked sous vide sometime.

They even had significant quantities of milk (limit 2/customer), but the only non-organic whole milk was in gallon jugs, and I only use the stuff for cooking. I’ve got some ultra-pasteurized and a big can of dry whole milk in the pantry, though, so I’d rather wait for the next truck than buy too much fresh and have it go to waste.

I resisted the twin siren calls of Honeycomb and Reese’s Easter Eggs. I can only spend so much time on the elliptical.

Amazon has confirmed shipment of my monthly order of canned fruit and coffee, and I’ve got a big bag of Costco oranges to work through.

Now all I need is a new job! (yes, I was laid off over the phone last Monday; I’d speculate on how a public company plans to get by with only one senior system administrator who didn’t know it was coming, but I signed the non-disparagement agreement…)

(And in case you’re wondering, it’s actually improved my mood considerably. I’ve been on call 24x7 without a break for more than 13 years, and I’ve never had an honest-to-gosh forget-your-laptop vacation. I have plenty of cash in the bank and no debt but the mortgage, and once the severance check arrives, I’m good through at least September.)

NHK Dry Curry recipe after the jump (the link went stale):


Got bread?

Corona-chan’s Vortex Of Panic™ has no power over me. I have a Zojirushi bread machine and I’m not afraid to use it!

Not shown in use (you’re welcome): Toto Washlet electronic bidet seat, my other weapon against out-of-stock staple goods. One bulk pack of toilet paper lasts me a very long time now.

I wanted one of these after my first trip to Japan in 2007, but it took quite a few years for Toto to build up their US distribution, and I refused to go with off-brand or imported conversion kits. If I’m going to place electricity and water in close proximity to my genitals, I insist on the best.

"Does your dog bite?"

Sitting at home contemplating the Nueske’s gift box that just arrived, and my doorbell rang again. This time it was a small neighbor child who said, “your cat is hungry”.

“I don’t have a cat”, I replied, causing the child to look utterly baffled. I explained that I knew the beast and fed him when he stopped by, but had no idea who he actually belonged to.

I also have no idea who the small child belongs to. My neighborhood is sufficiently unwoke that they roam freely without anyone calling to have their parents arrested.

Early birthday present...

Foolishness during my college years really messed up my credit rating. It didn’t help that they kept confusing my records with my father (same first name and middle initial, and of course overlapping home addresses), who had been through several bankruptcies. In fact, when I moved to California in 1993, I had trouble getting an apartment; I had to point out to the landlord that the Sears charge card listed under the bankruptcy was older than I was.

Things have improved over the years, in both income and personal habits. Enough for this:

My 2011 Camry Hybrid is holding up nicely at 230,000+ miles, but it’s nice to know that if I needed a new car, they’d give me the good rates. My only major planned expense for next year is Japan in March, and we’ve already paid for the hotels and tickets. If the new MacBook Pro keyboard design holds up, and Catalina eventually makes it out of beta, I may invest in a new laptop (with Mojave running in a virtual for my legacy 32-bit software).

(and, yes, everyone reports this differently; there are apparently half a dozen different versions of FICO in use, with about a 25-point spread)

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)

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”