Flex Time

So here’s a thing I haven’t mentioned — I’m trying to lose weight. I know, I know… almost everyone is these days. But I’m doing it as part of a challenge at work so I’m keeping track of things like what I eat and when I exercise and trying to make small changes. I’ve stopped putting cream(er) in my coffee every time. This is actually impressive because I drink a LOT of coffee. Mostly I put cream(er) in because I like the taste. But I’m happy enough drinking coffee black, and that means when I do get that latte or Starbucks “macchiato” it’s not as bad. And I maybe appreciate it more.

Except, you know, probably not because I’m really only after the caffeine. Especially since as part of this thing I’ve also given up soda.

Anyhow, it’s working and apparently the “no soda/no cream(er)” thing was really all that it took because nothing else has changed — I’m still (grudgingly) going to the gym a few times a week — and I’ve lost eleven pounds since August first. Literally the only changes have been the no soda thing and the skipping of the cream(er) most of the time.

Oh, and one other change. I’ve started logging what I eat just out of curiosity (because why is it suddenly working now, when it hasn’t for the past year?) and just about a week ago I made one more small change.

I officially started eating meat again. I am officially moving my peg from the “Vegetarian” column to the “Flexitarian” column.

Kittiboi — the partner-in-crime — is vegan. I’ve been predominantly vegetarian for the entire length of time we’ve known each other. I would occasionally have things with meat in them when he wasn’t around. I still counted myself as vegetarian because a good 99% of what I ate was vegetarian (and about 50% of that was vegan). Then I started logging what I was eating and I realized I was getting a LOT of carbs. I was also getting very little fat and very little protein (eggs and cheese and peanut butter only go so far). The multivitamins weren’t covering everything, I wasn’t losing weight, and it was frustrating.

Two weeks ago I decided that meat needed to be a more regular thing. Chicken or Turkey. Although with two stories in the news recently about bulls escaping the slaughterhouse, I’m probably not going to eat red meat ever again because the only thing that makes me cry is stories about animals dying. Also, vegan “beef” gravy is good. Vegan “chicken” and “turkey” gravy is not.

I’m still going to keep using whey powder to add protein (mix it with vanilla Greek-style yogurt! It’s like eating cake batter!) and eating meat isn’t going to be an everyday thing, but it’s nice to have a few lunch options that aren’t some sort of pasta-and-cheese combination, or rice-and-vegetable thing because that gets boring.

Dear Simple Minds

Dear Simple Minds,

I’m sorry I wrote you off all these years based solely on “Don’t You (Forget About Me)”. The interviews and reviews of the recent Manic Street Preachers album (Futurology) cites you as an influence, so I went back to Empires and Dance and… you guys… this stuff is great! It’s a little Talking Heads. It’s a little Oingo Boingo. It’s a little goth. It’s a LOT good.

Again, I’m sorry I disregarded you for all these years. In my defense, I was only nine when Empires and Dance was released.

Respectfully yours,
DataAngel The Ninth

Another Pleasant Valley Sunday

Sunday mornings I go to a local pet store and take care of the cats that are there. The cats are residents of a local animal shelter but they live at the pet store so people can see them and hopefully adopt them. Last year we had well over 100 adoptions at this location alone. This year we’re not even into the 40s. But I think we adopted out to everyone already in the neighborhood. They may be at maximum cat saturation.

The important thing is that cats ARE going to homes, awareness of the shelter is spreading (the direct-from-shelter numbers are strong), and donations are strong.

After today’s visit, the partner-in-crime and I stopped at Target. He goes back to school this week (college — he’s about halfway to becoming an English teacher). We probably shouldn’t have waited so long. The school supplies were kind of picked over. Still, we got what was needed and got out of there without spending a ton (Which is good, since we’re still fretting over his tuition this semester, and starting to get really worried about how we’re going to pay for next semester).

Now we’re home. He wants to go to the gym. I want to go to a cemetery and take photos. He says his plan is more legitimate exercise. I say mine is. 30 minutes in the gym versus well over an hour wandering up and down hills, crouching, standing, stretching, holding still for photos? Plus with my “workout” you get cool photos when you’re done. With his you’re just subjected to whatever garbage VH1 happens to be showing, and terrible pop music played over the gym’s sound system.

I have a feeling I’m going to lose this battle and then be cranky the rest of the day. At least I have Every Simpsons Ever to console me.

Welsh Women, Werewolves, and GISHWHES

Where do I even begin?

Last week, after the excitement of the electrical situation, things settled down and we went to Shore Leave. We only did the one-day thing instead of the whole weekend because we couldn’t afford to stay in the hotel (and commuting back and forth from our house to Hunt Valley gets tiresome (I worked near the hotel for 13 years so I speak from experience) and we have four cats and a dog to contend with (the dog can be boarded, but that’s more money spent).

Anyhow. Shore Leave. One day. The Partner-in-Crime met, spoke with, and hugged Eve Myles. She told him he smelled nice. I had to put him on a tether to keep him from floating away.

I met and (sort of) spoke with Silas Weir Mitchell. By the time I got to his table for the autograph signing it was getting late, he’d already had several hundred people herded past him, and he looked tired. I kept it brief.

We did get to hear both of them do their hour-long talks. Silas Weir Mitchell is really smart. Eve Myles is hysterically funny and adorable. She speaks first and thinks about what she just said later. Most of her stories bordered on obscene (and almost entirely because of John Barrowman).

We didn’t stay the whole day — skipped the Masquerade so the critters could be fed — and I kinda regret that. Maybe next year we’ll have the money to make a weekend of it.

All the photos from Shore Leave 36 are on Flickr Shore Leave 30 is in the same album, so scroll down a bit.

The GISHWHES item list was released that same day, so while I was at the con I was also on my phone, checking the list to see what I might have been able to take care of while I was there.

I did lousy. I couldn’t accomplish any of the items. Stuff fell through, I lacked the necessary tools, or things just didn’t pan out (One involved taking photos of a shelter cat, putting up fliers, and then showing the successful adoption of the cat. I missed that last part. She’s still available for adoption).

I’m prepping for next year, though.

This weekend was kind of a letdown after last weekend. Took the dog to the groomer. Came home and worked for about an hour or so. Went back to the groomer later to pick up the dog. Came home, then went to the gym and the pet store. Bought some fish for the fish tank (two mollies, three tiger barbs, and a catfish). Dinner was had. Now I’m just trying to stay awake until bedtime.

Unexpectedly Passported

So last night I was sitting in the dining room, playing a stupid game, and I suddenly thought to myself “I wonder if any of the partner-in-crime’s immigration paperwork is in the dining room”. I looked through the desk drawers and found a few things like proof of employment and things that we used when his conditional green card was updated to a “permanent” one (I don’t count it as permanent if it expires, but that’s me). And then I looked in a fireproof box that’s been sitting on the sideboard in the dining room for about nine years.

Inside I found1:

  • Loan paperwork for a car I no longer own.
  • Receipt for work done on the roof of the house about nine years ago.
  • Shipping information for a copy of Rosetta Stone Spanish from about nine years ago.
  • The partner-in-crime’s original passport with his visa in it.

Ho-Lee-Shit. He was certain they’d kept it when he renewed his passport the first time. He was so certain that I was certain. Neither of us ever considered it would be in that box. Like I told my mom last night — this happened in like 2005 or so, so it’s not like we had it last month and misplaced it. It’s been sitting in there legitimately forgotten for nine years.

If you know me and my “thing” about the number nine2, you’ll understand why this is amusing and appropriate. In an annoying way.

So now it’s just a matter of filling out a form and mailing it off. The partner-in-crime’s financial aid applications should go much smoother. Hopefully he’ll actually qualify for financial aid. We’re getting down to the wire for his applying to a four-year school.

1Notably not in the box: a candy wrapper, a broken crayon, and a piece of string*.
2Note to self: Develop fixation on a lower number. Three, or maybe one.
*Additional note to self: consider a safe deposit box at the bank. Remember to include candy wrapper, broken crayon, and string with important paperwork.

Moneypit – Part 2

It turned out that it WAS just a short in the plug, but it was fixed in time. The wiring is the original stuff, complete with cloth insulation (which is probably asbestos?) and about 80 years of dust. So we avoided a fire.

The electrician also replaced a few outlets in the kitchen and went over other electrical situations in the house.

We’re looking at a major overhaul, but at least for the time being disaster has been averted.

Money Pit

Last month we bought a new water heater. Today we’re waiting for the emergency electrician.

There’s (what is hopefully only) a short in the outlet in the living room and it’s really hot. It’s already melted one adapter (the kind that turns 2 into 6 — and no, we don’t plug six things into it at once, but sometimes we do need to have three things plugged in there).

melted plug

This is when my mom freaks out

So that’s money. There’s an emergency fee that’s charged no matter what. The best outcome is that it’s a short in the outlet and a few minutes will fix it and the cost will be minimal. The worst outcome (which is what we’re bracing for) is that there will be a huge problem with the wires in the wall. And in this house that is very likely. Which will, of course, mean a lot of time, money, and mess.

Fingers crossed that it’s nothing major.

Don’t support authors who plagiarize.

The best thing about living in the future is that you can find out about these things very easily and spread the word that much faster.

The story starts like this:

My mother (Mim) was on Amazon looking for something to read. She found a recently (self)published book that had several great reviews and one negative one. Mom likes to read self-published books. Sometimes there are real gems and the price is usually great. But poor editing is a big turnoff for her, so she read the lone negative review.

Curious, I got the free sample of both books. The evidence is pretty conclusive.

page one

page two

He’s published the second book in the series. It’s… more of the same.

book two page one

As a reader and as a writer I can’t put up with this. I did find out that the original author is on Goodreads and I’ve sent her a message. That’s not enough for me, though. I’ve had my short stories pirated. That hurt a little because it meant I wasn’t getting paid, but at least no one was making money off my work. This guy’s a thief. He’s stealing someone else’s work and earning money and reputation. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Rats to You

I live in the city. There are rats. I’ve posted about this before but I can’t remember if I have since The Great Website Reboot.

Anyhow, it’s a city and there are rats. We watch them playing in the neighbors’ trash on trash day. We see them scurry down alleys and disappear into storm drains. No big deal. It happens.

But the problem is the rats are in our yard, digging holes in our dirt, and getting into our basement.

I have a dog and four cats. The dog pees in the yard. There are stray cats in the neighborhood. The cats pee in our yard. You’d think the smell of predators would drive the rats away.


“Plant mint” say the experts. “Rats can’t stand the smell, so plant peppermint, spearmint, or citronella!”

The rats in my yard have set up their main entrance right in the middle of the spearmint plant.

I’ve tried pine and cedar oils. Combinations of mint oils. Vinegar. Predator urine. Steel wool and insulating foam. Cruelty-free traps. Sonic repellers. Filling in their holes with rocks, sand, and steel wool. Copper mesh. And poison. As a last resort we’ve even used poison (in pet-proof feeders). One time, Kittiboi startled a rat that was hiding in the poison feeder, so we know they could get into them. They just weren’t taking the bait.

I’m really against the idea of poisoning them. I don’t want them to crawl off and die in my basement or somewhere my dog or the cats could get to them after they’ve died. I absolutely refuse to use a trap that kills them. (I’m OK with the cats killing them because that’s how it’s supposed to work. Beheading a rat “myself” is not something I’m OK with).

I am at the end of my rope. I’m out of ideas. At this point I don’t even care if they’re in my yard. I just want them out of my basement.