Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Missing the Point

Well folks, the elections are finally over and I have heaved an enormous sigh of relief knowing that the Democratic takeover of the house means that I, along with all of my self-employed friends will still be able to purchase health insurance for at least another two years.

Perhaps my anxiety over this issue is overblown, but having watched so many people being denied coverage, or being charged literally twice their monthly income for premiums, I honestly don't think so. The orange beast and his minions can still do plenty of damage, but at least that one little piece of the puzzle is safe for the moment.

Anyhow, with that knot in my stomach fairly well dissipated, my mind has been set free to wander a bit this morning. So as I was scrolling through my Google news feed, I noticed an interesting article about a house for sale in Colorado - one inspired by Henry David Thoreau's classic, Walden.

Sounds interesting, doesn't it? Then I clicked on the link. Good Lord! I'm pretty sure Thoreau is rolling over in his grave. Call me crazy, but somehow I don't think that a lavish $29 million 10,500 square foot luxury estate with 7 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms is exactly what he had in mind when he penned these words:

It just sorta makes you wonder doesn't it? How could someone who claimed to be inspired by Walden, create something which is its absolute antithesis? And even more to the point, how could the people writing articles about the place fail to notice this rather glaring point?

I dunno, perhaps it's just another example of the enormous hypocrisy and contradictions that seem to permeate our society these days. As horrifying as I have found the political divide in this country to be, one thing is sure, a lot of true colors have come to light. 

I found it interesting and sad that as last night's election results came in, there was no repudiation by the evangelical community of the politics of hate, in fact, it was quite the opposite. I've never been a Christian, so perhaps I'm missing something, but it seems to me that the current administration, in terms of both policy and personal behavior, represents the exact opposite of what I understood to be "Christian values."

I'm curious to know what those of you who are Christians think about that. Do you consider it hypocritical to see people who consider themselves to be morally superior lining up behind a racist demagogue who seems to be actively working to harm as many people as possible? Or is there just some completely different interpretation of morality at work here... one that I'm obviously missing.  

Anyhow, those are my thoughts on this November morning. Hope you're all enjoying autumn. Here's the view from a recent bike ride - and I'm thrilled to report that I'm back on my bike - more on that lengthy topic later...

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Earning my Crazy Cat Lady Status

Hi Guys,

Well, the past few weeks have been interesting and busy. I had my bike fitting/physical therapy appointment, and it was very interesting indeed. I'll write more about that saga later as it's still unfolding, but suffice it to say, my hip and knee problems turned out not to be hip and knee related after all. Turns out I have a lower back problem. Details in a future post...

But for the moment, I wanted to share with you my latest Crazy Cat Lady obsession....

It's the Kitty Cam! (For some reason that I don't understand, I had to click the play icon twice to get the video to play.)

Since there haven't been any more incidents with the (actual) crazy lady down the street, I decided to re-purpose one of my security cameras in order to better keep tabs on my little feral friend.

Try as I might, I was unable to get him to relocate from his original spot in the little un-insulated house that I initially put together for him under the rose bush next to my front porch.

I built a nice insulated house for him, and set it up on the covered back patio with a heating pad in it and everything, but I could never get him to use it. Turns out the back porch is right in the path of the neighborhood raccoons, so that might explain his reluctance to hang out there. Here's one of the little fellows truckin' it across the back yard.

I figured the raccoons were probably attracted by the bird and squirrel food that was all over the place, so I crafted a new system for feeding the squirrels and birds which keeps the food from getting spilled all over the ground. Basically I put the food in some litter boxes so they can get at it, but don't scatter it all over the place like they did with the bird and squirrel feeders. This means I can easily take the leftover food into the garage at night, and this has cut down on our raccoon visitors immensely.

But alas, my little feral friend still wouldn't go near the house on the back patio, and when the neighbor's cat (who is a bit of a pill) started showing interest in it, I decided it was probably best to just punt and focus instead on trying to make some improvements to the house that he does like.

The first thing I did was to put a big piece of plywood sticking out over the edge of the porch to make the area a bit more sheltered by giving the area a "roof." I secured it by setting three large heavy cinder blocks on the part that's on the porch so it can't cantilever over the edge.

Next, I stuffed some straw behind the house, and on the side that butts up against the concrete to insulate it from the cold. Then, I put a flat piece of wood on top of the house, and on top of that I put a square section of a bale of straw, with some Styrofoam and a few bricks on top of the straw to secure it. Finally, I piled up another section of straw on the exposed side of the house, and wrapped some bird netting around it, tucking it under the house to keep it in place.

He happily slept there during our first snow storm of the year, but I still worried that he was cold, so yesterday, with another storm on the way, I managed to get the heating pad from the house he wouldn't use to fit inside of this house.

I worried all last night because he got a little spooked by my disrupting his space and wouldn't actually go back in the house, sleeping in the straw in front of it instead. But then the snow started and voila!

I will sleep much better tonight knowing that he's warm and dry.

So that's the crazy cat lady report. Blogger seems to be having some sort of an issue displaying photos and videos, so I hope you can see my Kitty Cam videos! If not, I guess you'll just have to use your imagination.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

First World Problems...

Sometimes I feel like my life is one giant problem solving exercise. As I write this I feel guilty because I know full well that in the broad scheme of things, the sorts of problems I'm dealing with are just plain trivial compared to what the vast portion of humans on this planet have to contend with.

Nevertheless, whine I will...

Sooo… I've been having sleep issues recently. Mostly my back hurts. I fear that this is due to my beloved waterbed not providing adequate support.
I've been able to mitigate the problem somewhat by putting a flat pillow under my rear end at night, and even though it makes my back feel better, it's a bit awkward - especially when I need to roll over or change position. I think part of the issue is that little Smoky loves to cuddle with me at night, and since I'm a side sleeper, one of his favorite spots is right in front of my tummy, sort of in the crook that's formed between my legs and torso.
This is all good and well, but it adds a good 15 pounds to the portion of my body that's already (ahem) the heaviest bit, causing my rear end to sink further into the waterbed.

Anyhooo… I've been pondering trying a different sort of mattress, but honestly even those ship to your home foam mattresses aren't cheap, plus... they sound like they'd be pretty hot and sweaty to sleep on. My parents have an air mattress which they love, and this seemed like it might be a good alternative, so when I saw someone listing a $2400 sleep number bed on Freecycle, I jumped at the chance.

Since I didn't want to go through the hassle of draining the waterbed and all that just to run the experiment, I set the thing up in the basement and have been sleeping on it for the past week.

First thought: Holy Moly - somebody actually paid $2400 for this thing?!? Seriously, it's basically just a bunch of layers of foam with an air mattress (well, two air mattresses, one on each side) sandwiched between.

I think if one wanted to create a DIY sleep number bed, you could pretty much buy all of the components (air mattress, foam layers, bed frame, etc.) for a few hundred bucks. You wouldn't get the fancy remote control feature, or the "wrapper" to hold it all together and make it look like a normal mattress, but um... I'm not really sure that's worth a few thousand dollars, especially since I don't have a sleeping partner who might want a different firmness.

But more to the point, I haven't found the thing to be very comfortable. I've tried all different settings, and it basically feels either saggy and unsupportive making my back hurt, or hard as a rock causing shoulder pain. And the foam layers on top are uncomfortably hot, plus they mash down over the course of the night and are pretty much useless by morning.

Sooo…. back to the waterbed I go. I think I'm gonna try folding up a blanket under the sheets in the area where I need more support, and see if that little hack won't do the trick.

In the meantime... the weather has turned cool the past few days, so I decided I'd make soup. I have a habit of saving vegetable scraps, chicken bones and the like in the freezer until I'm ready to make soup, so I went to retrieve some soup makings and....

Well, let's just say this portion of the post should be titled "Death of a Freezer." Yup, I opened it up and everything was still cool, but definitely defrosted. At first I thought maybe the plug had just come loose, but no... the power light is on, and I even tested the outlet to be sure... it's just dead. UG.

So after a night of not sleeping well on the dreaded sleep number bed, I spent the day yesterday hauling defrosted meat and other stuff out to the garbage. Grrrr…. Honestly, a lot of what was in there is stuff that doesn't really need to be kept frozen - I was just trying to extend its shelf life by keeping it in there (flour, bread, cheese, spices, etc.) So it wasn't a total loss, but still... I haven't decided exactly what to do about it yet - it wasn't a very expensive freezer, I think I paid $200 for it 10 years ago. If I do replace it I'm thinking of going with an upright model, since I'm just not organized enough to keep stuff from getting buried in the bottom of the thing when it's just one big space.

Side note here... do NOT, under any circumstances, perform a Google image search on the phrase "death of a freezer" unless you want to see some really gruesome stuff. Apparently prepositions are lost on Google, so what you get is not (as I was hoping) some funny or ironic take on the Arthur Miller classic "Death of a Salesman." No, the images you will see are more like "death IN a freezer" - and that's as much of a description as I'm gonna give you!

OK... 'nuff said, just consider yourself warned...

ANYHOW, on top of all that, I've been having bike seat issues again... so bike rides have been more trauma than fun recently, and I really, REALLY need to deal with some homeowner stuff like getting some big dead branches trimmed out of my tree before winter, and some lingering plumbing issues, and... and... and... Gah!

So I've got a bike fitting scheduled with a physical therapist who specializes in working with cyclists, and I'm hoping that she can help me sort out the bike seat issues, and I'm getting some estimates on having the tree trimmed, and I've been researching pex vs. copper pipes...

Honestly, though, I can't help but think that all of the other stuff would feel less big if I could get the sleeping thing sorted out. So I think I'm gonna focus there first. Are there any other side sleepers out there? I'd love to hear what works for you.

But... whatever else may be going on, Jasper is doing much, MUCH better. The litter box is out of the living room, and his peeing is almost back to normal - so I really don't have anything to complain about.

So tell me, how do you keep things in perspective when you are beset by problems that you know are really not that big of a deal?