Archive for February 2013

Heart-Shaped Pizza FAIL!   Leave a comment

Last year, I was rather successful in making a heat shaped pizza for Valentine’s day. This year, I promised my daughter I’d do it again. I pulled out my pizza dough recipe and trusty mixer, and made dough last night. The dough felt stiff, but I managed to make something more-or-less heart-shaped.
Heart Shaped Pizza–precooking

I was going to cut the peppers into strips, and make hearts out of them. However, they weren’t long enough to bend the way I wanted them to, so I gave up and diced them. In retrospect, I should have arranged the diced pieces into hearts. I baked the pizza, and, as it grew in the oven, the dent at the top rounded out, making it look less heart-shaped than…pizza shaped.
Heart Shaped Pizza–cooked

It also got a bit crispier than I usually like it. I realized after the fact I used extra virgin olive oil, rather than just plain olive oil. That may have impacted the baking. I’ll know to do it better in the future.

In any case, it still tasted good.

Posted 2013-02-15 by Mr. Guilt in food

Answering Search Engine Queries, Volume Two   Leave a comment

One of the neat things about WordPress is that I can see what terms people are using in search engines to find my blog. Some, like “clouded leopard pictures” are pretty natural and general. Others I seem to have something spot on, such as advice on keeping pens.

However, I often see queries which I think are very good questions, but I don’t think I answer them very well, and there may not be a good, concise answer on the web (many of these are about cats). In the interest of improving my blogging, as well as advocating and educating about the subjects I love, I’ve decided to track the more interesting queries, and periodically answer them. This is the second installment, the first is here.

Refill for f-301 compact

I wrote a review of the Zebra F-301 Compact after receiving a sample from Jet Pens. I actually gave the sample to my wife, though we are both fond of the pen. It takes the “F-Type” ballpoint refill, which is a great ballpoint refill. It fits both the compact and full sized Zebra 301 ballpoint pens.

Why is the black footed cat endangered?

The black-footed cat, Africa’s smallest feline, has numerous threats, most of which are man-made. Its prey base is being reduced due to overgrazing by cattle. Poison, targeting pests, is impacting its numbers as well. Finally, dogs used to hunt jackals are a major threat to the species.

Proud CaracalWhen do caracals sleep?

Caracals are another African cat. Unfortunately, they are perceived as pests by many ranchers. However, in places where their wild prey is abundant, no traces of livestock is found in their droppings. They are known for the tufts at the top of their ears, and can jump high enough to take down a bird in flight.

Caracals are nocturnal animals, preferring to find cool crevices to sleep in during the day.

Why do cats poof up?

We all seen cats puff up when angry or frightened. Perhaps it’s just the cat’s tail, or the whole body. I know when Eddy has a poofy tail to give him some space. The goal is to make the cat appear bigger to its threat, hopefully scaring it away and avoiding a confrontation. It is an involuntary reflex. When the cat poofs up, the skin around the fur is dimpling up, making the hair stand up.

You do this to–it’s basically the same behavior and reflex as goose pimples. Humans just don’t have as much hair to puff up.

which pens don’t go through Moleskine?

As neat as Moleskine journals look, and as ubiquitous they seem to be, as primarily a fountain pen user, I just can’t get behind using them. The paper has significant bleed-through. Some of my fountain pens do better than others–I’ve had good luck with Parker 51s and Lamy Safaris, for example. If I were to recommend a pen for one, I’d suggest a ball pen (roller ball or ballpoint) or pencil.

Rather than changing your pen, I’d recommend changing my notebook. The Rhodia Webnotebook use great paper that stands up to any fountain pen. It has a similar design to the Moleskine, with a nicer cover.

There were also a number of terms that made me smile for a variety of reasons (such as imagining a “snow cheetah”).

  • pictures of baby snow cheetahs
  • dressing as a snow leopard
  • haloween snow leopard
  • showing respect for mr guilt
  • Louisiana fishing cat

Posted 2013-02-13 by Mr. Guilt in Answering Search Engine Queries

Mardi Gras for the Cats   2 comments

It’s Mardi Gras! Eddy, Beso, and Luna are ready.

…almost. Beso needs to make sure he’s ready for his Krewe’s ball. Everything has to be perfect, after all.

Luna is ready for a parade. “Throw me something, mister!”
Luna by the Croc

Eddy, however, is still getting the hang of all this.

Did someone mention King Cake?
Beso Models the Beads

May you all laissez les bons temps rouler!

There is no unsupervised playing with the beads. Be safe–do the same.

18.12 miles Pendery Park   Leave a comment

This will be my longest ride of 2013.

Posted 2013-02-10 by Mr. Guilt in Cycling, Route Tracking

Miami Merger Valentine 2013   1 comment

As I’ve mentioned, my wife and I both graduated from Miami University. Miami is said to have one of the highest instances of alumni marrying. 14% of alumni have married another Miami grad. To celebrate this, they send us “Miami Mergers” a Valentine’s Day card each year. The school’s colors, red and white, lend itself to Valentines (as do the initials, which create a lot of “Me and yoU” puns).

We got ours today. The Valentines are always quite clever and cute. This year, the theme was haikus on coasters.
Miami Merger Valentine 2013

I think it’s a neat tradition, and am glad to see it each year.

Posted 2013-02-08 by Mr. Guilt in

Food Bowls   3 comments

Eddy NomsAs long as we’ve had a cat and lived in this house (nearly fifteen years of both those things being true), we’ve had a very nice feeding station set up in the kitchen. It has a placemat, a bowl of food, and a ceramic bowl of water. This is the spot Maggie always used.

When Eddy came to live with us, we set up his station (with kitten food) a few feet away, in a corner just inside the dining room. This is where he ate until Maggie passed away. Eventually, we moved him into the kitchen, as it was more out of the way.

After we gave Beso and Luna run of the house, we set up their station in that same part of the dining room. The thinking is that the prime kitchen spot is the one for the Senior Cat, with the other location for the Assistant Cats.* As they moved from kitten to adult food, we simply kept a pair of bowls of the same stuff out. They could use both bowls.

Cats, as always, have their own ideas.

Eddy defaults to the bowl in the dining room. He’s happy to share with the rest of the coalition, however, if he’s going to be eating, it will be in the dining room. Beso and Luna show a preference for that bowl, but will eat in the kitchen if it is empty.

Eddy, on the other hand, gets quite distraught if that bowl is empty (or really, really low). He’ll fuss to get me to check. I usually point out to him that the other bowl has plenty of food. Eddy, however, will nip at my feet to get me back to “his” bowl. If it is the normal bowl-filling time, I might fill it. However, I might also swap it with the bowl in the kitchen. This solves his primary complaint (the empty bowl), but I don’t have to give in. Everyone wins!

*You should see our feline org chart.

Post inspired by a discussion with @gourmetpens.

The Long Wait for a Ride Home   Leave a comment

Even @cincinnatimetro is hit with this snow. #waitingI started riding the Cincinnati Metro to work in 2000, as an outgrowth of biking to work. Bike commuting drove home the point, to me, that I almost never needed a car during the day (the traditional objection to driving to work), and had some options if I needed to get home quickly. So, when the weather is not conducive to biking to work, I take the bus. Rarely do I get stuck at the office too late to take the bus, and almost never have an issue.

So, last night, I had an unprecedented delay.

There were predictions of snow yesterday, though I expected it to come just after the morning rush hour. I made a point to get out to the bus stop and not miss my ride–leaving the driving to someone else during bad weather is just one of the perks of bussing it. It started as a flurry–nothing to worry about. Then, big fluffy flakes came down. Eventually, I couldn’t see to the river from my office window (usually, we can see quite a way into Kentucky). I got a text from my wife letting me know that she got home, but struggled a bit to get up our hill. I heard of long delays. I decided to wait for a somewhat later bus, to get past the wait.

I targeted a bus leaving at 5:45. As I approached the stop at just past 5:40, I saw one of the routes I take leave–the one scheduled for 5:25. Yikes–a twenty minute delay. This past summer,they installed new signs, with updates on arrival times and schedules. Some routes showed delays of five or ten minutes. For my routes, it simply said “delayed.” Lovely.

I stood waiting for the bus. I moved to a spot between the points where the two routes I take pick up passengers. With no information, I was reluctant to retreat into a building to warm up and perhaps browse a magazine rack. I felt my toes get cold. My headphones started making the “low battery tone.” My wife texted that a neighbor who also works downtown took an hour to get home. I mentally decided it was the high water mark. I watched the backed-up traffic slowly go past my stop and towards Columbia Parkway.

I didn’t want to make my wife and daughter set out again in this weather. There were taxis nearby, and I’ve taken them in the past when either I missed the last bus for a long time, or there was an emergency at home. Since I heard it may take an hour, I didn’t want to spend it in the cab. But, as it got later, I started to doubt a bus would come. And I got colder.

Just as I started to try to find out the status of the roads and consider the taxi, I saw a bus coming–it was my route! I jogged to its stop, and got on. Based on my tweets, it was 6:41–nearly an hour past the pick-up time. The bus driver said it took her an hour to come from the other end of the route. Once on the road, the ride took more-or-less as long as it usually took.

I don’t perceive this to be an argument against the bus. This is the only time this has happened in a dozen years, and it was extreme conditions. If anything, I was glad I wasn’t sitting in traffic behind the wheel. However, I’m glad that today has warmer temperatures, no predicted percipitation, and likely no issues getting home.

Posted 2013-02-05 by Mr. Guilt in Cincinnati, Random Tale

Watches, SmartPhones and Dead time   1 comment

I’ve been trying to me more conscious of how I handle dead spaces–time spent waiting on someone to make something happen. Do I wait patiently? Fidget? Pull out my phone?

It is the last possibility that I’ve become most aware of. It seems to creep in. Reading e-mail on the bus or sending tweets from a waiting room are innocent enough. Perhaps even while waiting for my family to get ready to leave the house. These are dead spaces that might otherwise be spent leafing through a magazine, or pacing impatiently.

But, the phone has a funny way of creeping into more and more dead spaces. It’s very compelling to enter its world, and all to easy. It sits there in my pant pocket, ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice. It will be slid back in just as readily. I became bad about pulling it out in dead spaces that started to creep into being rude.

It dawned on my what one of my triggers is, and how to mitigate it. I wear my father’s watch during the week, both for its stated purpose, as well as to remember him. I tend to take it off when sitting at my desk, as it gets in the way of typing. On weekends, however, I tend not to wear it. Like many people, I figure that there is a clock on my magical SmartPhone, so why have the extra thing.

But that’s a slippery slope, especially with a little dead time. That intersection happened this weekend, during the eye exam. One of the assistants was doing some of the pre-work with me. She had to spend a bit of time tweaking the machines, entering my information, and similar things. During these times, I had the urge to pull out my phone and play. I resisted.

Then I wanted to know what time it is.

With the dead space, I knew that, once I saw what time it was, it would be real easy to check Twitter. Then buzz my e-mail. Win, lose, or draw, there was no subtle way to do any of that. I kept my phone in my pocket, and politely waited.

My lesson out of all of this is to wear a watch more frequently. Glancing at the time becomes a quick flick of the wrist rather than pulling out a gadget. It can be done much more subtly, and I know that I’ve removed a temptation. While I rely tremendously on my phone for all sorts of things, I need to make sure I’m balancing its utility with paying attention to the world around me.

Posted 2013-02-04 by Mr. Guilt in rant, Twenty-First Century Life

South Side of the Sky   Leave a comment

It was eleven degrees this morning when I walked across downtown to the data center. This is what I played.

Posted 2013-02-01 by Mr. Guilt in Music

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