‘Merican Matrimony

Last year’s official wedding gift theme was copper.  This year was bronze.  We decided on a mutual gift to ourselves, and got a bronze star for the house:

Year 8!

It looks nice, but gives me pause.  Is it too…‘Merican?  I don’t mean “Is it too Americana?”, I’m talking about the apostrophe type of ‘Merican.

For reference

And when did appreciation for one’s own culture jump to extremest right-wing nationalism?  Maybe I’m just starting to feel that way with all the Trump flags surrounding us, like an eternal redneck colorguard.

Ah screw it.  It’s just a harmless little decoration.  Rockwellian Americana I say.



I admit that I have indeed been feeling cantankerous.  In fact, my new boss, who I speak with for all of 27-29 minutes each week, recently asked me if I had considered scheduling some of my vacation time.  Maybe that was a hint?  I dunno.  My employer is doing this weird thing now where they actively concern themselves with the mental health of their employees.  I guess at some point employers realized that screaming, twitching, anxiety disorder-ridden staff on the verge of violent self-harm wasn’t good for business.  I missed that memo.  I’m not sure when the collective transition took place.  I wish I knew how to emotionally handle groups of other people concerned with my wellbeing.

So obviously, I started causing some trouble.

But first, some background.

At our townhouse, the prior resident most definitely had a cat.  And you know that bullshit apartment complexes do in times of high demand where they let you tour the model but you don’t actually see your specific (and much less appealing) unit until after signing the lease?  Oh sure, you could demand to see it first.  But the prior tenant hasn’t left yet, so you get the next available unit, and if you choose to wait, someone else will the sign the lease and you’re stuck apartment-hunting again.  As a consequence, we moved into a townhouse with cat pee smell and battled it for 5 years.  Carpet shampooing and bowls of activated carbon in the closets mostly solved the problem inside, but every time it rained, the back patio enclosure reeked so bad we couldn’t go out there until it dried.

Now, comfortably relocated to our home in the suburbs, those days are behind us.  Except cat people seem to exist everywhere.  And many cat people, as you are probably well aware, through whatever misguided concept of how cats should be treated or perhaps due to sheer laziness, decide to simply send their pets outside to pee on their neighbor’s property.  It baffles me greatly why these people think this is acceptable, and to which there’s no parallel.  Sure, there’s a certain degree of acceptance that people walking their dogs may end up with those dogs peeing in your lawn at the end of the road, but that’s a far cry from leading their dog through your gardens to pee on your house, or letting it run over and dig holes in your yard.  There’s an understanding that unchecked dog behavior is offensive to others.  But apparently, not so with cats’.

So it was when I found a black cat frequenting my shade garden that I had flashbacks to the townhouse days.  No way in hell I’m going to let my cozy retreat be forever rendered unusable.  Liz contacted the neighbors we knew had cats, and both claimed ignorance of the cat in question, stating that theirs were inside at the time.  Fair enough.  Due diligence completed.  It was time for a more direct approach.

I took to social media (yes I know–shudder), and frankly announced that whoever’s cat was loose had the chance to reclaim it or…there would be a loud bang.  The immediate public reaction was, as you might expect…what you would expect.

Not certain why she deduced I didn’t have a hose. When people attempt sarcasm and fail, it’s kind of sad.

One person told me to spray it with a hose.  She then asked me if I had a hose and, before I could respond, say that if I didn’t have one she would be happy to take up a collection.  I found the attempted condescension amusing.  Proper condescension would have also questioned if I possessed the skill set required to operate a hose, but she was an obvious amateur at this.  Years of customer service has made me an expert at such banter (amazing how many computer scientists and programmers there are suddenly once you tell them that there must have been a glitch in the system somewhere) and has armed me with a variety of ironclad responses to the typical snark.  Had she questioned my ability to use a hose and I rebutted with the assurance that I did know how to use a hose, she would have no doubt escalated to her credentials in hose-usage; how she was a professional hose manufacturer and performed testing on hoses for 30 years, in the process receiving a Ph.D. in Hose Theory from MIT, and that I truly didn’t know how to properly use a hose.

Another gentleman chose to inform me that it was illegal to shoot a cat, apparently ignoring the more fundamental laws against discharging firearms in city limits, but okay.  I assured the man that I wasn’t really going to shoot any cats, as he seemed of the more sound minded and had correctly assumed I wasn’t serious.

Another woman, jumping into the conversation late and an obvious troll, snapped at my suggestion that I would be shooting down the street.  Choosing the ignore her comment as I had already addressed the fact that I wasn’t really going to be doing any shooting, I chose to call out her obvious pseudonym–complimenting it in fact as it was “Karen Manager”.  It genuinely made me laugh and deserved praise.  I was rewarded for my levity by her then calling my wife fat.  I admitted that we do have a weakness for foie gras, caviar, and bourbon; but her posts and profile were shortly deleted.  I think someone (not me) reported it and had it removed.

Again with the hose bit? Was that really the only thing she was getting out of the conversation?

Eventually the trolls and those filled with righteous indignation lost their interest and lessened their comments (except hose lady, who again asked me why I didn’t own a hose).

But the best part was the people coming to my defense, proving that I was not alone in this sentiment, but so far the only one willing to call it out.  In fact, their comments were quicker than mine, giving the feed its own life and no longer requiring my input to keep it going (except to occasionally poke at the bible lady who was convinced of my sociopathy).

But ultimately I had to end it before the conversation devolved into a Reductio ad Hitlerum fallacy.  I truthfully admitted my post was intentionally inflammatory, having used a little social engineering to bring out people’s true feelings on the topic (or apparently their true feelings about animals, killing, and the bible, in some cases), on a topic that might otherwise have gone completely ignored, to instead result in a lengthy discussion and prove that there are many people in this world that don’t appreciate your fucking cat peeing on and damaging their property.  And with that admission also exposing to the commentators how easily they had been manipulated, the conversation instantly died.

This. If you responded angrily with irrelevancy, this is you.

Yes, if you jump into a discussion with angry comments only vaguely related to the topic, you’re stupid (or a child).  And if you think no one cares that your cat is running around their property unsupervised, you’re stupid (or just really naive?).  Or, if you don’t care that your cat is damaging other people’s property, perhaps you’re just an asshole (you’re an asshole).

(Also, I have a garden hose.)



I present to you a mental image:

I’m wearing a Speedo.

This. This is exactly what I look like.

…Don’t get caught up in the details there.  Just conceptualize it.

I’m wearing a Speedo in my backyard and tanning, within obvious full view of the neighbor’s large living room window.  Is your reaction to do a double take, snicker, and maybe snap a photo and share it?

Now instead, envision a young woman in a bikini sunning herself in the nextdoor yard, within full view of your own living room window.

Implications on the obvious forfeiture of the reasonable expectation of privacy guidelines aside, is it wrong?

Or is it merely a yet another double-standard?  Is it another scenario in which an action perceived to be unfair by a woman is sexist, yet its inverse is “just the way it is”?  And any attempt to argue to the contrary results in the privilege discussion, thereby invalidating by contemporary social conventions the entire argument?

A few years back I attempted to find an answer to this broader question (in short, I didn’t):

Reddit: Sexism

But the criticism I received from my sister reminded me of this old dialog.  In fact, the criticism I received actually made it a sexism issue–something that really wasn’t at the forefront of my mind at the time.  I just thought it was funny.  But my sister seems to have a giant chip on her shoulder in these matters, and all too easily either takes something out of context or re-interprets it for a different discussion.  I’m usually pretty good at determining that ahead of time.  Guess I was just feeling cantankerous myself.  Must run in the family.

The original post probably isn’t worth the effort to revisit, but it’s good to know how very little progress we’ve made as a society in this field since then.

Also, I do snicker (every time–it’s a routine occurrence).


Maning Up, Made Easier

No this isn’t social commentary.  It’s a play on the title of an earlier post:

Man Up–Get a Reel Mower!

2 years ago, Liz bought me a reel mower, partly to satisfy my curiosity, partly for humor as she never expected me to stick with it.  But I quickly discovered the virtues of the reel system, only falling back on the gas machine for jobs that needed more power.  The reel mower was a basic model, having deviated little from the original schematics of those 1950s icons.

But it had started giving me some problems.  The cutting bar wasn’t thick enough, which caused it to expand and contract with temperature fluctuations.  I had to pack a screwdriver whenever I went out to mow, as it invariably needed adjusting first.  I also found the steel to be too soft, as the cutting bar had flexed unevenly, leading to a slight warp that gradually worsened to the point where fine tuning could no longer compensate.  I had sharpened it a few times with lapping compound, but it really just needed to be reground.  I also hated the wheels.  They were plastic and didn’t have much in the way of traction.  Hitting thick patches tended to just jam the thing up and slide if forced.  In short, I had worn it out, and it really wasn’t suited for the task I was asking of it anyway.

Enter the Fiskars StaySharp™ Max Reel Mower!


As an early Father’s Day present, Liz got me this number.  I had been eyeing this particular model, but being the miser that I am I never bought it.  So Liz solved that problem for me.


This bad boy is chain driven, has a wider track, rubber wheels, thick anodized blades, and a redesigned cutting bar shape that I notice tends to push sticks down and out of the way rather than into the blades to jam.  The chain system really gets the blades moving too, making for less missed grass while also letting the user really put some power into it for those difficult patches.  The old mower couldn’t get through grass stalks–those thick round stalks that pop up when the grass tries to seed–but that’s no problem with this guy.  No more multiple passes needed!

My only gripe is the blade distance was set ultra-conservatively out of the factory.  I had to narrow the gap so it would effectively cut, and that process required me to loosen 4 bolts that the manual told me were “…tight from the assembly process to prevent any movement in shipping, and may require some extra leverage.”  No kidding.  We’re talking like curb-stomped lugnuts here (for those of you who’ve actually changed a tire before).  This process took way too long to figure out, and the manual itself I had to find online.  But hopefully I won’t have to do it again for a while and at least now I know how.

Post-adjustment, it works perfect and is near silent.

Now I really can’t think of any excuse to not ditch the gas machines for everyday mowing.  And while this is much easier to use that the last reel mower, I still say it warrants manliness points for being fully manual.  So I’ll reiterate: Man up–get a reel mower!


Coronavirus Cuisine

It’s a lot easier to cook when stuck at home.  It’s also important to have recreational activities when stuck at home.  And food, being a conduit to conversation and culture, remains the fundamental adhesive to familial continuity.  There–I earned usage of the “Existentialism” tag for this post.

Anyway, FOOD!:

4/19/20–Waffles and Eggs
4/22/20–Pesto Pizza
5/3/20–French Toast and Bacon
5/9/20–Fettuccine Alfredo, Asparagus, Mussels
5/10/20–More French Toast, Bacon, Eggs, Whipped Cream (homemade)
5/22/20–Deep Dish Shrimp Cocktail Pizza
5/25/20–Waffles, Bacon, Eggs, Homemade Rhubarb Jam
5/26/20–Hangar Steak and Potatoes
5/31/20–Lamb Chops and Potatoes
6/1/20–Grilled Walleye, Potatoes, Garden Salad

Note: all bread appearances were homemade.  All veggies (excluding onions and garlic) were from the garden.

Eat hearty!  For tonight, we dine in!