Alex Has a Cough

November 22, 2020 4 of 8

At, like, three this morning, Alex woke me up and said that he had a cough and he was a little queasy and that he wanted me to see if I had anything for it. I had something for the nausea (diphenhydramine) but no cough suppressant.

Later, when he got up for work, he took his temperature a bunch of times and it came up 98 (36.7 Celsius) every time. He still had the cough, so he put on an extra-thick mask and went to work.

He’s still at work, so I guess he passed the screening.

He’s going to get a COVID test tonight and we’ll see how it goes.

I went out and bought a bunch of imperishable groceries (tuna, cereal, nuts, little plastic bowls of fruit, etc.) and also some cough suppressant just in case he does have it.

And if he does have it, then guess who needs to get a COVID test tomorrow?

Wish me luck.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. We’re still on the Discworld series. I don’t know if we ever see these characters again, so let’s call this one a standalone. Pyramids, by Terry Pratchett.

I’ve Been Up Since 6 am

November 24, 2020 1 of 8

I know. Lots of people get up at 6 am. However, my day job starts, at the earliest, at 8:30 am (and 11 am at the latest right now, though that may change after COVID ends). Since it takes me 1.5 hours to get ready for work and get to work, that means that I’m used to getting up at maybe 7 am (and frequently later).

I was awakened by Alex, who was working on his intake paperwork for the COVID test. Turns out he needed information on the guarantor (that’s me) that he didn’t know, like my social security number. Then, since he figured he’d go to work it it wasn’t COVID, he asked me to take my shower then, too, so that he could take his shower when he got home.

I did try to go back to bed after that, but with my hair wet, it was hard to relax. Plus, by the time I got out of the shower, it was nearly 7 and I had to be up at 7:30.

Alex came home just about 7:30, and it turns out that he does not have COVID, but he is sick. It’s probably a cold or something. The common cold is actually way more transmissible than COVID. It’s just seems less dangerous since our ancestors who weren’t able to fight off the common cold died out millennia ago. With COVID, we’re basically watching what happened when the first common cold virus hit the first human population, only they didn’t have the medical technology to increase the possibility that they would survive the virus.

Not that I’m saying that dying from COVID is positive or inevitable, or good for our DNA, or anything. Who knows who we would be today if it weren’t for that first cold virus. Maybe one of the people who died had an aptitude for math or science and would have given us a cure for cancer by now. Imagine your biggest bully. It could be a classmate, a member of your church, or even a relative. Maybe that bully’s great-great-great . . . grandparent was considering reproducing with someone who would have given that bully a sense of empathy? Maybe everyone would ultimately have carried that empathy gene and we’d live in a kinder, more just, world.

Or maybe the people who died were just people, with the hopes and dreams that anyone had back then — food, shelter, creativity, music, spirituality — and, much like in For Whom the Bell Tolls, their deaths diminished their community.

Anyway, back to something like the point. Since Alex works with the public, the doctor said that he should stay home from work for a couple of days. He’s feeling better, but he doesn’t know if he’s still contagious, so he’ll be home again tomorrow. He’s off Thanksgiving as well. He’ll be eating two Thanksgiving meals: breakfast with us and dinner with the group he’s getting a house with after that.

It seems that a non-gratuitous Amazon Link would be a poetry book that has For Whom the Bell Tolls in it, but I haven’t read any books like that. So, I guess it’s gratuitous again. We’re still careening madly between Discworld and Nancy Drew. Let’s see what we get today. We have Wyrd Sisters, the second book featuring the witches — Granny Ogg, Granny Weatherwax, and Magrat Garlick.

Running Ads on This Site

November 29, 2020 1 of (probably) 1

I’m going to post this immediately rather than scheduling it for later.

Out of curiosity, I looked at Google AdSense again and apparently I haven’t lost that account. So I’m now trying to figure out how to get AdSense ads to run here.

Maybe I will make some money on this site someday . . .

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for today is Witches Abroad, by Terry Pratchett, the 12th Discworld book and one that features the Witches.

There Was Something I Was Supposed to Do Today

November 22, 2020 3 of 8

I was going to go and pick up bagels, I know that. I was supposed to go walking, I know that, too.

Oh! I was going to go to Michaels (I keep forgetting that there’s no apostrophe in “Michaels.”) to get epoxy resin. I thought about stopping last night, but I was tired. Evelyn and I took the dogs to the Pearl for Pokemon Go Community Day.

I wonder if I can get resin at my store?

And the answer to that is “no.” Just Bondo. I guess I’ll have to go to Michaels.

You see, there’s a project that I’ve been sitting on for, oh, two years now? And I thought that my fails would make blog content. Maybe not good blog content, but blog content nonetheless.

Well, I haven’t really *sat* on it. Let me explain.

When I lost Foxy (and when I say “lost,” I’m not just avoiding saying “had her put down,” we had to put her down because of ‘doggie dementia,’ so she was gone before I had that done), I promised myself that I would make a pendant out of her fur and a copy of the tag from her harness. The tag would be there largely so that the pendant could find its way back to me. It will have my phone number on it.

Then I’d wear the pendant when I traveled, so that she would be with me in spirit. She loved traveling and meeting new people. Kinda like me.

I then spent two years trying to find a mold that would be big enough for the tag, which is fairly large. I think I’ve found it. I’m going to get a silicone baking pan, possibly cupcakes or muffins and see if the tag fits in it.

So once I have that, I’ll be ready to start making little round pieces of resin that are full of bubbles while I figure out how to remove the bubbles preparatory to making the actual pendant.

But first I need the materials.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. I realized that with the Discworld books, I maybe should label them with which set of characters are central to the story. There are people, for example, who avoid the Rincewind books or just read the City Guard books, etc. Today we have the fifth book, Sourcery, which features Rincewind.

I Just Had the Weirdest Dream

November 22, 2020 1 of 8

Now, of course, that’s a bit of hyperbole. I always say that all of my dreams are the weirdest dream. I guess if I had a normal dream, it’d *that* would be the weirdest dream.

Anyway, I dreamed that somehow I ended up parking my car on the top floor of an administration building of a university. My dream didn’t specify that it was a private university at all, let alone a Roman Catholic one, but all of the administrators’ plaques and certificates and things all had “Sister (name)” on them.

It must’ve been very early in the morning, because no one was actually in the office and so I walked down to the ground floor so that I could get out of the building and there were some employees there. When I explained what had happened, one of them asked me to go back up and drive my car down right then, because if I wait until later, the building would be occupied and it might be dangerous to drive my car out of the building with all of those people around.

After that, my brain made up a storyline about college, Pokemon Go, driving, and a fictionalized, in-my-brain-0nly version of the suburbs I grew up in (where they were less suburban and more small-city-esque). I think I’ve dreamed about the small-city version of those suburbs before, but maybe that was just an impression I got within that dream.

I don’t normally try to analyze my dreams. Sometimes the meaning will be perfectly clear and I’ll be, like, “I’m still mourning my mom” or “I’m worried about work,” etc. I didn’t get a real read on what this meant aside from maybe looking forward to the day when I can afford that modern languages degree that I want.

Okay, it’s 4:00 am and I don’t have to be anywhere today, so I’m going back to bed for another six hours or so. Talk to you later.

Gratuitous Amazon Link time. Still Discworld. Sorry about how abrupt these links are, but really, it’s a huge, world-spanning social commentary/humor/fantasy series. There’s not much to say about each individual book. Book 4 of the Discworld series: Mort, by Terry Pratchett.

A Relatively Frustrating Pimsleur Day

November 21, 2020 1 of 8

Evelyn and I met up for Pokemon Go Community Day and on my way home, I finished my second Pimsleur Vietnamese lesson. First, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m going to need to do each Pimsleur lesson twice. When I look at written Vietnamese, I can understand it, but the native speakers on this recording don’t sound anything like the speakers in the Rosetta Stone, so I don’t know what they’re saying at all.

Also, on the way home, I didn’t get any red lights, and the parking lots on the way home were pretty small and it would’ve been frustrating to try to turn around in them and so I had Ray Brown and two Vietnamese people talking to no one in particular for probably about 15 minutes. I finally ended up putting the radio on and throwing my podcast phone into the back seat.

Now, this isn’t my normal in-the-car language approach. I usually listen to my language podcasts through my bluetooth speaker, which I can then turn off while I’m driving because it just requires me to push a button that I can find without looking at it. Trying to pause something on my phone screen, however, requires an actual complete stop.

My bluetooth speaker doesn’t work with Pimsleur, which is a real source of frustration for me not just for the “I can’t stop my podcast by touch” factor. It’s also annoying because my bluetooth speaker is much easier to hear and when I try to use Pimsleur on it (and I’ve tried with three languages now — Lithuanian, German, and Czech), I miss syllables. Like “thank you” in Czech might come out as “ději” instead of “děkuji.” So frustrating.

And it’s not the speaker. I can listen to Chinesepod lessons on it and also to Audible books. It’s just Pimsleur. Speaking of which, I’d better start downloading Chinesepod lessons again.

Well, for better or worse, November only has nine days left and I go back to Chinesepod in the car on December 1. I doubt I’ll be able to make much progress on Vietnamese in that time, particularly doing one lesson every two days, but every minute I spend will be a minute towards being able to use this language.

Our Gratuitous Amazon Link for this post is the third Discworld book. Today I bring you Equal Rites, by Terry Pratchett.

Mluvím Trochu Česky

November 19, 2020 3 of 8

I’m spending entirely too much time trying to get a capital “č” for that title.

Okay. I finally just found a page with it and cut-and-pasted it.

Today I finished Pimsleur Conversational Czech. I’ve been doing Duolingo Czech for a couple of months now and am getting somewhere, but I wanted to come at it from a different angle. I have most of it nailed, except for the part about “what do you want to do?” I don’t even know.

The program seems to be geared towards businesspeople. Well, technically, business*men* on work trips to Czechia. We learn a word for “to have lunch,” but not “to have breakfast” or “to have dinner,” which is odd. I guess they don’t have breakfast or dinner meetings in Czechia?

As for why I emphasized “men” in the previous paragraph, well, like when you’re supposed to say that you want something, like something to eat or drink, they want you to say “chtěl bych,” but that’s what a man would say, for a woman, it’s “chtěla bych.” So frustrating.

Also frustrating is that there’s not a lot of time to say the sentence if it’s particularly long or complicated. I found myself skipping the “Wenceslaus” part of Wenceslaus Square and just saying the “square” part for the first two lessons after it was introduced. Now I can say “Václavské náměstí” like it’s no big thing.

I’m still working on Duolingo Czech and will be working on it until the end of November (when I switch to Duolingo Italian). And then I’ll be back to Czech in June of 2021? August of 2021? Something like that. Maybe I’ll save up for the full Czech 1 course for next year instead of just the conversational part. I will still be “Ano. Ráda”-ing instead of “Ano. Rád,” because, still a woman.

And for the last 10 days of November, I’m going to be tackling Pimsleur Vietnamese in the car. I did Rosetta Stone Vietnamese a couple of years ago and wanted to do two months of Vietnamese in December and January, but none of my games come in Vietnamese. Even if I set my phone to Vietnamese, the games that change their language according to phone settings revert to English (or at least they did the last time I checked, which was . . . a month ago?). So I’m going to squeeze in 10 days of Vietnamese at the end of my Chinese/Czech months, for this year, at least.

And our Gratuitous Amazon Link (I wish I had some good language books to recommend so that this would be less gratuitous. Alas, I don’t), we have All Fall Down, the first of the Embassy Row novels by Ally Carter.

My Poor Bed

November 20, 2020 2 of 8

I worked my way through most of those books in that photo I posted a while back and then went into Alex’s room and got more.

So now I have more FoxTrot books and a few other novels, including two that I had totally failed to put on my Goodreads page on the other side of my bed.

I’m thinking that I may have to buy ebooks for most of my collection and then take the hard copies to, like Half-Price Books to unload them. Most of what I own is books, but I own so many, that when I downsize back into an apartment, I may have to use books as my furniture.

I hope it doesn’t come to that. I think I need to make a definitive list of all of my books and maybe even start buying milk crates or something to store them in and then move them into the storage room, just to get some kind of idea of how many books I have and make some sort of plan for them.

I mean, Tsundoku is a legit hobby separate from reading the books, but I think there has to be a limit.

I was thinking I could add whether I own the book to my Goodreads page, but there are so many books there (I’m up to 295 read books), that it’ll probably take forever.

Well, I’m going to give that a shot. I’m only going to be counting books that I have in hard copy. No ebooks. No audiobooks.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, I bring you the second Discworld novel: The Light Fantastic, by Terry Pratchett.

What’s For Dinner Tonight?

November 20, 2020 1 of 8

I only have ten days left in the month. I’ve beaten my previous record of, like, 15,000 words. Will I make it to 50,000, though? I doubt it, but let’s try.

There’s a dish in the United States called “Cininnati Chili.” It’s not really chili, per se, as it has its root in the Mediterranean and not in South Texas. I wish I’d known that earlier. Oh, well, that’s all in the past.

Cincinnati Chili can be served several ways. And they are called just that — ways. Basically, you put the chili on top of spaghetti and then you can add cheese. Then you can add beans and/or onions on top.

Just before I moved down here (Thomas had been here for a month — Alex wasn’t born yet), I went out with a friend and some of her friends. One of her friends said that we had to try Wolf Chili when I got here. So we did, and boy was he right. It was excellent. It’s got a spicy, peppery flavor, but also has a very strong flavor of cumin. Yum!

Inspired kinda by Cincinnati Chili and kinda by using up leftover chili in “chili mac,” we used to use the Wolf chili almost as a kind of pasta sauce. We then decided to add cheese, and I ended up adding dark red kidney beans, too. So now we have what is more or less “four way” Cincinnati Chili with elbow macaroni instead of spaghetti and, of course, Wolf Chili.

Alex turned out to be either a regular taster who has a low tolerance for spice or a supertaster (which is odd, since I’m a nontaster), so he ended up having this dinner (which we just called “chili mac”) without the chili — just the pasta, beans, and cheese.

When Thomas left, I knew that half of the can of chili would’ve gone to waste if I kept up that recipe, so I just dropped it out and we made chili mac Alex-style into one of our dinners. We sat down and decided to dub it “macaroni, beans, and cheese.” We thought that putting “macaroni” and “cheese” next to each other would be confusing.

Macaroni, beans, and cheese has long been one of Alex’s favorite dinners and a staple in our diet.

And that’s what we had for dinner tonight.

For our Gratuitous Amazon Link, we’re beginning a Discworld run. I sat down and read, like, the first 22 Discworld books pretty much right in a row. Then I burned out and haven’t been back since. I’ll tackle the rest someday. For now, though, we have the epic fantasy parody novel that started it all, The Color of Magic, by Terry Pratchett.

My First Attempt at Roast Duck — An Ongoing Commentary

November 26, 2020 3 of 8

I started this post, then realized I couldn’t remember if this was my third or fourth post for today. So I went to my All Posts page and found that somehow all of my upcoming posts are out of order.

So I spent a while straightening that out (I’m still not done, but it’s a start) and now I’m ready to make my duck.

I just realized that I haven’t showered yet today. Crap. It’s almost 4 pm. Well, I’ll probably get sweaty making the duck, so I’ll shower afterwards.

First, I’m heating the oven to 350, which seems to be the accepted temperature for roast duck. I’m going to take the duck out of the fridge, pull the innards out,and then put them in a container for Evelyn’s dogs.

The duck is in the oven. I put some of the skin and also the fat that I pulled out while removing the innards. I’m going to save the fat for another experiment later — french fries cooked in duck fat. More on that later.

Edited to add: I totally forgot the actual first step of this duck — being unable to get the damn package open with my kitchen scissors so I used a big serrated knife which cut right through the orange sauce packet and the orange sauce got all over everything.

I removed the innards, cut off the loose skin and the tail, and ran just a little water into it so that I could see whether I got all of the innards out. I scored the skin on the breast (I missed and nicked the meat the tiniest bit in one place), then sprinkled salt onto the duck and a bit inside the cavity.

Then I stuck it on the vertical roaster thingy, stuck it in the oven, and bleached everything that the duck came close to down twice. I poured pure bleach on it and then a couple of minutes later I used generic Clorox wipes on everything. This may be the germ-free-est my kitchen has been in years.

Not that I go around cooking germy things and then leaving it. It’s just that when I cook poultry, I usually start with it a little more frozen than the duck was so that I can control the spread of the germs a little better, then I have to clean less of the area of the kitchen.

Now we wait.

I just salvaged my first bit of duck fat and I don’t know if I’m going to get enough to make it worth our while to try to make french fries. I guess we’ll see. It has, after all, only been about 15 minutes. I also realized that I forgot to put foil down on the pan before putting the duck on it.

So that’s going to be fun to clean later.

It’s 4:30 and my duck has been cooking for half an hour. Still somewhere between one and three hours (!) to go.

Really, if this turns out halfway edible, I may do this more in the future. I wish I could’ve found my actual roasting pan. I ended up doing this on a cookie sheet, which makes it kind of hard to get the fat off the pan. Instead of my turkey baster, I ended up just using a very large spoon.

It’s 4:50 and the kitchen is getting a little smoky from the drippings burning in the oven. I put the exhaust fan on medium. Let’s hope it doesn’t set off the smoke alarm in the house. It probably won’t, because it is just a little smoky. But I’m still kind of concerned.

It’s 5:20 and I just checked the temperature of the duck. It’s 160 degrees!?! I really worry that my meat thermometer is off.

I just took it out of the oven and it sure looks cooked from the outside.

It’s 5:30 and I just took it out and flipped it onto its back (a challenging proposition, given how hot it was and the fact that it was on a vertical roasting stand thing). I saw some red inside and so I checked the temperature again at the . . . hip? and it was only 145 degrees. So back into the oven it goes for a while longer.

But it’s getting there.

At 5:45, the temperature at the hip joint was 160 degrees and the liquid that came out when I poked it was just a little pink. We’re getting close to finding out if this is my dinner or the coyotes’.

At 6:00, I checked the temperature again. The hip was still 160 but the breast was 180. I figured that averages out to 170 and should be close enough. It’s just about done resting and soon we’ll see.

It’s done. Well, some of the parts are pinker that I’d hoped, and I don’t know if I’d pay money for this from a Czech restaurant, but it’s poultry, and it’s edible. I don’t think my Czech ancestors are turning over in their graves, for whatever that’s worth.

Oh, and I’ve completely forgotten how to cut poultry up neatly. I basically have chunks of duck, some with bones still in them (legs, wings) and others boneless.

Happy Thanksgiving!