Thursday, November 21, 2019

What’s New on Top of Your Utility Pole?

What are these bell-shaped objects that we’re starting to see high above intersections with traffic lights?  They’re traffic cameras.  Of course.  Check it out:

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Wednesday Weigh-In 20191120

Just like last week, the scale did not provide anything other than weight. So today's weigh-in simply repeats percentage fat from two weeks ago. Also, I didn't measure the waist.

Waist = 40.00"
Height = 5' 7"

  1. Wikipedia BMI page
  2. Balance Body Composition Bath Scale
  3. Javascript must be enabled to view the data.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Cat Litter Review -- Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance

Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance clay cat litter was the first cat litter we ever used.  It seemed fine while all the litterboxes were confined to the basement.  But soon after we introduced the first box onto the main level, we realized we needed a product that produced less dust.

Here are what I consider the pros and cons to Tidy Cats:

Great Packaging
Tidy Cats comes in study containers that can be repurposed.  Depending on the size, it comes in either jugs or pails; both are plastic and resealable.  Even though we stopped using it many years ago, we still have a few pails left that we use to store bird seed, sand or spent cat litter.

Flows Well Through Scoop
The individual pellets are spherical and uniform in size, so they flow well through even the finest scoop.

Good Odor Control
Odor was never a problem unless a cat peed outside the box or didn’t bury the Number Two well enough.

Ubiquitous – even our grocery store carries it
It’s convenient if your go-to brand of cat litter is available at the local “Brick & Mortar” stores you regularly shop at.  Back in the days before Internet and automatic delivery, I’d buy the stuff in a regular store.  Occasionally I’d notice that it’s marked down in price at the grocery store.

Good clumping
It clumps fairly well, yet also seems to drain.  It was important for us to keep up the depth of the litter in the box.  Otherwise, a messy, stinky slurry of clay and cat pee would remain on the bottom of the box.  World’s Best is better at clumping, but it doesn’t drain well.

Low “unit” cost
The higher cost of other cat litters was what kept me hooked on Tidy Cats for so low.  But my method of comparing prices is not well-suited for comparing cat litters.  I usually choose the product with the lowest unit cost, where the units are weight.  However, the important unit of measure for cat litter is volume.  Once I realized that, it put competing brands on a more level playing field.

What we didn’t like:

As noted above, dust was the main reason we stopped using it.

Not Compostable
Used clay cat litters either go into the trash or get dumped onto a pile in our woods.

Extremely Heavy
Even the smallest portion is 14lb.  Larger sizes are 20lb, 27lb, 35lb.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Demise of Brick and Mortar Stores

Are Brick and Mortar (B&M) stores partly to blame for their loss of customers to Internet-based stores?  I think so.

While it’s true that B&Ms have higher costs due to maintaining a physical presence and inventory, they also have an advantage in that customers get instant access to purchases.  Also, in the case of one-of-kind product such as produce, buyers get to examine and inspect the merchandise before buying.

I shop both online and at B&Ms.  Here’s why I shop online:
  1. It’s easier to find what I need. For example:
    1. Unscented antiperspirant is nearly impossible to find at stores near me. B&Ms have replaced unscented product with things called “Phoenix,” “Apollo” and “Gold.” What the heck does Gold smell like and how would it keep me dry? Maybe it’s unscented, like real gold, but I doubt it. Sure I could open each one and smell it. But the number of choices is overwhelming, and I don’t have time for it anyway!
    2. My shoe size is almost impossible to find, and I hate shopping for shoes. I’ve been reluctant to buy shoes online because I’ve always wanted to try shoes on before buying. But I bought my latest pair online, and it was so much easier. Plus, they were so marked down in price (probably because they were such an unpopular size) that I was ecstatic.
    3. B&Ms waste a lot of shelf space on different brands and flavors of peanut butter. Nowadays you can buy peanut butter that's smooth, crunchy, mixed with jelly, mixed with honey. You have Skippy, Jiff, Teddy Bear, Smuckers and the store brand. Yet how many varieties are there of plain almond butter, not mixed with sugar or palm oil or whatever? Just one – and that was only after the store brought in a machine to make it in-house.
    4. I love our local Barnes and Noble, but I buy more stuff at than in their local B&M. We buy our kitchen calendar from It’s so special. It has a magnetic strip to hang on the refrigerator, and is 12” wide with large rectangles for the days of the month. Finding it in the B&M is hit or miss, so we avoid the frustration entirely and get it online.
  2. Online items get dropped off in my driveway. I don't need to lift a product into a shopping cart, push it to a cashier, bring it out to the parking lot and then load it into the car. It should be noted that the B&Ms that I shop at have helpful people who will load stuff into customers' cars. Some even offer to do this even without being asked.
  3. Repeat delivery and free delivery are so amazingly convenient that I rely on this for cat litter and pet food. These items also fall under item 2, as well.
B&Ms should excel at knowing the needs of the community.  Our local hardware store does this really well.  They know things like the right kind of paint for the climate we're in, the types of wood siding that was popular when the original homes were built, the parts needed to fix light fixtures and values.  I don't bother to look online for hardware-like items unless the guys tell me to.  B&Ms can learn a lot from the hardware store business model.


Sunday, November 17, 2019

Dream: Boat Service

I own a boat, and I’m waiting to have it serviced.  I’m standing on what appears to be a curb, like the corner of a street intersection sidewalk, but instead of a street, there is the deep water that my boat is in.    And the sidewalk is also slightly submerged in about two inches of water.

I’m trying to hold lots of stuff, but I can’t seem to carry all of it.  So some falls into the water and floats in front of me.  I notice that all of it floats, but I don’t question the impossibility of it, even though there are green, vinyl-coated hand weights among the floating items.  Another item is my checkbook.

The service guy is approaching.  I ask him if I should dive in and swim to my boat.  He vehemently says not to, otherwise I might get chopped up by the propeller blades.

The boat is now a party boat, and I’m on board.  There is a speaker or entertainer standing in the front, and many seated in the audience facing him.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Chocolate Fudge -- It's About Time I Made Some

I finally made chocolate fudge.  I used one of the “easy recipes” that you can find online – a combination of Sweetened Condensed Milk, Chocolate Chips and Vanilla all melted together, mixed and chilled.

Unfortunately, I have quite a lot more of it than I should have.  The stuff is dangerous.  I could easily eat all of it.  I’ve been known to eat a 14 ounce can of Sweetened Condensed Milk in a mindless trance of ecstasy.

So I’ll do what I always do with excess decadent treats – bring it to work in the hopes that folks will take it all before lunch time.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Medium and Large and Nothing In Between

Look at the typical size chart1 for men’s underwear, if you will, and tell me if you see anything wrong?

Size Waist (inches)
S 28 - 30
M 32 - 34
L 36 - 38
XL 40 - 42
2XL 44 - 46
3XL 48 - 50


Here’s the problem. What do you do if your waist is 31”, 35”, 37” and so on? Fruit of the Loom tells you to select the next larger size. Hanes doesn’t even offer such advice, unless you ask customer service, and then they also advise the next larger size.

I am size 35, which is between M and L. So I bought the larger size, L. But they were too baggy, even after one washing in hot water. They felt like boxer briefs. M (which I bought next) was a better choice for me since I prefer a lower rise brief. M is a bit too snug, but aren’t they're supposed to be "tighty-whities"? So I'll continue to wash the L briefs in hot water each week hoping they'll shrink into the unavailable in between size.

1 This size chart can be found on the following web pages: